The Bamberg State Library was founded in 1803 as a result of the mass secularization 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 1965. Our mission is determined by our growing collections and intensive efforts to make our holdings accessible.


The Bamberg State Library was founded in 1803 as a result of the mass secularization 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, Heinrich Joachim Jaeck (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.

In 1941, to protect them from the effects of war, 15 boxes containing 619 top-quality parchment manuscripts, 16 early prints, and two large folders of graphic sheets and broadsides were taken to Neuschwanstein Castle via a brief stopover at the Bavarian State Library in Munich and later on to Hohenschwangau Castle. From there, the boxes were returned to Bamberg in June 1946 – complete and in undamaged condition. Further evacuations took place to Scheßlitz and to safe rooms within the library itself. Both the holdings and the building were spared losses and damage during the Second World War.

A stagnation in acquisitions in between the two World Wars caused by a lack of staff and funds ended after 1948 when the state of Bavaria decided to increase support for the libraries. 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.

Chronological Overview

1803Establishment as the Royal Library and situated in the college house of the Jesuits in the middle of the Island District in Bamberg.
1807–1808Along with the 11,400 volumes from the holdings of the Bipontina, a substantial part of the collection of Duke Karl II. August of Palatinate-Zweibrücken (1746–1795) from the Wittelsbach family is inherited.
1849After the death of Bamberg art historian Joseph Heller (1798–1849), his comprehensive and valuable collection of prints and drawings comes into the possession of the State Library, as well as an accompanying library of around 6,000 volumes.
1887The first volume of Friedrich Leitschuh’s manuscript catalogue was published.
1903Emil Marschalk von Ostheim (1841–1903) bequeaths in his testament his collection of prints and drawings and his library containing predominantly genealogical and heraldic literature, as well as literature on local and revolutionary history, to the State Library.
1965Due to a blatant lack of space, the library moves to the New Residence on the Domberg.
1966With its 4the volume (acquisitions since 1912), the manuscript catalogue that was first published in 1887 comes to its conclusion.
1975A cooperation agreement with the University of Bamberg enforces a synchronized acquisition policy, a shared loans network, and library training.
1978The former wine cellar is transformed into a stack-room for books, which, with around 7,000 shelf metres of space, provides storage for around 200,000 books.
1987The Bamberg State Library becomes the depository library for all publications in Upper Franconia.
1993Renovation of the Scagliolasaal and Sterngewölbe of the New Residence into a modern exhibition room.
1997The era of the internet begins with own websites.
1999The Bamberg State Library begins employing a system of electronic borrowing.
2000On the occasion of their reproduction in facsimile, all of the individual pages of the Bamberg Apokalypse can be displayed in a single exhibition. 20,000 visitors take up this unique opportunity.
2003From the holdings of the Bamberg State Library, the Bamberg Apokalypse as well as commentaries on the Canticles, the Book of Proverbs, and the Book of Daniel, two manuscripts of the Reichenau, are added to the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.
2007With the installation of a Graz Buchtisch, the digitalization of the manuscripts of emperor Henry II begins and is completed in 2012: around 50,000 pages of parchment can now be viewed online.
2008The Bamberg State Library installs an electronic acquisition system.
2011With the support of the Head Office of the Bavarian Library Network, the State Library develops the online portal "Bamberg Treasures" and presents selected thematically organized manuscripts, old prints, and drawings from its holdings. Since the relaunch in 2021, over a quarter of a million visits to the digital catalogue, enriched with vast supplementary information, are recorded.
2013The Lorsch Pharmacopeia is incorporated into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme.
2014Since the capacity of the book stacks in the New Residence on Domplatz is completely full, part of the holdings is stored in a newly rented external stack-room.
2015The Bamberg State Library inherits three high quality medieval manuscripts from Weißenstein Castle in Pommersfelden: a Gospel book from Corvey (Msc.Add.3000), a tracing of the Bamberg Rationale (Msc.Add.3001), and a gradual that likely stems from the Bamberg Cathedral (Msc.Add.3002).
2017With the goal of making the collection of the Bamberg art scholar and collector Joseph Heller (1798–1849) as accessible as possible for use and research, an externally funded project starts, in the scope of which the library digitalizes, catalogues, and presents online selected prints and drawings as well as his entire correspondence.
2019The Bamberg State Library takes part in a Google project on the mass-digitalization of their historical prints that are not protected by copyright law. The conclusion of the project in Bamberg is planned for 2024.
2020–2022In order to mitigate the somewhat severely adverse effects on the on-site operation of the library in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the virtual series of lectures "Bamberg Book Stories" starts. Additionally, the exhibition catalogue "Joseph Heller and the Art of Collecting" is also presented as an interactive e-book.

Library Directors

1803–1813Konrad Frey (1764–1813), Heinrich Joachim Jaeck (1777–1847) and Alexander Schmötzer (1748–1815)
1813–1815Heinrich Joachim Jaeck (1777–1847) and Alexander Schmötzer (1748–1815)
1815–1847Heinrich Joachim Jaeck (1777–1847)
1848–1874Michael Stenglein (1810–1879)
1874–1898Friedrich Leitschuh (1837–1898)
1898–1924Hans Fischer (1859–1941)
1924–1945Max Müller (1880–1953)
1946–1952Curt Höfner (1899–1980)
1953–1958Alois Fauser (1906–1987)
1958–1967Fridolin Dreßler (1921–2013)
1967–1984Wilhelm Schleicher (1925–1985)
1984–2005Bernhard Schemmel (1940–)
2006–2016Werner Taegert (1950–)
2016–Bettina Wagner (1964–)


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

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

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

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).