Use and service

Reading in the library

Booking a working place

Opening hours
Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

Monday – Friday09:00 – 17:00

Contact Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

Phone+49 89 28638-2263
Online inquiry serviceOnline form

Direct links: Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

Shelving system of the reference librarySystem
Finding the reading room collection in the catalogueBSB DISCOVER!

Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

Reference library

The works from the reference library can be used immediately and without prior order. The reference library is a non-lending library offering over 50,000 volumes, among them 150 current periodicals, 5,100 manuscript catalogues, 550 incunabula catalogues, 2,400 facsimiles and 2,000 antiquarian books catalogues, moreover more than 2,200 microfilms and numerous microfiches on manuscripts which are not kept at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Further, also numerous photo albums are available, containing image material from the manuscript collection of the department.

Printed registers of older collections of personal papers can be requested at the counter in the anteroom of the reading room.

Overview of microfilms
Photo albums  (PDF, 97 KB)

Please do not return media units taken from the shelves in the gallery yourself, but put them in a specially marked shelf compartment for this purpose.

New acquisitions added to the collection are presented regularly on an extra table.

Shelving system of the reference library

The volumes of the reference library are shelved according to subject areas. Wherever necessary, the subject areas are subdivided into countries, locations and/or persons, respectively in alphabetical order, thus e.g. the manuscript catalogues (E) are subdivided geographically according to locations in alphabetical order (Ea – Ez). The literature on printed books has not yet been classified systematically. All the works belonging to this area are kept behind the lending desk of the reading room. They bear the classification mark "Zw", are numbered consecutively and can be ordered using a yellow order slip.

Finding the reading room collection in the catalogue

The complete reference collection has been entered in BSB DISCOVER!. The volumes of the reference library can be recognized on the basis of the introductory part "Hbh" of the classification mark.
These works may be used exclusively in the reading room and cannot be obtained for home loan.

Reading room equipment

  • 30 workplaces, partly designated as special work places (i.a. for personal papers, large-format volumes)
  • 4 Internet PCs
  • WLAN
  • Incident-light book scanner
  • Black-and-white printer
  • PC with DVD-ROM drive (for use of the reference library holdings of electronic media and databases)
    Databases offered in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books  (PDF, 233 KB)
  • 3 microfiche/microfilm readers
  • Earphones (available at the reading room counter)

Information counter in the reading room

If you have any questions, our library staff will be pleased to be of assistance during the opening hours.

Direct links: Loaning books for consultation in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

Search and orderBSB DISCOVER!
Information overviewLoaning media
Do you need a reader pass?Registration

Loaning books for consultation in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

The mission of safeguarding the outstanding cultural goods and preserving them for future generations determines the use of the materials in the present. For this reason, the collections administrated by the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books – manuscripts, valuable printed works, personal papers and autographs – on principle can be used exclusively in the department's reading room (non-lending collection). A special library card is required for the department's reading room.

Most of the bound manuscripts and printed works can be ordered in BSB DISCOVER! by users admitted by the department. In certain cases (especially in the case of personal papers), however, loan orders still need to be placed conventionally, using an order slip. For this reason, please ensure that the classification marks are written correctly both when searching and ordering materials. It usually takes one day until the ordered items are available for consultation. In specific cases, however, it may take up to three days. Special objects, such as manuscripts from the vault, the most valuable printed works and items in a critical state of conservation, for example, can usually be consulted exclusively in the form of photographic representations; special permission from the superintendent is required for consulting them in the original. In the case of personal papers, restriction periods and the state of conservation of the materials can lead to a limitation of use. In the complete area of the reading room, only pencils may be used for writing. The reading room has a video surveillance system.

Brief instructions for use  (PDF, 220 KB)
Detailed instructions for use  (PDF, 225 KB, in German)
Guidelines for searching and ordering manuscripts and prints in BSB DISCOVER!  (PDF, 890 KB)
Guidelines for writing the shelf-marks correctly  (PDF, 41 KB)
Application to read classified material  (PDF, 143 KB)

Books from the general stacks can be ordered in BSB DISCOVER! for consultation in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books. You can usually produce copies of these volumes yourself using the incident-light scanners. After expiry of the loan term they are returned to the stacks. Please keep in mind to request an extension of the loan term in time, if required. When items are no longer needed, kindly take them to the return counter. Volumes ordered for consultation in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books cannot be taken home.

A major part of research literature can be consulted in the reading room as well, and orders for photographs can be placed.

Forschungsdokumentation Handschriften  (Research Documentation Manuscripts)

Ordering digital copies (ERaTo)

The database is updated on a regular basis, making use of the most relevant journals.
Relevant journals  (PDF, 319 KB)
If you are aware of publications that are not mentioned in the database you are welcome to provide us with the respective piece(s) of information by using the form attached.
Form  (PDF, 65 KB)

Library card

When you wish to read books or other media from the stacks of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books or another one of the reading rooms, you need a library card. Please note that an extra library card is required for using the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books, which is issued directly by the specialised department in charge.

