Collections at risk
Among the collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek comprising over ten million volumes, many books are so heavily damaged that they can be made available for academic studies and research only within a very limited scope now. Also manuscripts and rare printed works, unique treasures of our cultural heritage, form part of these imperilled collections.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek currently owns unique collections of around 130,000 manuscripts, over 20,000 incunabula from the early times of book printing up to the year 1500 and the largest collection of prints of the 16th century of all German libraries. Its collections also form part of the virtual National Library of Germany.
Many works are strongly impaired by natural ageing, intensive use or old damage caused by water and mildew or pest infestation. Restoration requires that each item is treated with utmost care and painstakingness, in a fashion that does justice to the item. Consequently, substantial costs are incurred for each individual item. The internationally renowned Institute of Conservation and Restoration (IBR) of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek ensures the permanent conservation of the valuable collections with its decades-long expertise.
For over a hundred years, from the mid-19th century until well into the 1990s, books and periodicals were printed almost exclusively on industrially produced wood-pulp paper. Such paper – produced inexpensively and in large amounts – also contains acids for production reasons, which acids destroy the paper from the inside. It yellows, becomes brittle and disintegrates. The paper decay is a very urgent global problem, with around 60 million volumes being concerned in the academic libraries of Germany.
The funds supplied by the government permit restoring the damaged books only successively, item by item. The books not yet treated can be used only within a limited scope or not at all, in order to prevent further damage. Therefore, the books in question can frequently neither be digitised right away.
Consequently, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek needs help from its friends.
Please support the library by becoming a book patron or making a donation for restoration measures!