University & State Library
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The Library’s History

On 1st January 2001, the Hessian State library of Fulda, which until this point had been independent, was integrated into the University of Applied Sciences, Fulda. Together with the former university library, this library then formed the new University and State Library on two locations. 

With the new development to the state library building at Heinrich von Bibra Platz, the new library fulfils its tasks on two locations:

At the Campus library (formerly Marquardstrasse library), the former university library primarily provides services for the faculties for teaching, studying and research. The library at Heinrich von Bibra Platz focuses on the duties of a state library. 

Both parts of the library have their own history.

The university library was founded in 1971 with the opening of the Fulda part of the University of Gießen. It took over the book collection, dating back to 1963, of the former Fulda Pedagogic Institution, as well as collections belonging to other pedagogic institutions and extensive donations.

Between 1985 and 1999, the library received state funding to build up its book collection. Today the collection holds over 200,000 volumes, with subscriptions to some 680 journals. 

New purchases predominantly concern the faculties of the University of Applied Sciences, Fulda – Social Work; Business Administration; Applied Computer Science; Nutritional, Food and Consumer Sciences; Food Technology; Electrical Engineering and Information Technology; Nursing and Health Sciences; Social and Cultural Studies. These purchases are determined by the courses on offer at the university and their changing focuses and orientations.

The books relating to the universities are predominantly made up of textbooks and books relating to applying subject knowledge. 

From 1989, the library has been housed in a multi-functional building on the university campus. The collection is predominantly available through a systematic open access shelving, of which 30,000 volumes are reference-only.

The book and magazine stands are surrounded by 75 work stations, some of which are single working stations, a group learning room is also available. 

Special departments within the library allow the integration of media points, which hold other reference media and can be used with the support of the relevant media players. Since 1995, due to a special agreement with the European Commission, the specialised European Documentation Centre has been a part of the library. This European Documentation Centre holds official brochures of the European Union. 

The library is computerising itself to improve its ability to carry out its role: CDROM work stations, involvement in the Hessian Library Information System (HEBIS-PICA, currently acquisition, cataloguing, online-catalogue, borrowing from other libraries, co-operative subject indexing).

The history of the former Hessian State Library in Fulda as the smallest scientific general library in Hessen goes back further.

In 1776, the Prince Bishop, Heinrich von Bibra, founded the public library with collections that were largely collected after the 30 years war in the convent library, the court library, parts of Jesuit library, abolished in 1773, and the library of the papal seminar in Fulda. The library first opened its gates on 5th of May 1778, and so in 2003 can be looked back to a 225-year history. The original collections were joined by private donations, the rich collection of the parish church in Hammelburg and, after the secularisation of 1802/03, further church libraries from the surrounding area with manuscripts and presses. 

At the time of the founding of the library, the once famous Fulda monastery library contained hardly any volumes. The contents of the library were largely lost during the 30 years war. An important gain for the library was to receive 1560 volumes from the Weingarten monastery at Lake Constance: In 1802, the heir from Holland, Wilhelm V. from Nassau-Oranien-Dillenburg, was indemnified with the principality of Fulda, as well as the Weingarten and Corvey, for the loss of his Dutch rule.

Parts of the Weingarten library were transported to Fulda, including 146 manuscripts dating back to between 10th and 13th centuries. Together with three Boniface codices and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible (volume 1) printed on pergament, these form the highlight of the library’s special collection. 

A piece of luck for the library saw the acquisition of the Schwanks donation from 1886: 7300 rare and old prints, of which several relate to the history of Fulda, as well as 209 manuscripts. 

The library contains the largest collection of works from the humanist Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523) in Germany, if not worldwide. Together with a considerable number of early editions of Luther’s and other reformists’ work, these prints, manuscripts and images present a fund of important socio-historical sources that should not be neglected.

One of the roles of the state library is to provide literature to the inhabitants of the East Hessen region, and according to tradition to the people of Middle Hessen too, as well as, since the reunification of Germany, to the West Thuringen area.

The library holds the right to legal deposit for the county of Fulda; that means that all publishers, independent publishers and printers must legally supply the university and county library with a free copy of the published work.

On top of this, books and publications about the Fulda region available.

Works about Hessen in general are also collected. All established areas of knowledge are available. 

The library at Heinrich von Bibra Platz currently has around 320,000 volumes in its collection, of which 77,000 volumes predate the 20th century. Of these, there are 431 incunables (prints from before 1500) and almost 10,000 volumes from the 16th and 17th centuries.

On top of this, there are 836 manuscripts, documents, over 7500 music supplies, cards, plates etc. Furthermore, around 1670 scientific and general magazines, mostly in the German language, as well as numerous daily newspapers are available. 

The university and state library in Fulda is the depot library for the Fuldaer Geschichtsverein and the Verein für Naturkunde in Osthessen. This means that both societies have given their collections to the library for safekeeping and utilisation.

This has meant that considerable collections regarding culture and history and science have come together and can be viewed and borrowed from the university and state library in Fulda.

One further task is co-operation on the annually published Hessian Bibliography – a running catalogue containing all titles published in Hessen. For this purpose all books and essays in journals related to Hessen, which are published within the legal deposit area of the university and county library, are collected and registered at the central editorial office in Frankfurt. The Hessian Bibliography can be viewed in the library.   

In the meantime, all bibliographical data from the Hessian Bibliography can be accessed online.