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FAQ | Registration and Borrowing

For your orientation on the library's website and for your first visit to one of our library buildings we have put together some helpful information. Here you can also find answers to frequently asked questions.

General

Are there two State libraries in Berlin? Which site is the right one for me?

We are one library located at different sites:

  • At the site Unter den Linden readers find our historic collections.
  • At the site Potsdamer Straße readers find our modern collections.
  • The Newspaper department and the Children and Young People's Book department are temporarily located at the site Westhafen.

The general collections published after 1850 can be consulted at both sites. The materials of the special collections departments (sheet music, maps, materials from the East Asia department, etc.) can only be consulted in the respective special reading rooms.

Do I have to register as a reader? When do I need a library card?

For using the library - reading rooms included – you need a library card of the Staatsbibliothek. You obtain the library card after registration and payment of the appropriate fee. With your library card you can order books and you have access to all our electronic offers.

Since December 2015 the StabiStart library card gives you the possibility to get to know our library and many of our services for a period of three days – it is free of charge! Find out more about StabiStart.

The library card is valid for all sites of the Staatsbibliothek.

Who can register as a reader?

Individual readers (minimum age: 16 years) can obtain a library card. For so-called corporate users (corporations, universities, institutes, etc.) we offer a joint library card for several authorized signatories.

Where can I find the books?

Only a small part of the holdings of the Staatsbibliothek is shelved in our general and special reading rooms, where they are freely accessible. These books are for reference only (bibliographies, reference works, manuals, etc.). They cannot be taken out and can only be consulted in the library.

The largest part of the holdings is kept in the closed stacks of the two main sites or in the remote store and can be ordered electronically via the catalogue.

Registration | Library card

How and where do I get a library card?

For using the reading rooms and when ordering items from the stacks you need a Bibliotheksausweis (library card). You may select a card either valid for one month (fee: 12 €) or a year (fee: 30 €).
If certain conditions are met, a reduction is possible (Gebührenordnung, § 1).

Since December 2015 the StabiStart library card gives you the possibility to get to know our library and many of our services for a period of three days – it is free of charge! Find out more about StabiStart.

You obtain a library card upon presentation of your identity card or passport:

  • on the site at Unter den Linden, at the general information point or the issue desk      

  • on the site at Potsdamer Straße, at the lending desk located on the ground floor           

  • at the Newspaper department on the Westhafen site (only payment in cash possible).

With your library card you have free access to the facilities and Standorte der Bibliothek (library sites) of the library and you can borrow items from the libary's collections for use in the reading rooms (minimum age: 16 years). Minors need a Einverständniserklärung (declaration of consent) of their parent or legal guardian.

How can I renew my library card?

A renewal can be made via Online-Verlängerung (online renewal) or in person in the library. Please come to the registration point at the book issue desk (Site Unter den Linden) or the registration point at the lending desk (Site Potsdamer Straße).

Can I borrow books to take home?

If you wish to borrow books to take home, we need - in addition to your identification document - a certificate of residence in Germany. If your address is not on your identification document, we need an official registration certificate.

Citizens from non-EU countries who wish to take books home need a residence permit which is still valid for at least three months or the certificate of matriculation of a university in Germany.

As a rule, you can borrow items published after 1955.

I do not live in Berlin, I come for a visit – can I request books in advance?

You have the possibility to prepare your visit to the Staatsbibliothek even if you do not yet have a library card.

Our registration service offers you the possibility to pre-order items already one week before your arrival. In case you need materials from special collections (e.g. maps or sheet music), please contact the respective special department.

All necessary information can be found on the page for visitors.

Library account | Password

Where do I get an overview of requests, reservations and dates due for return?

In your library account you can see the progress of orders, items on loan and due dates. You can also renew borrowed items and update your address information.

How can I change my password or my address?

