Library Collections

Quick links

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, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. As part of an overall library collection of more than 12 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, linguistics, history, and cinema, including many first editions and rare books in those fields. For further information on the Dutch and Scandinavian collections, please see the research guides for these areas.

The holdings of primary and secondary works from the age of Goethe, the Weimar Republic, and contemporary German literature are considered to be among the strongest in US research libraries. The Library also holds extensive runs of newspapers and scholarly journals (in print, microform, and digital form) dating back to the 18th century, including a substantial collection of early film periodicals on microfilm (which are listed in an online guide). In addition, thanks to its close ties to educational and research institutions in the former German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), the Library possesses the largest collection of material on the DDR among US research libraries.

The Heyns Reading Room

The Heyns Reading Room, home to new issues of journals and newspapers and featuring the painting Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth (1853) by German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

The Germanic Collections have been built through a combination of extensive acquisition through the purchase of new, commercially-available and antiquarian materials, and also the generous donations of both individuals and research institutions. The collections have additionally benefited from numerous federal and private enrichment grants, many of which have been used to strengthen the Library’s holdings of rarely-held ephemeral materials. Beyond UC Berkeley, our students and faculty have good access to further resources through user privileges at the libraries of Stanford University and the other UC campuses.

Librarian Jeremy Ott is in charge of the Germanic Collections. He is available to assist members of the Department of German and other members of the university community with research questions and book acquisition requests. Please direct your purchase suggestions and questions to him or use the online purchase recommendation form. For general information on library use, please see the “Using the Libraries” guide.

Old books collection


Special Collections

The Library’s collections have been enhanced by the following purchases or gifts, which reside in the Bancroft Library: 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, and is presented in a digital exhibit. Special collections in German Studies at UC Berkeley and other institutions statewide are also indexed at the Online Archive of California.

Selection of items from the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft collection

title page of Zeit-kürtzende Erbaüliche Lust (1692) by Franz Christian Paullini;

page from Glückwünschende Freudensdarstellung (1655) by Duchess Sophie Elisabeth;

engraving of the village of Hornhausen from Threnen-Brunnen Christi und seiner Gläubigen beym Gnaden- Heil- und Wunderbrunnen zu Hornhausen (1646) by Balthasar Balduin

Media Resources Center

The Library’s Media Resources Center holds one of the largest collections of media in a US academic library. Located on the basement floor of Moffitt Library, the collection consists of more than 20,000 videos, more than 1,000 DVDs, and more than 3,000 spoken-word audio tapes. Holdings include over 500 German language films, including feature films, literary and dramatic adaptations, and documentary works. The feature collection includes more than 50 DDR films produced by the DEFA studios during the period 1950-1980. Hundreds of German films are additionally available online through the Library’s subscription to Kanopy.

Digital Collections

The 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, online newspapers and scholarly journals, and many other types of digital content. An overview of these materials can be seen at the Library’s German resources homepage and also within the Library’s database guide.