Germany's grand libraries
When I come home from college every summer, one of my first stops is the library. I LOVE books so much! There is always a fun story between the covers to transport me to another world. Every bookworm needs a good library, just like every resident of a foreign country needs to discover her host nation’s culture. Check out these six German libraries for a little bit of both.
Jacob and Wilhelm-Grimm Center, Berlin
The Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum is home to approximately 1.5 million volumes, including nearly 6,000 volumes from the private library of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the literary masters who brought us fairy tales like “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Completed in 2009, the Jacob and Willhelm-Grimm Center is part of the central library at Humboldt University in Berlin. Visitors have access to 450 computer work spaces; copying, printing and scanning services; wireless Internet; video and graphic editing; and an electronic publishing service. There’s even a parent-child section called the Berliner-Volksbank nursery, making this library a family-friendly environment!
The German National Library, Frankfurt
For a bit of culture, check out the Deutsche National Bibliothek in Frankfurt. This library collects all German and German-language publications since 1913 as well as foreign publications about Germany and works translated from German. Additionally, the library houses works of German-speaking emigrants published abroad between 1933 and 1945, which means that visitors can likely find interesting perspectives on World War II from those who left Germany. This library also affords access to Germany’s scientific heritage.
Users must be at least 18 years old, and there is an admission charge of €6 per day, €18 per month or €42 for an annual pass. Guided tours are held on the first Wednesday of each month for €8 per person (reduced rate of €6) and the tours are in German.
Stuttgart Central Library, Stuttgart
Located within the grassed area at Mailänder Platz, the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart houses more than 1 million books and media on nine floors in this modern building. It was created to be a new intellectual and cultural center, and it is accordingly a compilation of literature, art and music from the city and region.
This library is also family friendly. There is a central children’s library as well as a music library, study rooms and a café. The library also has a roof terrace with a viewing platform that offers panoramic views of Stuttgart and the surrounding area. As a bonus, at night the building’s entire façade lights up in blue!
Wiblingen Monastery, Ulm
The Kloster Wiblingen has become a major tourist attraction for housing one of the loveliest libraries in the world. It is home to more than 15,000 manuscripts, but people don’t visit solely for the books. The monastery is the final masterpiece of Baroque architecture in Upper Swabia, and the ornamental interior of the library is considered to be one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture. Numerous statues and beautiful ceiling frescoes help to make this library a place for preserving “treasures of wisdom and science.” Admission is €5 per person or €12.50 for families
Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel
The Herzog August Bibliothek has been collecting books for more than 400 years and remains one of the oldest libraries in the world to have survived without collection losses. The shelves hold approximately 11,800 manuscripts, 2,700 of which are music manuscripts, letter collections and play scripts from the medieval period. The library also owns eight German and Dutch block-printed books from the Gutenberg era of the mid 1400s. Guided tours are offered Tuesday to Saturday. Admission fees apply for children ages 12 and older.
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Weimar
As of 1998, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Biblothek has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts more than 1 million articles and preserves German cultural history and research via texts dating from the 9th to 21st centuries. It is one of the first libraries in Germany to be made accessible to the public, and its extensive collection originates partly from the private estates of the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, who once governed the area. As if the impressive collection wasn’t enough, the building itself is famous for its beautiful Rococo Hall. It has 193 workplaces on several floors. It is recommended that you book your ticket far in advance, as the library only allows 250 visitors per day. Tickets can be purchased by email, fax, telephone or post. They can also be purchased at the box office if you arrive early.
Enjoy the comforts of a good read in the incredible surroundings of Germany’s Bibliotheks.
While exploring the rest of Europe, stop in at these amazing libraries:
- Benediktinerstift Biblothek, Admont, Austria
- Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra, Portugal
- Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, Italy
- Bibliothèque Nationale Richelieu, Paris, France
- Bodleian Library & Radcliffe Camera, Oxford, England
- Handelingenkamer, The Hague, Netherlands
- Klementinum National Library, Prague, Czech Republic
- Kongelige Biblotek, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Old Library of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
- Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
- Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
- Strahovsk. klášter, Prague, Czech Republic
- TU Delft Library, Delft, Netherlands