Log in to your Bibliothekskonto (library account). You can access your library account either on the library homepage in the horizontal menu on the top right, in the drop-down menu under ‚Service/library account‘ or via the catalogue in the navigation menu, left side.

When you have opened your account you find links on the left side, among others the link "Passwort ändern" (change password) or you may as well change your email address when you click on ‚Benachrichtigungen‘ (notifications).

Updates of your personal data and adress information are made upon presentation of the respective documents (identity card or passport and certificate of residence) either at the issue desk (site Unter den Linden) or the lending desk (site Potsdamer Straße). You cannot change these data directly in your library account.

Will I be notified via email or SMS?

Yes, this is possible. You sign in to your Bibliothekskonto (library account) and click on „Benachrichtigungen“ (notifications). There you may enter your email address and select how you want to be notified. You can also enter a phone number and be notified via SMS (only possible for reserved items).

Requests | Borrowing | Returns

How do I find the materials I need?

After searching in the catalogue you can order the desired items by clicking on the button Verfügbarkeit anzeigen / bestellen (Check availability / request). Type in the number of your library card and the password (the default password is your date of birth in the format DDMMYYYY), then you select where you wish to collect the item.

Requested items which will be consulted in the reading rooms or taken home are kept for seven working days.

If a book (an item) is already on loan, you have the possibility to make a reservation. You will be notified when the item is ready for you. Then you have seven days to collect the item.

How many items can I borrow from the Staatsbibliothek?

You can borrow up to 50 books to take home (Potsdamer Straße) and order up to 20 books to the reading rooms (Potsdamer Straße or Unter den Linden).

If you wish to borrow up to 50 items or more, which you either want to consult in the reading room or which you want to take home, we kindly ask you to make an application (free of charge).

How and where can I collect my requested items?

When placing your request you can select where you want to collect the items:

  • at the site Potsdamer Straße: collection area a) for items to take home or b) for use in the reading room

  • at the site Unter den Linden: book issue desk

Items to take home can only be delivered to the respective collection area at the site Potsdamer Straße where readers can collect them.

How and where can I collect my reserved items?

We will notify you as soon as your reservation is ready for collection. The notification includes the final collection date and the respective collection areas:

  • site Potsdamer Straße: a) for items to take home and b) for items ordered to the reading room 

  • or site Unter den Linden: book issue desk.

You will then have seven days to collect the item.

How long will it take for the book to arrive?

That depends on different factors: location in the stacks, weekday and time of the day. You can see the status of your request in your library account.

When you order an item after 4 pm, the requested item can only be delivered on the next day at the earliest. Requested books which you wish to take home will be held in the collection area for seven days (Potsdamer Straße exclusively) as well as books ordered to the reading rooms will be kept for seven days.

Materials of the special departments can only be requested and consulted in the respective special reading rooms.

How do I know if the item I requested is ready for collection?

You place a request and on the next opening day you receive an email. If the book is collected on the day of the request, no email notification will be sent. In your library account you can also see which items are ready for collection. Please log in with your card number and password, on the left you will then see loans, reservations and requests. If a requested item is ready for collection, it will no longer be shown in the category 'Bestellungen' (requests) but in the category 'Entleihungen' (loans) and you see the word 'abholbereit'(= ready for collection).

How long will you keep requested items for me?

Requested books will be kept for seven days.

The final collection date of your reservation is included in the notification the library sends to you. As a rule, reservations are kept for seven days.

I have reserved books: How do I know when I can collect them?

If you have supplied your email address, you will receive an email, when a reserved book is ready for collection. You may supply a telephone number and register to be notified via SMS (service only available for reserved items). If you have not supplied any other contact information, we will notify you by post. In your library account you can enter and update your email address and/or your telephone number under 'Benachrichtigungen' (notifications).

In which cases is it possible to take books home?

As a rule you can borrow and take home items which have been published after 1955. Excluded are materials from the reading room collections, large formats, especially valuable books, and items which, for preservation reasons, are only available to view in the reading room, for example loose-leaf publications and unbound journals.

