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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 Library collection of over 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 rarissime volumes 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 U.S. research libraries. The 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 over 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 DDR, the Library possesses the largest collection of material on the German Democratic Republic among U.S. 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 over 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 Library’s catalogues 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 U.S. and international online union catalogues. 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 grates, many of which have been used to strengthen the Library’s holdings of rarely-held ephemeral materials.
The 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 over 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, consisting of around 10,000 volumes on all periods and genres of German literature, and 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 over 600 early printed works, 300 manuscript items and 300 pictorial items related to the society’s scope of activities in the 17th century, and it is an invaluable source for the study of Early Modern German literature. In 2000 the Library absorbed the holdings of the now-defunct Goethe Institute Library in San Francisco.
The Library’s Media Resources Center holds over 400 German-language films (feature and documentary) among its holdings, including a special collection of over 50 DDR films from the DEFA studios in the period 1950-1980.
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.
The Librarian for the Germanic Collections is James H. Spohrer. He welcomes questions from users of the Germanic Collections as well as the opportunity to assist students and faculty with their research needs.