The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek


The origins of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) can be traced back to the Wittelsbach court library. It was founded in 1558, when Duke Albrecht V. von Bayern (1550–1579) managed to acquire the library of the humanist Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (1506–1557) who had died the year before. In 1571, the library of Johann Jakob Fugger (1516–1575) was added to the court library, including the book collection once owned by Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514). After this first flowering of the Wittelsbach library, the late seventeenth and the first half of the eighteenth century in particular constituted a time of stagnation. During the age of Enlightenment, new impulses arrived in the wake of the appointment of librarian Felix Andreas von Oefele (1706–1780) in 1746 and of the foundation of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Bavarian Academy of Sciences) in 1759.

Around the year 1800, the court library experienced a time of massive growth: from 1802/03 collections of books and manuscripts arrived from the secularised monasteries in Bavaria and in 1803/04 the Mannheim court library was integrated into the Munich holdings. After 1814, Johann Andreas Schmeller (1785–1852) and Martin Schrettinger (1772–1851) started indexing the collections. In 1832–1843, King Ludwig I (1826–1848) commissioned the construction of the new library building, located on Ludwigstraße in Munich, which is used to this day.

After 1900, the library – called "Bayerische Staatsbibliothek" since 1919 – developed into a modern public library. WWII constituted a major watershed, when the library building was severely damaged during the bombings of 1943–1945 and when more than 500,000 tomes (around one fourth of the entire collection) were destroyed.

Today, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek acts as treasure trove of cultural heritage, as provider of academic multimedia information and as innovator in the field of digital services and it is one of the foremost national and international ports of call for researchers, for students as well as for all those in general who are seeking information.

Collections and Mission

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is today one of the most important European universal libraries and enjoys worldwide renown as international research library. In conjunction with the Staatsbibliothek (State Library) Berlin and the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (German National Library) at Frankfurt and Leipzig, it constitutes the virtual Nationalbibliothek (National Library) of the German Federal Republic. It also comprises the central regional and archival library of the Freistaat Bayern (Free State of Bavaria).

The collections include c.10.9 million volumes (2020) in addition to printed and electronic editions of c.55,000 current journals as well as a further 140,000 manuscripts. Every year, another 130,000 volumes are added after a careful selecting and indexing process in accordance with scholarly criteria.

Some of the most precious manuscripts preserved, rare prints as well as a comprehensively developed special collection that originate in millennia-old cultural heritage define the unique profile of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek’s holdings.

  • Its c.140,000 manuscripts – including 38,000 Occidental exemplars – turn the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek into one of the five largest collections of handwritten material worldwide. It also comprises the largest collection, c.1,000, of decedents’ estates in Germany.
  • The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek owns c.21,000 incunabula (western prints dating to before 31 December 1500) and thus the largest holdings of Occidental pre-1500 cradle books worldwide. As far as early printed books of the sixteenth century are concerned, the library has the largest collection in Germany, comprising 130,000 exemplars.
  • A further 16,800 Oriental and East Asian manuscripts in a range of over 50 languages as well as 570,000 prints in the respective original languages constitute one of the foremost collections of this kind worldwide. Oriental manuscripts first entered the library at the time of its foundation in 1558 from the collections of Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (1506–1557). The most conspicuous addition took place in 1858 through the acquisition of the library of the orientalist Etienne Quatremère (1782–1857). East Asian manuscripts and prints have been increasingly collected since the nineteenth century.
  • The music collection has c.40,600 manuscripts (incl. unique copies) from the sixteenth century onwards at its disposal. Its basis form the collections of the Bavarian court orchestra from 1523, the private collections of the Wittelsbach family and the historical scores used by the Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) for its performances since 1780.
  • Until 2018, the image archive of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek contained around 2.3 million individual images. Since the takeover of the STERN image archive at the beginning of 2019, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has a total of 17.3 million individual images and is thus one of the largest image archives in a public institution in the German-speaking world.

The library has been systematically developing its digital and web based offers and services, for example in the field of electronic editions of academic journals, in the massed digitisation of its collections and in the advancement of innovative digitisation technologies.

The following state libraries are supervised by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Collections owned by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek available on bavarikon

Further online portals of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek available on bavarikon

Exhibitions with the participation of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek available on bavarikon


Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Ludwigstraße 16
80539 München

Postal Address:
80328 Munich

Telephone: +49 (0)89/28638-0
Phone Enquiry Service: +49 (0)89/28638-2322