The Universitätsbibliothek München (University Library of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich) is the central media and information supplier of the Ludwig Maximilian University. Its holdings of almost five million volumes is one of the largest of the university library systems in Germany. The Universitätsbibliothek München comprises also over 3,300 manuscripts, 3,600 incunabula, over 180 decedents' estates, numerous special collections and c.475,000 prints, published between 1501 and 1900, and thus a highly notable historical book inventory, the second largest in the free state of Bavaria.
Its origins as a late mediaeval library foundation were in Ingolstadt, where the library was founded in 1473 and remained located for three centuries until Elector Maximilian IV Joseph moved the university to Landshut in 1800. The masses of books available during the secularisation of 1802/1803 made the Landshut university library become – after Göttingen and Breslau – the third largest in Germany. In 1826, the library moved from Landshut to the Bavarian capital and, in 1840, it was accommodated on the second floor of the famous university building, designed by Friedrich von Gärtner. The dynamic development of the university library, accompanied by a continuous increase of its inventory and by rising user quantities – the Universitätsbibliothek München with its 831,000 volumes was regarded by 1925 as one of the largest in Germany – after WWI led to a serious lack of space. From 1943 the allied bombings of Munich did much harm to the university library; 90% of its building substance was destroyed by spring 1945 and at least one third of its pre-war inventory had been lost.
During the post-war period, the library continued to work in several temporary locations that were distributed across the entire university's main building as well as unpractical. In 1967, a new building was erected, while the spatial expansion of the university library was achieved during the past 25 years by the decentralised foundation of large special libraries. Since the millennium, the central library managed to develop an innovative profile based on the early orientation on the potential of the electronic supply of literature and information. For the start of the winter term 1989/90, the Universitätsbibliothek München installed as the first in Bavaria a CIP-pool with c.60 networked pcs as work places for the students of six faculties. As the very first university library on the Continent, it offered its users since May 2004 selected books in electronic format and was the first German library able to present online its most valuable holdings, i.e. the cimelia, completely digitised in 2010.