Göttingen State and University Library

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Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen
(Göttingen State and University Library)
University Library, Platz der Göttinger Sieben, Göttingen
Country Germany
Type Academic library, regional library
Items collected 7.7 million
Website www.sub.uni-goettingen.de
New building of the library (1878 to 1882), now known as the old building

The Göttingen State and University Library (German: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen or SUB Göttingen) is the library for Göttingen University as well as the central library for the German State of Lower Saxony (with its central catalogue), and the library for the Göttingen Academy of Sciences. It also houses the Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum (Center for Retrospective Digitization), the GBV regional library consortium offices, and numerous projects in librarianship and related fields as well as providing such online services as its virtual library and vascoda.

Research library

One of the largest libraries in Germany, the Göttingen SUB houses some 5.7 million volumes as well as 13,000 holographs and other manuscripts and 350 Nachlässe (literary remains). The library works under a dispersed system, with numerous branch libraries located in various academic departments, supplementing the central collection housed in the new library building (construction completed in 1992) on the main campus and the historical library building in downtown. The library is responsible for a number of special-area collections (Sondersammelgebiete) under the German national library system. The historical library building holds manuscripts, rare books, and a significant history-of-science collection and research facility as well as works in the special-area collections, old-stock and other items. In addition, its original core, the Pauliner Church, has been made through adaptive reuse and reconstruction into an exhibition and lecture center. All newly accessioned materials as well as almost all old holdings are electronically cataloged; a small number of old holdings (some of those from the 1940s–1970s) are only searchable electronically using a "virtual catalogue." The library holds a large collection of academic database CD-ROMs, an extensive collection of micro-forms, and collections of aural and audio-visual media.

In cooperation with the University Library "Georgius Agricola" of the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (UBF), the SUB maintains a large online collection of geoscience-related materials, the GEO-Library Experts Online, or GEO-LEO.

In the year 2002, the Göttingen SUB won the German Library of the Year (Bibliothek des Jahres) award.

The library possesses a Gutenberg Bible (one of only four perfect vellum copies known to exist).


Göttingen State Library hall (~1820)
The library in the 18th century

The Library was founded in 1734, three years before the university. The first director was Johann Matthias Gesner, who remained in the position until his death in 1763. It soon was considered one of the leading research libraries in Germany, pioneering cataloging systems (then in large bound volumes). Christian Gottlob Heyne's directorship (1763-1812) laid the basis for the library's status. However, a half century of reduced financing then weakened the library's status. Only in 1866, with official Prussian sponsorship, did the library again begin to flourish. Both Heinrich Heine and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe used and commented on the library in their time.


  • Fast, Jan-Jasper, Tobias Möller: The Future with Tradition: The Göttingen State and University Library. [Transl. Kim Dammers, Isabel D. Holowaty] Göttingen : Georg-August-Univ. 2003.
  • Elmar Mittler: "Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen," in Bernd Hagenau (ed.): Regionalbibliotheken in Deutschland. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2000. pp. 187 – 195.
  • Fabian, Bernhard (ed.): Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Vol. 2, 1. Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim 1998. pp. 140–266.
  • Christiane Kind-Doerne: Die Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen. Ihre Bestände und Einrichtungen in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1986.

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Coordinates: 51°32′23″N 9°56′11″E / 51.53972°N 9.93639°E / 51.53972; 9.93639