Newspaper Department

History

Although the department was only first established in 1993, the newspaper collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has a tradition which reaches far back into the history of the library. In the 18th and 19th centuries, newspapers were included in the Prussian legal deposit regulations. During the mid-19th century, the library, then known as the “Königliche Bibliothek” (royal library), carried out intensive and systematic expansions of its holdings, which led the newspaper collection to become the most comprehensive collection in Germany. As a result of the evacuations of the holdings during the Second World War, many items of the newspaper collection as well as the entire library suffered severe damage and loss. Once the library reopened after the war, the acquisition of the newly published newspapers was resumed immediately in Haus Unter den Linden. With the legal deposit law, the library, then known as “Deutsche Staatsbibliothek”, received every newspaper which was published in the GDR. The library obtained a comprehensive and extensive collection of GDR newspapers, and additionally kept the most important titles in microform format. Due to the limited possibilities of the GDR, the library could only acquire a selection of foreign newspapers.


The holdings of the Preußische Staatsbibliothek which were evacuated to western parts of Germany during the war were the foundation of the “Westdeutsche Bibliothek”. Acquisition for the newspaper collection of the “Westdeutsche Bibliothek” did not commence until late in the 1940s. However, once the library resumed acquisition again, the collection was expanded intensively to include foreign newspapers as well as bibliographic indexes.


The German Research Foundation (DFG) provided funding for the library’s special subject collection „Foreign newspapers“(part of the DFG-funded system of supraregional literature supply). This helped the Staatsbibliothek to continue the work of its predecessors. Foreign newspapers became a special collection focus in 1982 and a special subject collection in 2005. They were acquired on a representative scale in cooperation with the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Ibero-American Institute of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz). As of 31.12.2015 this DFG programme has been terminated.


Starting in 1993, materials considered to be newspapers were selected from the journal holdings of both locations of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and were merged into the newspaper collection. In 1997, the entire newspaper department, along with its collection and staff, was moved to its current location at Westhafen. Once the new reading room has been completed and the refurbishment has ended, the newspaper department will return to the historic site at Unter den Linden.