We are the DDB: The SUB Göttingen

The Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (The Göttingen State and University Library) -SUB Göttingen- is one of the largest academic libraries in Germany with around 9 million media units. Its central tasks are the preservation, dissemination and research of information in order to promote studies, teaching and research as well as the acquisition of knowledge in society. The services of the SUB Göttingen in the libraries on site and online are primarily aimed at the members of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen; however, it also addresses broader national and international user groups, especially with its diverse digital offerings.

Historisches Gebäude, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, Lichtenberghof, Foto: Martin Liebetruth (Public Domain Mark 1.0).
Historical building, Lower Saxony State and University Library Göttingen, Lichtenberghof, Photo: Martin Liebetruth (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

One of the focal points of the SUB Göttingen's collection in the field of cultural heritage is the 18th-century prints published in German or in the German-speaking world; as a member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke (Working Group for the Collection of German Prints), the library conducts a systematic, retrospective acquisition for this period. In addition, the SUB Göttingen owns other important historical holdings: extensive manuscript and estate collections as well as numerous incunabula, fragments, and old maps.

The SUB Göttingen participated as an active cooperation partner in the DDB from the very beginning. It operates the Fachstelle Bibliothek (Specialist library office), which supervises the data deliveries to the DDB and supports the further development of the portal in the field of metadata. As part of the funding project "Targeted Digitisation Funding at Cultural Institutions from the German Digital Library Network", an important group was added to the many titles held by the SUB Göttingen that have already entered the DDB in recent years: vernacular medieval manuscripts. The project was funded by the Commissioner of the "Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM)" (Federal Government for Culture and Media) as part of the programme NEUSTART KULTUR (RESTART CULTURE).

Helmasperger's notarial instrument, SUB Göttingen, 2o Cod. Ms. hist. lit. Cim. 123, fol. Ir, photo: Martin Liebetruth (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

In total, the SUB Göttingen holds 426 medieval occidental manuscripts. The founding stock of the library, which was established in 1734 as a scientific library for the nascent Georgia Augusta, included a barely noteworthy collection of medieval codices. Gradually, mainly for teaching purposes and as a basis for text editions, further manuscripts were acquired at auctions and booksellers or bequeathed to the institution as gifts.

Due to this history of origin, the collection shows great heterogeneity with regard to its provenances. This diversity is also reflected in the fields of knowledge represented, which include works of theology, philosophy, natural history, history and jurisprudence.

Composite manuscript with the singsong poetry of Heinrich von Mügeln and the "Katherina divina" of Johannes von Vippach, SUB Göttingen, 4o Cod. Ms. philos. 21 Cim., fol. 143v–144r, photo: Martin Liebetruth (Public Domain Mark 1.0).

The 74 vernacular codices are divided into 66 German-language, four Dutch, two English and two French manuscripts, most of which can be assigned to the fields of theology, jurisprudence and history.

One of the most outstanding works in the collection is the so-called Göttingen Model Book. This textbook, which was probably produced in Mainz around the middle of the 15th century and offers beginners detailed painting instructions for simple book decoration elements, shows various similarities to the famous Mainz Bible print (B 42). The source complex on Gutenberger research is completed by the  Helmasperger Notarial Instrument, which documents the legal dispute between Johannes Gutenberg and his business partner Johannes Fust and is thus considered one of the most important source references for Gutenberg's biography and early book printing.

Another important piece of the Göttingen collection is 4° Cod. Ms. philos. 21 Cim., which transmits almost all of Heinrich von Mügeln's singsong poetry. The profoundly learned poet Heinrich von Mügeln was active in the mid-14th century and formed an interface between Latin and vernacular writing and knowledge culture. Furthermore, the Göttingen Codex is one of only two known textual witnesses of the "Katherina divina", a moral-philosophical treatise in the tradition of the prince's mirror Aegidius Romanus from the pen of the Augustinian Hermit Johannes von Vippach.

After the vernacular medieval manuscripts of the SUB Göttingen were catalogued according to modern scientific standards within the framework of a DFG-funded cataloguing project, the holdings are now also available digitally in the German Digital Library and the Göttingen Digitisation Centre.

All objects of the SUB Göttingen in the German Digital Library

More medieval manuscripts from the SUB Göttingen