Manuscripts and Early Printed Books

Rare Books Reading Room

5. June, 14 Uhr – 9. June Library Closed, Web Services Not Available

The Rare Books Reading Room is located Unter den Linden and is one of the largest rooms in the building. It was newly built during the renovation of the site from 2005 to 2012 and opened in 2013 as a successor of the Berlin University Library’s reading room which was situated right here from 1905 to 1945 (former Friedrich Wilhelms-Universität, today Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). Four ionic columns were restored with great care as sole remains of this building.

Two artworks have their place in the Rare Books Reading Room: 

Alexander von Humboldt – a painting by Julius Schrader executed in 1869
„Abstrakte Uhren“ – a clock object by Tobias Rehberger (after  „Movement in Squares“ by Bridget Riley). 

In addition to the Staatsbibliothek’s Conditions of use Benutzungsordnung, there are some further regulations for  conservative reasons: No beverages are allowed, notes may be taken by pencil or electronic devices only. An extra registration for the Rare Books Reading Room is required once a year in addition to your library card. Please bring an ID for this purpose. 
The main part of the historical holdings may be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room only:

Special Collections  
(e.g. Rare Books, 16th century Collection, Artists‘ and Fine Press Books, Bibliothek Diez)

Catalogue StaBiKat: „Unter den Linden - Bestellung/Benutzung im Rara-Lesesaal“
Please order by e-mail: (Monday to Thursday until 7 PM for the following day; no orders on Saturdays)
Please quote: Number of your library card, shelf mark(s), special collection if necessary (R, KD, EBD, S16), information about the book: author, title, publication year, and your preferred delivery date. We accept five simultaneous orders only for the special collections. Usually up to ten volumes are delivered. Books are held up to ten days for consultation, this time may be extended upon request.

Books from 1601 – 1850
(Main Collection)

Catalogue StaBiKat: „Benutzung nur im Lesesaal“
Please order online elektronisch. You will find all information about your orders in your library account. 


Incunable may be ordered and consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room Handschriftenlesesaal. Please contact

The Staatsbibliothek’s holdings of old and rare books can be found in the online catalogue StaBiKat. For searches by subject please also use the „Alter Realkatalog“ ARK-Online. Besides, the Rare Book Reading Room provides a comprehensive reference library about book and library history. Handbibliothek. Further information may be found on Websites about books history Buchhistorische Internetangebote

We are happy to provide information about our holdings on site in the Rare Books Reading Room. Written requests are also welcome. We answer bibliographic as well as subject specific questions. We also look up the relevant books for checking a quote or finding an illustration, compare various editions etc. If we do not hold a copy of the book in question, we will refer you to other libraries‘ holdings. Books from our special collections are not available by inter-library loan. We do lend microforms.

Each of the 48 places in the Rare Books Reading Room has an IT-connection, WIFI, a socket, a hook for laptop locks and an adjustable lamp. One place is vertically adjustable for wheelchairs. In addition, there are six research computers, two multimedia computers, a book scanner (for the reference library) and a microform scanner. For book friendly reading we offer foam bookholders, velvet coated book snakes and acid-free bookmarkers.