Library Collections


Main Library
Main Library Catalog
Media Resources Center
German Library Resources

The University Library and the Germanic Collections

The Germanic Collections of the University Library are among the most varied and extensive American collections of research materials in the humanities and social sciences from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. As part of an overall University Library collection of more than 9 million volumes, the Germanic Collections currently number approximately 780,000 volumes and are growing at the rate of approximately 12,000 volumes per year. They span all periods of German, Dutch, and Scandinavian publishing, with special strength in Germanic literature and linguistics, including many first editions and rare books in those fields.

In addition to literature, literary theory, and language, the collections also exhibit exceptional strength in history, philosophy, sociology, political science, cinema, and popular culture. The holdings of primary and secondary works from the age of Goethe, the Weimar Republic, and contemporary German literature (including especially the works of non-native authors writing in German) are considered to be among the strongest in US research libraries. The University Library also holds extensive runs of newspapers and scholarly journals (in print, microform, and digital form) dating in some cases back to the 18th century and including dozens of newspapers from more than 40 cities in the German- and Dutch-speaking countries of Europe and in Scandinavia. In addition, thanks to its close ties to educational and research institutions in the former German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR), the library possesses the largest collection of material on the DDR among US research libraries.

The Germanic Collections have been built through a combination of extensive acquisition through purchase of new commercially-available materials, a far-reaching system of exchange agreements with more than 450 scholarly institutions in the countries listed above (including many in the former DDR), and an active program of gift solicitation from scholars and research institutions.

The University Library’s catalogs and Internet resources are available online, around the clock, worldwide at no charge to Berkeley students and faculty, and its holdings are represented in the major US and international online union catalogs. Berkeley’s students and faculty also have user privileges at both Stanford University Library and the libraries of the seven other University of California campuses, including the extensive Germanic collections of UCLA’s Research Library. Berkeley’s library is an active participant in national and international interlibrary lending, and its unique Germanic materials are in heavy demand by scholars at other institutions. The Germanic Collections have been the beneficiaries of numerous federal and private enrichment grants, many of which have been used to strengthen the University Library’s holdings of rarely-held ephemeral materials.

Special Collections

The University Library’s collections have been enhanced by the following purchases or gifts: the Bukofzer Library (ca. 1,000 volumes in German literature); the Burdach Library (ca. 6,700 volumes, strong in Medieval and Renaissance literary materials from Germany); the German 17th century and 18th century Literature Collection (many rare translations of 18th century classics from English to German, important poetical handbooks, runs of poetry journals from German-speaking Europe); the Bremer Library (ca. 3,000 volumes with special strength in 17th century German language and etymology, phonetics, phonology, modern German dialects and Frisian language and literature); the Hesse Archives (purchased in 1959; the most complete collection of materials on Hermann Hesse in the world, containing more than 1,400 items including books, the scores of musical settings for Hesse’s poems, newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets, phonograph recordings, translations into foreign languages, and extensive secondary literature on Hesse); the Loomis Collection (106 volumes and numerous pamphlets relative to Baroque and Renaissance literature in Germany, including many first editions and scarce materials from the earliest period in German printing); one of the most extensive collections in the world of Dutch Underground Press materials from the period of German occupation in the Netherlands during World War II; and the Weinhold Library, the cornerstone of Berkeley’s collections of rare and scarce literary materials, which consists of around 10,000 volumes on all periods and genres of German literature (especially rich in early and first editions).

In 1995, the library acquired the private collection of Martin Bircher, which details the history and activities of the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, Germany’s oldest learned society. It contains more than 600 early printed works, 300 manuscript items, and 300 pictorial items related to the society’s scope of activities in the 17th century; it is an invaluable source for the study of Early Modern German literature. In 2000, the University Library absorbed the holdings of the now-defunct Goethe Institute Library in San Francisco.

Media Resources Center

The library’s Media Resources Center is one of the largest collections of videos in a US academic library. Located on the basement floor of Moffitt Library, the collection includes more than 20,000 videos, more than 1,000 DVDs, and more than 3,000 spoken-word audio tapes. Holdings comprise over 500 German language films, including feature films, literary and dramatic adaptions, and documentary works. The feature collection includes more than 50 DDR films produced by the DEFA studios during the period 1950-1980.

The center maintains an extensive website that includes listings and descriptions of the center's holdings, including their feature films, videos on German history, life, and culture, and German WWII propaganda films. The website also contains extensive bibliographies of books and journal articles related to German film.

For further information regarding Media Resources Center collections or use policies, you may visit the center in person or submit a request by way of the center's online contact form.

Digital Collections

Berkeley’s library has assembled an extensive collection of German Studies materials in digital form, including complete editions of many major literary and historical figures such as Brecht, Kafka, Goethe, Schiller, and Luther, monumental sets such as the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, standard reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and directories, links to international Internet sites providing scholarly information for German Studies, online newspapers and scholarly journals, and many other types of digital content. An overview of these materials can be seen at the Library’s Germanic Collections homepage.

Librarian Jeremy Ott is currently in charge of the Germanic Collections. He is available to assist members of the Department of German with research questions and book orders. Please direct your purchase suggestions and questions to him or use the online purchase recommendation form.

Departmental Library

The departmental library has a substantial collection of all major German writers and philosophers from the Middle Ages to the present. All authors on the PhD reading list are represented with their collected works and selected secondary literature. In addition, the departmental library boasts a sizable collection of books on Germanic linguistics, literary theory, cultural theory, and intellectual history.

We also have sections for Yiddish literature, feminism, and multicultural studies as well as German history and politics, art history and architecture, and cinema. Of course, the library has the latest reference works, dictionaries, and bibliographies. In addition to this, the departmental library owns a video and dvd collection of all major German films.

Periodicals include all journals of American German Studies (German Quarterly, Germanic Review, German Studies Review, Monatshefte, Colloquia Germanica), as well as such periodicals as Merkur, Neue Rundschau, Signs, PMLA, and Representations, among others. We carry such newspapers and magazines as Die Zeit, Spiegel, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Comfortable chairs and free coffee provide an atmosphere conducive to browsing and reading.