Strasbourg's national university library (BNU) was created by the German government in 1871, and has a tradition of paying particular attention to coverage of German culture. Littérature allemandeLittérature allemandeThe extensive collections in German have been built up on the basis of very many donations in the past, with the constant additions of new donations and a substantial level of acquisitions on a regular basis. In 1920, the library had 550 000 works in German, of which 90 000 related to Germanic languages and literature. The number of books and journals connected with the Germanic cultural area in the current collection is estimated at about 700 000.

The many focal points of the old collections on Germanic languages and literature include Baroque literature, the collection of 18th-century almanacs, the substantial presence of Goethe (the BNU also possesses a quantity of his manuscripts and letters), the collection of the poet Frédéric Uhland, the collection of the publisher Cotta, and the exceptional collection of works from Schiller's period.

Ordinary acquisitions

Every year, the BNU adds some 5 000 documents to its collections concerning the Germanic cultural area. It is recognised in France as the benchmark library for the Germanic cultural area and in 1980 was appointed as the centre for acquiring and circulating scientific and technical information (Centre d'Acquisition et de Diffusion de l'Information Scientifique et Technique - CADIST) in the field of Germanic languages, literature and civilisation. In 1994, the BNU became the partner centre of the French national library (BNF) for the same field. The BNU also receives the statutory deposit of the French translations of literature in German.

Faust: Page de titre de l’édition originale du Faust de Goethe traduit par Gérard de Nerval (1828) © BNU – JPRFaust: Page de titre de l’édition originale du Faust de Goethe traduit par Gérard de Nerval (1828) © BNU – JPR

Its current policy on acquisitions focuses on two areas:

  • Germanic languages and literature
  • Germanic civilisation

In the field of Germanic languages and literature, the BNU aims at acquiring everything produced in France - translations of German literature (critical studies, specialist works, dictionaries and reference books as well as novels, poetry, essays and academic correspondence). For foreign languages, priority is given to literature in German, an area in which the BNU aims to excel. Every attempt is made for the collection, for both reading and study, to be representative of literature in German. Much attention is devoted to contemporary literature and new authors. These texts are supplemented by a wide selection of academic critical studies. The BNU offers not only 240 titles of periodicals in this field, but also a number of online databases and online periodicals (Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, etc).

Littérature allemandeLittérature allemande

Apart from Germanic languages and literature, the BNU acquires work on Germanic civilisation in the fields of art, cultural history, and the media, and on historical, political and social matters.

The BNU also houses a number of remarkable collections, such as the library of the Centre for Germanic Studies of the former Robert Schumann University, which it was given in 2002. This collection of 11 000 works and 300 titles of periodicals is of major interest for contemporary history, particularly on National Socialism, the GDR, and Franco-German relations.

The 'news about books in German' service offers readers free access to a selection of new works in the field of human sciences as soon as they are published. More than 1 800 books and audio-books are made available to readers each year in this way.

Centre manager
Aude Therstappen
tel.: +33 (0)3 88 25 28 01

Faust: Page de titre de l’édition originale du Faust de Goethe traduit par Gérard de Nerval (1828) © BNU – JPRFaust: Page de titre de l’édition originale du Faust de Goethe traduit par Gérard de Nerval (1828) © BNU – JPR

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