The Staatliche Bibliothek Passau (State Library Passau) is a discrete agency and serves to provide city and region with scholarly and sophisticated academic material. It is open to all citizens, for the aim of research and study as well as for professional activities and personal further education. As legal deposit library for Lower Bavaria the focus of its continuously complemented inventory is on the literature from and about the region.
The library originated with the collection of books gathered at the Passau Jesuit College founded in 1612 by Archduke Leopold of Austria (1586–1632). Therefore, it is one of the oldest public book collections in Germany. The focus of acquisitions was at first on the non-scholastic philosophy of space and time, the fine arts, French and German literature, mathematics and physics as well as geographical and travel literature. It obviously also considered theology, philosophy and the works of ancient authors. Around 1740 the existing magnificent library rooms were set up in the East wing of the former Jesuit College. The stucco hall with rococo ornamentation, together with the book cases, is still preserved very well in its original state.
With the dissolution of the Jesuit order in 1773, the library became the property of the Passau Hochstift (prince bishopric) and was called from then on "Fürstbischöfliche Akademische Bibliothek" (prince-episcopal academic library). Only three decades later, the collection went to the Bavarian state in the wake of the secularisation in 1803 and became the collection point for the equally dissolved monastic libraries in the city and the region. Important stock came from the Passau Franciscan as well as from the Capuchin monasteries, from the Augustinian monastery St. Nikola vor Passau (Saint Nicholas near Passau), the Benedictine abbey Formbach (Vornbach)/Inn, the Premonstratensian priory Saint Salvator near Griesbach in Rottal and from the Cistercian monastery Aldersbach near Vilshofen. The library enlarged by these means was termed from 1819 "Königliche Bibliothek Passau" (Passau Royal Library).
During the early nineteenth century took place the important, still essential work on a directory by Johann Baptist Durach and by other people who were very familiar with the library. The collection kept growing so quickly, that it took until 1890/91, when the library moved to new premises in the former Jesuit building, to account for it. Since the end of WWII, the library is labelled as state library and moved in 1972 into its present seat in Michaeligasse 11. The premises of the former Jesuitenalumnat (Jesuit seminary) built in 1630/39, were generously modernised – in particular the former inner courtyard was covered by a roof and thus turned into a well-lit reading room. In 2015, a kunst- and wunderkammer in accordance with Renaissance models could be set up in the period rooms of the former Jesuit College.
The Staatliche Bibliothek Passau is subordinate to The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library).