How do I get information, whether or not the book which I requested can be supplied?

In your library account we give information why the requested item cannot be delivered. Under "Bestellungen" (requests) you can see the current status of your requests. Therefore it is not necessary to come to the library in person, you can get information about the progress of your requests at home. If you have questions, we would be happy to answer them at one of our information points. When your request has been processed, you will no longer find the title under "Bestellungen" (requests), but then under "Entleihungen" (loans).

Where can I return my books?

We recommend you return items to the lending desk (Potsdamer Straße) or the book issue desk (Unter den Linden), for returned items you will be given a return receipt.

You may return items using a book return facility either at the site Potsdamer Straße besides the entrance control or at the site Unter den Linden near the cloakroom. Returning items without receipt is at one’s own risk (Benutzungsordnung/conditions of use § 9,9) and the borrower will still be held responsible (BO § 5,2 and 3).

I haven’t found a book / a journal in the catalogue. What can I do?

Please contact one of our reference desks, if you need to know whether or not the Staatsbibliothek holds a particular title. During opening times you can contact us via telephone number +49 (030) 266 433 888.

For items not held within the Staatsbibliothek, you may fill in an inter-library loan request - Fernleihbestellung.

Which meaning do the abbreviations in my notifications have?

Abbreviation Plain text
LS = Haus 2 / Lesesaal Potsdamer Straße, Reading room / lending desk
OL = Haus 2 / Selbstabholbereich Potsdamer Straße, Off-site loans
BÜ = Haus 1 / Lesesaal Bücherausgabe Unter den Linden, Reading room / lending desk
S1 = Haus 1 / Lesesaal Sonderbereich Unter den Linden, Reading room / special area
S2 = Haus 2 / Lesesaal Sonderbereich Potsdamer Straße, Reading room / special area
MU = Haus 1 / Musik-Lesesaal Unter den Linden, Music reading room

Loan period | Renewal | Fines

For how long can I borrow a book?

The normal loan period is 30 calendar days. It is possible to renew as long as the item is not reserved.

Will I be reminded of the end of the loan period?

If you wish to be reminded of the end of the loan period of your borrowed items, you can sign up for the reminder service. In your library account under "Benachrichtigungen" (notifications) you select the option "Mitteilung zu demnächst fälligen Medien" (information on items due for return).

Please consider that this is only an additional service of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Overdue fines for books/items which were returned too late will not be waived, they still must be paid. Therefore you should always check when your borrowed items are due for return.

Is it possible to renew my books and how often can I renew books?

Books which you have taken home can be renewed in your library account. Books can be renewed five times. You can renew your items provided that:

  • you have a valid library card

  • your library card is not blocked

  • the item has not been reserved

Not earlier than ten calendar days before the end of the loan period you can renew your items.

If you still need the item after its fifth renewal, it first has to be presented at the book issue desk and then it can be renewed - unless it is reserved by another reader.

The regulations for renewal do not apply to so-called special loans (permanent lockers or book trolleys).

Normally you can renew items which you ordered to the reading room only when you appear in person:

  • at the site Unter den Linden at the book issue desk and

  • at the site Potsdamer Straße in the self-service pick-up area for books ordered to the reading room

For more information please look at 'Loan Period, Renewals and Fines'

How do I renew items from the library?

Not earlier than ten days before the item is due for return, you can mark it in your library account. Please select all items which you wish to renew! Other possibilities to renew are

in person:

  • at the site Unter den Linden at the book issue desk, 1st floor

  • at the site Potsdamer Straße at the lending desk, ground floor

by telephone:

  • 266 433 999 lending desk, Potsdamer Straße

  • 266 433 777 book issue desk, Unter den Linden

via mail:

Please be aware that renewals of items which you ordered to the reading room normally must be made in person at the library.

What happens when I do not return the book after the end of the loan period?

