History

The Bamberg State Library was founded in 1803 as a result of the mass secularisation of religious institutions in Germany and was initially housed in the Jesuit college in the city centre of Bamberg until it moved to the New Residence on the Domberg in 1966. Our mission is determined by our growing collections and intensive efforts to make our holdings accessible.

Origin

The Bamberg State Library was founded in 1803 as a result of the mass secularisation of religious institutions in Germany and was initially housed in the Jesuit college in the city centre of Bamberg until it moved to the New Residence on the Domberg in 1966. Our mission is determined by our growing collections and intensive efforts to make our holdings accessible.

The name of this library has changed with the political situation in Bavaria: first, it was called Kurfürstliche Bibliothek (Electoral Library), then Königliche Bibliothek (Royal Library) from 1806 to 1918, Staatliche Bibliothek (State Library) from 1918 to 1966, then finally its current name, Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, from 1966 to the present.

Six notable manuscripts from secularised ecclesiastical institutions have not remained in Bamberg, but instead became part of the collection of the Bavarian State Library.

The first director of the library, Joachim Heinrich Jäck (1777–1847), a former monk from the Cistercian Monastery at Langheim, organized approximately 60 000 volumes from the Bamberg area into a usable collection. He created and developed a systematic organization system and arrangement for the manuscripts and prints that are still partially valid even today. He also published catalogues and numerous scholarly articles on the library’s collections.

Growth and Expansion

Since the library initially had no acquisition budget, the revenue from sales of facsimiles and duplicates was needed to expand the holdings. In the 19th century, the collection of the State Library was enriched by a considerable number of donations. Thus, the holdings expanded to include a substantial part of the court library of the Duke of Wittelsbach, Charles II Augustus of Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1746–1795), the eldest brother of the first Bavarian King, Max I Joseph. The Latin version of the library’s name is Bipontina.

Collections of numerous citizens closely associated with Bamberg, such as the collector and art historian Joseph Heller (1798–1849), the medical professor Johann Lukas Schönlein (1793–1864), the captain of the Royal Navy Thomas Dempster Gordon (1811–1894), and the baron Emil Marschalk von Ostheim (1841–1903), also became integrated into the library.

The years 1874 to 1924 marked a period of consolidation. The head of the library, Friedrich Leitschuh, who was director from 1874–1898, began publishing a manuscript catalogue, which was completed by his collaborator and successor, Hans Fischer, director of the library from 1898–1924, in a form that is still considered exemplary today. In 1966 Fridolin Dressler edited a supplement comprising new acquisitions since 1912.

A stagnation in acquisitions in between the two World Wars caused by a lack of staff and funds ended in 1948 when the state of Bavaria decided to take over all the libraries within the state. Under the library directors Curt Höfner (director 1946–1952) and Alois Fauser (director 1953–1958), the library was revived, as the number of established posts for librarians and assistants increased.

In the New Residence

In 1965, the library moved to the New Residence on the Domberg due to lack of space in the Jesuit College. Under Fridolin Dressler (director 1958–1967), a fundamental reorganization and modernization of the State Library took place. Dressler also chose E. T. A. Hoffmann as an area of special importance, thus laying the foundation for one of the largest collections of Hoffmanniana in the world, which was continually expanded under his successors.

Since 1986, the collection of illuminated mediaeval manuscripts has been catalogued in a project initiated by Bernhard Schemmel (director 1984–2005) and funded by the DFG, in order to make the holdings accessible for research through catalogues. As one of the first state-owned libraries in Bavaria, the Bamberg State Library has begun the systematic digitization and online presentation of its historical holdings.

In addition to its own holdings, the State Library also houses and manages the book collections of a number of Bamberg associations as deposits, such as those of the Bamberg Historical Society, the Bamberg Society of Naturalists, the E.T.A. Hoffmann Society  and the Bamberg group of the Frankenbund.

Literature

Jäck, Joachim Heinrich: Vollständige Beschreibung der öffentlichen Bibliothek zu Bamberg. Bamberg, 1831–1835 (catalogue).

Leitschuh, Friedrich: Führer durch die Königliche Bibliothek zu Bamberg. 2. ed. Bamberg, 1889 (catalogue).

Fauser, Alois; Gerstner, Hermann: Aere perennius. Jubiläums-Ausstellung der Staatlichen Bibliothek Bamberg zur Feier ihres 150jährigen Bestehens. Bamberg, 1953 (catalogue).

Schemmel, Bernhard: Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. Handschriften, Buchdruck um 1500 in Bamberg, E. T. A. Hoffmann. Bamberg, 1990 (digitized version).

Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Vol. 11 (1997), pp. 127–140 (online).

Schemmel, Bernhard: Bamberg – ein Modell? Die Staatsbibliothek im Gefüge des Bamberger Bibliothekssystems. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 27 (1999), pp. 163–179 (catalogue).

Die Staatsbibliothek Bamberg 2005–2015. Bamberg, 2016 (digitized version).

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