About the collection


The collection of Bavarica, works from and about Bavaria, of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is unique in regard of both volume and comprehensiveness. This is founded in the history of the library and its role as the central Bavarian state library.

The collection of Bavarica is not a self-contained collection that could be delimited clearly from the library's other collections. Accordingly, holdings from and about Bavaria can be found in almost all collection areas of the library.

All books from and about Bavaria

The Bavarica form a field of collection emphasis of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The law on mandatory deposits in particular contributes to this.

Elector Ferdinand Maria decreed already in 1663 that one copy of each work published within the boundaries of Bavaria at the time had to be given to the Court Library. The system of mandatory deposits has only been practised seriously since copyright laws were established in 1840 and 1865, though. The most recent legal regulation of the deposit of mandatory copies took place in 1986. Since then, a compensation is paid to the publishing houses for particularly expensive works.

Thanks to this regulation, printed works produced in Bavaria can be collected almost in their entirety. The holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek are increased by around 50,000 volumes annually through the deposit of mandatory copies.

Pflichtstückegesetz (Law on legal deposits)  (PDF, 19 KB)

The history of the Bavarica collection

Since the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek originally goes back to the Court Library of the house of Wittelsbach, the collection history and the composition of the Bavarica collection are closely connected to the library's history.

Overview of the collection history of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Further information about the history of the manuscript collection

Court Library of the house of Wittelsbach

The old stock of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek predominantly goes back to the court libraries of the house of Wittelsbach in Munich and Mannheim. Duke Albrecht V acquired the library of the Orientalist and humanist Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter (1506 – 1557) as the foundation of the collection in 1558. In 1571, the important collection of the Augsburg patrician Johann Jakob Fugger was added, which also contained the book collection of the Nuremberg humanist Hartmann Schedel (1440 – 1514). Through further targeted purchases by the duke, the Munich Court Library became one of Europe's most important book collections by the end of the 16th century. Initially, the library was accommodated on the first floor of the newly erected Antiquarium building of the Munich Residence.

The Wittelsbach dukes, electors and kings continued supporting the Court Library in the course of the decades by repeated donations and equipped it with a budget for new acquisitions. In 1785, the adorned manuscripts of the electoral treasury were transferred to the holdings of the Court Library.

After the hitherto Palatine city of residence of Mannheim had fallen to Baden in 1803, the holdings of the Mannheim Court Library founded by Elector Karl Theodor in 1756 were transported to Munich in 1803/ 04 and incorporated in the Court Library there.

The monarchs of the 19th century continued the tradition of sponsorship and gave the Court Library extensive donations from private ownership: In 1846 Ludwig I donated the Donatio Ludovici, Ludwig II gave the library valuable Greek manuscripts from the library of Otto of Greece among other things. In 1920 the so-called Donationes Regiae from the last Bavarian King Ludwig II complemented the library's holdings.

Secularisation: Holdings from Bavarian monasteries

The Court Library experienced an enormous growth of its collections in the course of the secularisation of 1802/ 03. The secularised monasteries in Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria and Swabia had belonged to the most important ecclesiastical centers of Europe for centuries. Monasteries such as Tegernsee, Polling or Benediktbeuern had outstanding libraries with manuscripts and printed works of inestimable value: Works on all subject areas from theology to philology and on to sciences, splendidly illuminated manuscripts, which had partly been crafted in their own schools of writing, Hebrew manuscripts and prints of the early modern era.

From the treasures of around 150 monasteries and colleges, a commission of specialists selected works for the Court Library under the direction of the Court Librarian Johann Christoph von Aretin. Further holdings deemed to be valuable were given to the University Library of Landshut (today the library of the LMU Munich) or formed the foundation of the regional state libraries in Bavaria. The remaining holdings were given to the secondary schools or sold to paper mills.

Finally, around 450,000 volumes came to Munich in this way, among them around 250,000 duplicate titles, which were partly sold and partly also swapped within Bavaria in the course of the 19th century. The secularisation played a decisive role by providing the foundation for the standing of the Staatsbibliothek up the present day.

Sacramentary of Henry II  (3D object in bavarikon)

Growth of holdings through the purchase of collections

The Bavarica collection continued growing throughout the years through the targeted purchase of collections. Already in the 18th century, important purchases had been made in the form of the libraries of the expert in constitutional law Johann Georg von Lori or of the jurist and Chancellor of State Wiguläus Xaverius Aloys Freiherr von Kreittmayr, which strengthened the collection in the field of jurisprudence.

In 1971, the private library of the great Bavarian state reformer Maximilian Count von Montgelas was acquired. It comprised around 13,000 volumes, which were classified as the collection group of Bibl.Mont., with the exception of the manuscripts and maps.

Since the 19th century, also personal papers and autographs of scholars had been collected.

Library of the Bayerische Berg-, Hütten- und Salzwerke (Bavarian Mining-, Smeltery- and Salt Works)

In 1972, the library of the Bayerische Berg-, Hütten- und Salzwerke AG (Bavarian Mining-, Smeltery- and Salt Works PLC) came to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The state-owned public limited company was founded in 1927, taking over the state-owned smelting works, salt works and coal mines that had been organised as state agencies so far. The library of the public limited company contains literature from the fields of salt production, mining, smelting, technology, economic science and chemistry, but also relevant law books. The collection comprises around 4,000 titles in 12,000 volumes, predominantly from the years 1790 to 1940, and is classified as the collection group BHS. In 1988, the specialist library of the mining plant of Peißenberg was added.


Quellen und Darstellungen der Geschichte der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (with bibliography). Available on: https://www.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de/bsb [Last access 06/13/2016].

Bernhard Fabian: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, Österreich und Europa. Available on: http://fabian.sub.uni-goettingen.de/fabian?Bayerische_Staatsbibliothek [Last access 06/13/2016].