You will receive a reminder by post or by email/SMS. These reminders are generated automatically. You will also have to pay an overdue fine for every single item:

1st overdue reminder: 3 Euro

2nd overdue reminder: 4 Euro

3rd overdue reminder: 5 Euro

4th overdue reminder: 10 Euro

The library sends out overdue reminders every 10 calendar days.

The following only applies, when there is no response to the reminders:

Any user who, on demand, fails to return an item has to face legal action and will be held liable for all costs incurred.

We do not charge overdue fines for items, which were ordered to the reading rooms.

How and where can I pay overdue fines?

You have different opportunities to pay:

  • at payment machines (cash / EC card)

    • at the site Unter den Linden on the ground floor and on the 1st floor

    • at the site Potsdamer Straße on the ground floor opposite the lending desk

  • bank transfer

If you make a bank transfer please specify your library card number, because without the number we will not be able to assign the payment to your library account. Please consider that the transfer may take a couple of days until the library receives the payment (up to ten days).

As long as you pay fines and charges on time, you avoid your library account being blocked! When you pay outstanding fines or charges, your library account will be unblocked. In urgent cases you can also send an email with attachment (transfer voucher) to ausleihe@sbb.spk-berlin.de.

Loans are not automatically extended when you pay overdue charges or fines. You still have to renew the items.

In the reading room

Is there a place where I can leave my books for more than one day?

For a monthly fee of 5 € you can rent a locker (site Potsdamer Straße) or a trolley (site Unter den Linden). For rental forms and information on other additional services please look here. Lockers and trolleys will be listed on your library account. After the end of the loan period a reminder will be sent and you will be charged an overdue fine. The rental period cannot be extended.

Can I use Wifi in the Staatsbibliothek?

Yes, registered readers can use Wifi in the library buildings.

The default password for your library account must be changed for that purpose. Only a password which is at least six characters long and contains at least one letter, one number, and one special character enables you to use Wifi. If you change the password for your library account (which is also possible at the reading room terminals) please wait about 30 minutes before continuing.

Among the available networks you will see the SPK access. Select the SPK network and the Wifi welcome page, containing more information, will open. For entering the name of your operating system during the registration process you have to know the operating system of your device.

If you are not successful with your registration, please contact staff at our information desks, who will try to assist you. For more difficult problems we offer a regular Wifi consultation hour at the site Unter den Linden as well as at the site Potsdamer Straße.

The start of print-jobs from your laptop ist possible. View instructions on the pages of the copy-shop.

Can I reserve a reader space?

Yes, that is possible. In both buildings you can reserve working places and carrels. Please note that there may be waiting lists.

Are there copying facilities in the library?

Of course you can. In both buildings readers may use the facilities of our copy centre:

  • At the site Unter den Linden the copy centre is located on the 1st floor beside the book issue desk, on the way to the Rare Books reading room.

  • At the site Potsdamer Straße the copy centre is located on the 1st floor (level of the library café) directly left of the main stairway.

There you have the opportunity to put money on your library card in order to use the scanners. As soon as you have added credit to your library account, you may use all facilities available in the copy centre.

Service hours: Mon-Fri 9am-8.45pm and Sat 10am-6.45pm.

Can I request an item to be scanned?

Yes, scanning services are provided by our DigiService.

Is there a cafeteria?

Yes. At our site Potsdamer Straße you find the library café on the 1st floor.

In the foyer of the site Unter den Linden you will find a temporary area - caused by refurbishment - where readers can sit down and find some vending machines stocked with snacks and drinks.

Am I allowed to take drinks into the reading room?

Yes, it is permitted to take water into the controlled area of the general reading rooms provided that readers use closed and clear bottles. Please close the bottles and keep them under the reading room tables.

Bringing drinks and food into the controlled areas is not permitted.

If you buy food and drinks in the library café, please consume them in the café. Bringing products bought in the café into the reading rooms is not permitted, except for water in closed and clear bottles.