Thanks to financial support from external funding agencies such as the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Oberfrankenstiftung, the historical collections of the State Library have been continuously expanded and selected parts are being catalogued and made available on the Internet.

Early Modern Alba Amicorum

The collection of alba amicorum from the 16th to 20th centuries in the Bamberg State Library comprises more than 700 items. In addition to more than 550 albums in book format, the library's collection of prints and drawings comprises more than 160 illustrated leaves from albums which were broken up or from boxes with loose leaves. The Bamberg holdings constitute a substantial and diverse resource for scholarship, but are so far largely unknown due to their insufficient state of cataloguing. The collection is recorded in the Repertorium Alborum Amicorum (RAA), an online database provided by the Department Germanistik und Komparatistik of the University of Erlangen–Nuremberg.

Thanks to funding from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, in-depth cataloging and digitization has been underway since October 2023. In order to make the material accessible for a wide range of scholarly disciplines, the holdings will be documented in relevant databases over the course of three years. A selection of albums will be digitised. All books and individual entries will be recorded in the database Kalliope, the national database for modern papers and autographs. In the initial phase of the Bamberg project, 129 albums dating from the 16th to 18th centuries will be catalogued and digitised, with a possible extension to the early 19th century.

For more information about the project, please contact the project staff or the directorate.

Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts and Early Printed Books

The Bamberg State Library has a rich collection of illuminated manuscripts and printed books of the 15th and early 16th centuries. Numerous late mediaeval and early modern manuscripts and incunabula of the collection are decorated with painted decorations predominantly of South German origin. In addition, there are also items that come from other regions of Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Bohemia.

Although the illuminations are often of high artistic quality and expressive variety, most of them are so far unknown to art historians. It is only in recent years that art-historical research has begun to study the artistic development in manuscripts from this period of transition. However, the intermedial relationships among these books and processes of change have only recently been taken into account in research, as illuminated printed books have not yet been analyzed systematically.

The scholarly cataloguing of the significant and diverse Bamberg collection of almost 200 manuscripts (including fragments) as well as approximately 520 early printed books with illuminations and hand decoration began in 2012 with the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The aim of this project is to describe the illuminated manuscripts and printed books and place them in an art-historical context in accordance with the current standards of cataloguing and thus to make them available for further research. In addition, new insights into the organization of book production around 1500 in general, in particular on the relationship between monastic scriptoria and urban book painters, are anticipated.

The results of the project will be made available in a printed catalogue and online via the manuscript database Handschriftenportal and the incunabula catalogue INKA. Descriptions of illuminated manuscripts from the 8th to 14th centuries in our collections, which were also created with funding from the DFG, have already been published.

For more information about the project, please contact the project staff or the directorate.


Joseph Heller’s Prints and Drawings

The Bamberg State Library holds the papers of the Bamberg merchant, art scholar, and collector Joseph Heller (1798–1849). After the death of Heller, who today is considered by experts as a pioneer in art historiography as well as Dürer and Cranach research, the library, then known as the Royal Library, inherited his written works, his valuable library (including around one hundred manuscripts and incunabula), and his art collection. The latter includes a collection of graphic prints and drawings meticulously compiled over decades, which today accounts for more than half of the in-house prints and drawings.

In the project "Joseph Heller's Prints and Drawings at the Bamberg State Library – Visualization and Integration of a Collection Structure", which the German Research Foundation (DFG) has supported since 2017, the focus is on a segment of the collection, which includes works by Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder / the Younger and Hans Holbein the Elder. Characteristic features are numerous copies from the 16th to the 19th century that Heller intermixed with the original. These items, which oftentimes have been cut, postmarked, and mounted onto paper, demonstrate the continuous marketability of these prints in an international context as well as Heller’s unique passion and vision of collecting. Throughout his life, Heller maintained contact with well-known art dealers and collectors, created handwritten additions, and described the works already in his possession as well as those that he had not yet acquired in contemporary art-historical publications.

As part of the project, high resolution digital reproductions of the compilation of selected examples will be created and described according to cooperatively developed indexing and digitization standards and recommendations from the international working group Graphik vernetzt. The creation of a new search server and presentation interface will join the collection to other library holdings, manuscripts, and archives. The aim is to make the history of the Heller Collection, its classification system, and the connections between objects within the various groups available to a wide range of external users and researchers. Numerous digital copies of the so-called Helleriana are already freely accessible via the digital collection Bamberg Treasures, which is constantly being expanded.

