About the collection

Tips for searching maps and atlases

We are always looking for ways to facilitate the search among and use of our collections.
A handout contains information on the following topics:
  • Map search
  • Bibliographic data
  • Copyright & citation of maps
  • Use & services
Maps and atlases: Tips for searching 
(PDF, 2.97 MB)


The map collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek currently includes 778 hand-drawn maps, 415,000 printed individual maps, 13,000 atlases and 30 globes. Two hundred works with early views of cities (topographies) and a reference library with 3,800 volumes round off the collection.

Eighty thousand maps alone date back to the time before 1850. Not least due to these outstanding holdings of old maps, the collection ranks among the most important map collections in Germany.

Further maps and atlases form part of the general holdings. Individual maps incorporated in geographical, historical and other works are only partly catalogued individually. Some collections of personal papers include hand-drawn or printed maps as well.

The individual maps, atlases and topographies are catalogued in BSB DISCOVER!.



Collection at the time of foundation

Along with the library of Johann Jakob Fugger, Duke Albrecht V also acquired 40 maps. These are listed in the first map catalogue of the year 1577. Only one of them has been preserved up to today, the "Carta Marina" by Olaus Magnus of the year 1539. Only one further specimen of this map is known worldwide, which is kept by the university library of Uppsala.
Carta marina

17th and 18st century

During the subsequent centuries, the Bavarian rulers further expanded the collection of maps and atlases. The focus was on maps of Bavaria and the neighbouring countries in the south, west, north and east of Europe.

Secularisation and Mannheim Court Library

The abolition of the Bavarian monasteries and their libraries in 1802/ 03 led to a substantial growth also of the map collection.

With the transfer of the Mannheim Court Library of Elector Karl Theodor, which comprised a total of around 100,000 volumes, valuable adorned atlases came to the Court and State Library of Munich in 1803/ 04. They are predominantly from south-German and Dutch publishing houses.

In the course of the re-arrangement of the collections by Martin Schrettinger (1772 – 1851), an individual collection group was established also for the maps at the start of the 19th century, the group bearing the classification mark "Mapp." (Mappae). The collection group is broken down into 23 regional and three subject-related subdivisions and is continued up to the present.

19th century to the Second World War

During the 19th century, the map collection grew relatively slowly, since the General Conservatory of Maps (Allgemeines Plankonservatorium) in Munich archived the maps of Bavaria and the neighbouring countries.

In 1915, the map collection became an organisation unit of its own.

During the Second World War, also the map collection suffered substantial losses. Many atlases, the reference library and parts of the more recent individual maps fell victim to the air raids.

Post-war period up to the present

After the war, the US army gave the library a collection of German Wehrmacht maps, predominantly of the east and the south-east.

By taking over maps from the holdings of the former Bavarian army library, rare and valuable maps were incorporated in the collection.

Today, the focus is on expanding the important collection of early maps by re-acquiring maps lost in the war and on further rounding off this outstanding collection.

In accordance with the collection mandate of a universal library, the library has continuously acquired modern cartographic works since the end of the Second World War. Here, the focus is on topographic maps with a regionally subdivided profile.


Bauer, Theo; Wolff, Hans: Kartensammlungen am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 25 (1997), p. 275-282.

Ofczarek, Beate: Die Kartensammlung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2010) 1, p. 31-35.

Wolff, Hans: Die Kartenabteilung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek – eine Bilanz der letzten fünfzehn Jahre. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 26 (1998), p. 135-155.

Zögner, Lothar (ed.): Verzeichnis der Kartensammlungen in Deutschland. 2. edition. Wiesbaden, 1998. p. 371-374.