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Eastern European Collections

Parts of the Eastern European collections date back to the time of foundation of the library. The Widmannstetter collection already comprised a number of Slavic items: a Serbian-Church Slavonic Psalter of 1546, the old Czech "dictionary" by Sigismundus Gelenius of 1537 and the religious epos "Judith" by Marko Marulić of 1522. Furthermore, some prints from Tuebingen and Wittenberg of works by Croatian and Slovenian reformers also form part of to the valuable old holdings.
The secularisation at the beginning of the 19th century played an important role also in the development of the Eastern European collections. At this time the library acquired not only works in the Latin language about the geography and history of Eastern Europe, but also some valuable Slavic manuscripts. Among these items mention should be made at least of an extensive codex comprising i. a. the so far oldest Slavic manuscript of the world in Latin script, the so-called "Freisinger Denkmäler" of the second half of the 10th century, as well as the "Serbian Psalter", the most voluminous specimen bearing witness to Serbian book illuminations of the middle ages, which is known as the "Munich Psalter" in South-Eastern Europe.
Apart from these treasures, the Slavic collection used to be of a rather modest size for a long time, for example compared to the collections of Italian and French literature. The library started the systematic acquisition of works on Slavic philology and on the history of Eastern Europe only in the middle of the 19th century. These activities were intensified when a Slavic department was established in 1911 in connection with the foundation of the chair for Slavic philology at the University of Munich. The Eastern European collections were strongly affected by the destruction caused by the Second World War, in particular the collection of academic publications and the shelving section of "Turcica", in which a great part of the historical and geographic literature of Eastern Europe was kept.
In the wake of the war the losses of the year 1943, particularly in the area of academic publications, were compensated predominantly by re-acquisition or copies, with the financial aid of the German Research Foundation. The enormous growth of the book production in the countries of Eastern, Eastern Central and South-Eastern Europe since the 1960s led to an equally fast growth of the library holdings, so that it reached an extent of 890,000 volumes in the year 2005. In recent years, also electronic media have been purchased to a growing extent.
Since February 2013, selected items from the East European collection have been presented under the title "kOSTproben" (samples from the east) in two cases in the entrance area of the east reading room. The presentation changes every two months. The title list and descriptions regarding the collection and individual works are additionally accessible via the website of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.