In addition to being recorded in the local repository, these records will be integrated into the substantial international database Graphikportal, which was set up by the German Documentation Center for Art History – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg (DDK). This platform of our project partner offers the possibility to make all prints from one plate searchable together. As research aids, library methods such as the link to the Integrated Authority File (for persons, institutions, places, work titles) as well as art-historical referencing possibilities like Iconclass.

For more information about the project, please contact the directorate.

Joseph Heller’s Correspondence

As part of the digitalization project "The Correspondence of Art Scholar and Collector Joseph Heller – Insights into the Cultural Infrastructure of the 19th Century", 4625 letters and drafts in total have been available online since 2022 as part of the Bamberg Treasures. Heller’s exchange of letters, represented by the collection of Letter Drafts by Helleras well as by the Letters Addressed to Hellerfrom artists, publishers, art collectors, and art dealers, offers a look into the art market of the first half of the 19th century and provides information about the history of collections, provinces, and prices.

The project is made possible by the German Digital Library as part of the NEUSTART KULTURprogramme, funded by the Designee of the Federal Government for Culture and Media.

Views of Franconia

The joint project of the State Library Bamberg and the Head Office of the Bavarian Library Network is funded by the Upper Franconia Foundation and aims to present the rich holdings of the Bamberg State Library of historical local and regional views to a broad public on the Internet.

The geographical focus is on Upper Franconia and Bamberg, mainly with an emphasis on views, pictures and photos of the 19th century. All images are enriched with data from the Integrated Authority File (GND) and described art historically.

A first bundle, which was dealt with in the course of the project, includes around 300 photogrammetries, which were taken in Bamberg between 1903 and 1913. The black-and-white-photographs document the state of Bamberg’s architectural monuments and are a crucial historical source of the cityscape in the early 20th century.

Further project results should be made visible in 2024. A gradual expansion of the offer is planned. For more information about the project, please contact the directorate.

E.T.A. Hoffmann Portal

After the Berlin State Library, the Bamberg State Library owns the world's largest collection on the Romantic writer, artist, and composer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776–1822), who lived in the Franconian city from 1808 to 1813.

The autographs, drawings, and music by E. T. A. Hoffmann in the holdings of the Bamberg State Library are already fully digitized and available in Kalliope, the national database for modern paper and autographs. All works are freely accessible within the digital collections of the Bamberg Treasures.

The E.T.A. Hoffmann Portal of the Berlin State Library links the materials from Bamberg with holdings from other institutions. This unique portal comprehensive research in different catalogues, databases, and bibliographies. It offers a versatile and comprehensive view into the life and work of E. T. A. Hoffmann. A literary city tour through Bamberg is also available as well as suggestions for teaching Hoffmann's works in the classroom.

For more information about the project, please contact the directorate or the Berlin office.

Google Mass Digitization

Since September 2019, the Bamberg State Library has been participating in a project for the mass digitization of its copyright-free holdings of historical printed books.

In 2007, the Bavarian State Library in Munich concluded a cooperation agreement with Google, which also includes the Bavarian regional state libraries as institutions subordinated to the Bavarian State Library. Hence, the Bamberg State Library is now also benefiting from this agreement.

The collection of books printed in the 16th to the 19th centuries at the Bamberg State Library comprises about 130 000 titles. Within the framework of the Google project, about 80 % of these titles will be digitized over a period of several years and made accessible free of charge via the Bamberg Catalogue and Google Books. Valuable historical sources and rare regional publications will thus become available to a broad international audience.

Thanks to the partnership with Google and the Bavarian State Library, new ways of accessing the texts and images in the books can also be developed, such as a full-text search even in scripts that are difficult to read today, such as black letter, an image-based similarity search or the used in curated collections and virtual exhibitions, for example on the platform Google Arts & Culture.

When books are selected for digitisation, the existing catalogue descriptions and their state of preservation are carefully checked. Errors in the catalogue are corrected. Fragile, damaged and endangered volumes cannot be digitized. Digitization takes place outside the library, so books from changing stock groups are unavailable to users in the library for several weeks.

The mass digitization project makes the historical holdings of the Bamberg State Library conveniently accessible to all interested parties from their computers at home. This considerably increases the international visibility of the collections.

For further information on the project, please contact the directorate.