We are the DDB: The Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Logo UB Heidelberg

Logo UB Heidelberg

The Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (University Library of Heidelberg) is the central library in the library system of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. The central library and the decentralised specialist libraries of the university are under the supervision of the Director of the Universitätsbibliothek.

As a scientific universal library the task of the Universitätsbibliothek is to provide members of the University of Heidelberg (Baden-Wuerttemberg) comprehensively with literature and information. At the same time it supplies literature and information to other colleges in Heidelberg (Pädagogische Hochschule – Teacher Training College, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien – College of Jewish Studies) and to the inhabitants of the city and the region. It is part of the German and the international lending network.

Within the framework of the line of funding “Fachinformationsdienste für die Wissenschaft” (Specialised Information Services for Researchers) of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (German Research Foundation), the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg – together with cooperating partners – supervises the Specialised Information Services arthistoricum.net – Specialised Information Service for Art, Photography, Design (esp. Medieval and Modern Art History up to 1945 and the General History of Art), CrossAsia – Specialised Information Service for Asia (esp. South Asia) and Propylaeum – Specialised Information Service for Classical Studies (esp. Egyptology , Classical Archaeology). With more than 520,000 art history books and more than 1,500 current magazine subscriptions, the UB Heidelberg is one of the most important art libraries in Germany.

As the oldest university library in Germany, the history of the UB Heidelberg dates back to 1386, the founding year of the University of Heidelberg. Three libraries had already emerged in the area of the university by the late 14th and early 15th century: the book collection of the Faculty of Arts, that of the Higher Faculties and that of the Stiftskirche (Heiliggeistkirche) – (Collegiate Church - Church of the Holy Spirit). The library owes its decisive extension to the Elector Otto Henry (1556–1559). He had the books situated in the palace brought into the Heiliggeistkirche and stipulated in his will that the holdings be finally unified in this place. In doing so he laid the foundation of the so-called Bibliotheca Palatina (Palatinate Library) which – supplemented by the substantial library of Ulrich Fugger – attained world fame within a few decades.

UB Heidelberg Codex Manesse

"Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Codex Manesse)" (1305 - 1340), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA 4.0 International
"Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Codex Manesse)" (1305 - 1340), (Great Heidelberg Collection of Ballads), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA 4.0 International

Three important manuscript collections, including the Codices Palatini germanici (Cod. Pal. germ.), the oldest greater collection of German manuscripts accumulated over the centuries which has survived completely, are still stored in the vaults of the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg today. The medieval parts of these make them the fourth–largest holding of this kind after the collections in Berlin, Munich and Vienna. In 1826 the Universitätsbibliothek purchased the collection of the Cistercian Monastery Salem and that of the Benedictine Monastery Petershausen on Lake Constance. (Cod. Sal.). Besides approx. 30,000 prints this also contains 434 manuscripts from the 10th to the 18th century, predominantly in Latin. Alongside these two complete collections the largest collection of the Heidelberger Handschriften (Heid. Hs.) (Heidelberg Manuscripts) contains just under 4,200 items, in addition to a few medieval, but predominantly modern manuscripts, mainly autographs from the estates of Heidelberg professors, poets and statesmen of the 19th and 20th centuries.

After medieval manuscripts had still had to be digitised externally in a DFG funded project between 2001 and 2003, the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg established its own digitisation centre in 2003, in order to be able to digitise its valuable old holdings itself in future. Due to numerous projects the UB consequently acquired comprehensive expertise regarding the digitisation of manuscripts, old prints (in the VD18 project, among others) and research literature as the main focus of its collections. There are currently just under 25,000 works online.
The Image and Multimedia database heidICON provided by the Universalbibliothek is the "virtual diapositives library" of the University of Heidelberg. Besides compiling image material for current research and teaching, the conventional diapositive libraries already existing at the institutes are also being digitised and loaded retrospectively. There are currently approx. 425,000 visual and audio documents available here.

Up to the present date the UB Heidelberg has supplied just under 403,000 items to the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library). In addition to the “Codex Manesse” and the Heidelberger Sachsenspiegel (Survey of Saxon Law), the two most well-known manuscripts from its holdings, these also include numerous documents from collections with a regional focus and pages from the Graphische Sammlung (Collection of Prints and Drawings).

To the holdings of the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek

Heidelberger Sachsenspiegel UB Heidelberg

"Heidelberger Sachsenspiegel" (Ostmitteldeutschland, 1300 - 1320), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA 3.0 Deutschland
"Heidelberger Sachsenspiegel" (Eastern Central Germany, 1300 - 1320), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA 3.0 Deutschland

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