Music Department

Conditions of use

Rare Books and Music Reading Room (Book Shell)
Rare Books and Music Reading Room (Book Shell)
Rare Books and Music Reading Room (Book Shell)

Special collections

The consultation of autographs, manuscripts, letters, personal papers, and rare items as well as records, and music cassettes is only possible for scientific purposes. For preservation reasons, microfilm alternatives will be issued, if possible. When schellac records are requested, a recording on cassette will be issued.

For organisational reasons, the consultation of most outstanding items (so-called "top autographs") is not possible on Saturdays. Secondary formats are excluded from this restriction.


According to the general borrowing conditions of the Staatsbibliothek, books and music scores which have been published after 1956 can generally be borrowed. The following items are excluded: material from the reading room collections, the collections of the Mendelssohn Archive, sheet music for voice, as well as oversize formats. Sound carriers and special collection items cannot be borrowed.


Requested items are fetched from the stacks at 10 am and 2 pm (except on Saturdays). Delivery does not take place on Saturdays; requests for Saturdays have to be placed until Friday 2 pm at the very latest.

Requests to the Rare Books and Music Reading Room can be made online through the StaBiKat catalogue and the library account or directly in the reading room on special white request forms. Readers may request items which are searchable in the image card catalogues (IPACs) by using the catalogue’s request function. Special collection items can only be requested on white request forms.

Items ordered to the Rare Books and Music Reading Room and received up to 10 am or 2 pm respectively, are delivered ca. two hours later; requests placed after 2 pm will be available on the following day after ca. 12 am.

External visitors can place a written request for specific items, provided that they announce their visit to the Rare Books and Music Reading Room at least 4 opening days in advance.

Normally, requests for borrowing can be made online through the StaBiKat and via the library account. Books requested before 10 am will be delivered in the afternoon, books requested before 2 pm will be delivered on the following opening day and can be collected in the pick-up area Haus Potsdamer Straße 33.


Books on music acquired since 1909, music scores acquired since 1990, and sound carriers acquired since 2002 as well as all reference works have been recorded in the online catalogue StaBiKat. Most older holdings are searchable in alphabetical card catalogues. The three most important catalogues for print material published after 1701 and sound carriers are available as image card catalogues.

The department has special catalogues for books and printed music published up to 1700, music manuscripts, and autographs, letters, personal papers, and pictorial material. For information please contact staff at the enquiry desk in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room.

Printed catalogues for specific parts of the holdings have been published and are available in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room.

Digital images and reproductions

For preservation reasons, manuscript materials, older books, and printed music as well as books with brittle paper or other damages are not suitable for self-service copying. In the case of copyright-free works, it is however possible to request digital reproductions, and/or duplicates, and paper copies of existing microfilms, depending of the type of material. For further details please contact staff in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room or send an email to the music department.

No copies are made of copyright works and editions. In general, readers themselves are responsible for complying with copyright restrictions regarding music scores (sheet music).

Leaflet explaining how to copy music scores for private use and how these copies may be used for public performance.