Digitization as a central task: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek makes 2.5 millionth digital copy available online

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has just made its 2.5 millionth digital copy available online. Around 70 percent of its copyright-free holdings have thus been made freely accessible on the Internet. Scholars, researchers and the broad public are thus provided with fast and easy access to important treasures of culture and knowledge. For the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek digitization today does not only mean the scanning of its holdings. The development, testing and provision of digital services and products have meanwhile become the core of its activities in the topical field of the "digital library".

The number of 2.5 million digitized manuscripts, books, newspaper issues and special materials – which corresponds to around 960 million image files or a memory space of one petabyte – goes to prove the dimension of the topic of digitization. Besides the professional digitization of the works, the library’s own Munich Digitization Center (MDZ) develops software and research tools, such as the "image-based similarity search" or the newspaper portal "digiPress", with the aid of which users from all over the world can search the digital collections. In addition, the MDZ secures the contents for future generations by long-term archiving.

Klaus Ceynowa, Director General of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: "It does not matter to us how the knowledge is stored, whether on parchment, on paper or in petabytes. Our self-image is that of a 'content library'. The digitization of our holdings, digital services developed on this basis and the provision and securing of free access to digital contents are a central task of our institution and have become part of our everyday lives besides the classical library services."

The 2.5 millionth digital copy published most recently is a true gem: "Kolorierte Darstellungen von 193 Männern des bayrischen Fürstenhauses von Bavarus bis Albrecht 1546, mit historischen Reimsprüchen" ("Coloured representations of 193 male members of the Bavarian dynasty from Bavarus to Albrecht 1546, with historical rhymes"; paper manuscript Cgm 2799). Created probably shortly after 1554, the codex forms part of a number of outstanding items of the Bavarian collection on the genealogy of the Bavarian dynasty. The codex catches the eye in particular by its abundance of images: A total of 71 sheets contain 193 coloured pen drawings of male persons, among them mostly princes, kings, bishops, abbots and members of the clergy.

Klaus Ceynowa: "Free access to works of art of this kind, digitized at high resolution, is of inestimable value to researchers, students and the public – from art historians to German linguists, from librarians to historians, or simply interested laypersons, who can directly enter the digital collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek from their writing desk at home."

Link to the digital copy:

Image material: Coloured representations of 193 male members of the Bavarian dynasty from Bavarus to Albrecht 1546, with historical rhymes (paper manuscript Cgm 2799)
Image credits: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

Press release for download
Press release  (in German)  (PDF, 103 KB)


Dr. Markus Brantl
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Munich Digitization Center
Ludwigstr. 16, 80539 Munich
Phone  +49 89 28638-2394

Peter Schnitzlein
Press and Public Relations
Phone  +49 89 28638-2429


About the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek:
Founded in 1558 by Duke Albrecht V, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is an international research library of world renown. Holding around 33 million media, the library forms part of the most important heritage institutions worldwide. With more than 2.5 million digitized works, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek holds the largest digital data stock of all German libraries. The library offers a broad variety of services in the field of innovative digital use scenarios.