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Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München

BSB-AK 1501 - 1840

Name and coverage of file

The name of the file is BSB-AK 1501 - 1840 (Alphabetical catalogue of the BSB), indicating its coverage of books printed between 1501 and 1840 held in the BSB. At the last count ( on 1 December 1994) it contained 526.920 records.

The library contains one of the most important collections of books printed in that period. It was founded in 1558 as the court library, and was much expanded by the purchase of the the humanist and oriental collection of Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter and the library of Johann Jakob Fugger of Augsburg, counting over 10.000 volumes which included already the library of Hartmann Schedel. Legal deposit of each book printed in Bavaria became law in 1663. From 1756 the library functioned also as the library of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. In the period of secularisation the library grew even more rapidly, beginning with about 23,000 volumes integrated from the Munich Jesuitenkolleg after the suspension of the Jesuit Order in 1773. Other collections, such as the libraries of Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi and of Pietro Vettori were purchased abroad. The secularisation of monasteries released hundreds of thousands of printed books and manuscripts from about 150 different former religious houses in Bavaria which were absorbed by the Court Library and other Bavarian libraries. After incorporating the Kurpfälzische Hofbibliothek in Mannheim- founded by Karl Theodor - with some 100,000 volumes, the library (from 1826 to 1918 called Hof-und Staatsbibliothek) was in the early nineteenth century the second largest library in Europe, after Paris.

The collection of printed books covers all languages and subjects. Apart from Bavarian publications, and German printing in general, there is some emphasis on the romance languages and the catholic tradition. After German the best represented language is Latin.

The file also reflects modern collection development. It includes records of reprints of books of the same period. In order to provide a counterpart to the romance languages, some 20,000 records have been included for the microfilm edition of English books 1475- 1640 and 1641-1700 which are identified by the shelfmarks 'Film R 360' and 'Film R 361'.

To the present day the collection of pre-1840 material is growing by a careful acquisition policy; the library is the national centre for the acquisition of books of the 15th and 16th century.

Today the BSB has 19,000 copies of incunabula editions (for which see the ISTC file in HPB), 126.000 titles of the 16th century, 145,000 of the 17th century and 200,000 of the 18th century. The rich holdings of early printed music (50,000) and maps (68,000) are not part of the HPB.

For detailed information about the history and holdings of the BSB, please refer to

B. Fabian, General Editor, Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, Band 10, Eberhard Dünninger and others, eds., Hildesheim, 1996, pp.27-112. (ISBN 3-487- 09584-x).

Early descriptions with notes and comment in: Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in historischen Beschreibungen. - 2. durchgesehene Aufl. München, 1989. (ISBN 3-598- 11395-1).

Mode of cataloguing

Parallel to collection development the library has also an interesting history of catalogue traditions. Since 1814 printed works have been systematically grouped and shelved: the shelfmarks of the library translate a systematic approach to knowledge, differentiating 189 disciplines. Most of the records which are now in the HPB database and in the library’s on-line catalogue have been created by retrospective catalogue conversion based on the handwritten book catalogue of the library produced c.1833 and its supplement. The conversion was done inhouse from 1980 and completed in 1995. It was one of the first conversion-projects of its kind. Recent acquisitions are catalogued book-in-hand and the file is constantly edited in order to make it conform to modern standards of cataloguing. Titles in non-Latin script are transliterated according to national or international transliteration schemes. The complexity of the file consisting of converted records from the old catalogue and modern records gives an impressive picture of the extent of the holdings of the library and serves mainly as a finding list.

For details of cataloguing and presentation of the records in the HPB file please refer to:

“Der Katalog 1501 bis 1840 der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek : Konversion, Erschließung, Überführung nach UNIMARC, Präsentation auf CD-ROM,” Claudia Fabian. - In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 24 (1996), pp.341-369

Present/Absent fields

The very short records converted from the old catalogue usually lack an author statement, an indication of the printer or publisher and pagination. The title proper may be abbreviated. The edition statement is reduced to the minimum. Throughout the file there is no subject indexing (although the shelfmarks contain subject information) and no language codes. Provenance is not indicated. Information whether the recorded item is a microform is not provided in the record itself but is to be deducted from the shelfmark starting with “Film” or “Fiche”.

The name authority is done consistently on all records. Please note that the first name of authors is always abbreviated to the first letter of the second first name - all others are omitted (e.g.: Goethe, Johann W. for Goethe, Johann Wolfgang). Alternative forms of names are only indicated in one (or some) of the records, a second search must be done under the authorised form of the name to retrieve consistently all records where the name appears (e.g. Searching for ‘‘Homer’’ hits only a few records, in order to find all records of the BSB the name ‘‘Homerus’’ has to be searched for). Names are not provided with dates for identifying the individual.

Treatment of multivolume works

Multivolume works are currently catalogued on two levels: one describing the work as a whole but without indicating volumes, editions and publication dates and the second level describing each volume for itself, indicating the edition statement, the publication year, the pagination. In the HPB file automatic linking has not been achieved, so that you have to enter a second search either for the ‘‘parent’’ or for the ‘‘children’’ record. The indications on the full display help to achieve this second search.

Recommendations for searching

The BSB file is the largest file in HPB and you will regularly hit these records. As they are for holdings of the whole collection not only German (and Latin) books are recorded but also the rich holdings of foreign literature. The file is helpful for establishing that there is a copy held by the library and to survey a significant number of titles of early printing - it is meant to serve as a first step to bibliographic research. Any further bibliographic questions can be answered by own inspection of the book or by addressing the library for special information. Please note that any search with language or publication code will not be successful, and that a search with publisher will only lead to an unreliable result because the number of hits will be incomplete. The best way of searching the file is therefore by author and/or title. A standardised spelling of the first word of the title is provided if appropriate. The search can successfully be restricted by place of publication and publication year.

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 resources/hpb/content/bayerische_staatsbibliothek_munich.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/22 13:37 by baldwin



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