Direct links: Reading rooms

Further informationOverview of reading rooms
Searching reading room collections in the catalogueBSB DISCOVER!

Other reading rooms

Publications on codicology, about Bavarian and German history and on literature in various European, Oriental and Asian languages, etc. can also be present in the reference libraries of the other reading rooms.

  • Literature on manuscripts, incunabula and historical printed works from eastern Europe and the Orient can be found in the East European, Oriental and Asian Reading Room.
    (call number component "Hbor" or "Hbost" in BSB DISCOVER!)
  • Literature on the topical focus of music or (hand-drawn) maps, atlases and images (illuminated manuscripts) can likewise be found in the reference collection of the Reading Room for Music/Maps/Images.
    (call number component "Hbks" or "Hbm" in BSB DISCOVER!)
  • The latest issues of scholarly journals on (art) history, German philology, etc. can be found in the Periodicals Reading Room.
    (call number component "Hbzs" in BSB DISCOVER!)
  • Some reference works on history and on classical studies can also be found in the Aventinus Reading Room in addition to the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books.
    (call number component "Hbfo" in BSB DISCOVER!)
  • Further reference works and language dictionaries are also accommodated in the General Reading Room.
    (call number component "Hbl" in BSB DISCOVER!)

With the library card, literature from the stacks can be ordered for consultation also in these reading rooms in BSB DISCOVER!. Please keep in mind that the reading rooms have different opening hours and equipment.

Staying up to date

Direct links: Staying up to date

New digital copiesRSS feed
CoursesSchedule of courses

New digital copies: RSS feed

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek continually digitizes its exceptional old stocks in the context of users' orders, projects and for reasons of conservation (protective digitization). You can subscribe to an RSS feed to be informed comfortably about such newly produced digital copies.


Forming part of the series of courses of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, courses take place every six months on the focal topics of search tools for manuscripts and personal papers and/or valuable printed works. For the dates and further details please consult the schedule of courses.


Questions and answers – Manuscripts and personal papers

Online inquiry serviceOnline form
In the libraryReading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books   (1st floor)
Phone+49 89 28638-2263
+49 89 28638-2265

Services and opening hours for information about manuscripts and personal papers

Do you have any questions about manuscripts and personal papers and their use? We will be pleased to be of assistance.

Please note, however, that we do not provide literature lists, transcriptions or translations. We recommend making an appointment in advance in case you wish to discuss more extensive scholarly questions.

General information, digitization orders:

Monday – Friday    09:00 – 17:00

Expert information, authorisations:

Monday – Friday    09:30 – 11:30
Monday – Friday    13:30 – 15:30

Online inquiry service

The online form ensures that your question will immediately arrive at the right place. You will usually receive our response to subject-related questions within 5 working days.

Information desk in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books

No matter if you call us on the telephone or come to the library: Our staff at the information counter in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books will be pleased to answer your questions.


In case you have general questions about the use and the services of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, answers can be found at:

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Planning a study visit

Direct links: Planning a study visit

Further informationDetails on the procedure and registration forms
Opening hoursReading rooms

In case you wish to use the collections of manuscripts and printed works of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek within the framework of a brief visit or study visit, please take into account that in most cases books, journals, personal papers and autographs cannot be consulted immediately. They need to be ordered a few days in advance.

If you do not have an electronic library card for the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books yet, you should therefore inform us of your visit in writing one week before your arrival date at the latest.

Please also note that the opening hours of the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books differ from those of the General Reading Room. If you wish to work with the desired media in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books, in order to use the extensive reference collection available there, please let us know in the section "Mitteilungen" (further remarks) of the form.

Donating books, personal papers or autographs or offering them for sale

Direct links: Donating books

E-mail inquiry (about titles/ title lists)
Collection verificationBSB DISCOVER!

In case you wish to donate or make an offer for the sale of antiquarian books (manuscripts, printed works, personal papers or autographs) to the library to complement our collections, please contact us first. In case you wish to offer books, kindly let us ideally have the following data:

  • Author
  • Title
  • If possible, the place and year of publication

You can check in advance in BSB DISCOVER! whether the book already forms part of our collections.

We appreciate your understanding that we only accept such materials which we do not own yet and which match our collection profile. Moreover, we are not authorized to valuate items. For such assessments of value please contact an antiquarian book trader or auctioneer of your choice.

Loaning exhibits for exhibitions

Direct links: Loaning exhibits for exhibitions

Further informationLoans for exhibitions

Within the framework of its cultural mission, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek also makes available exhibits for other exhibitions in Bavaria, Germany and abroad on an international level. Loans can be provided only for exhibitions with a cultural and academic purpose, but on principle not for exhibitions with a duration of more than three months, for displays of large quantities of material or for touring exhibitions.

Enquiries within this context need to be directed at the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. We will be pleased to answer also further questions.