The Top 5 Libraries in Berlin You Should Visit

Evangelos Tsirmpas

Due to its location and their prominent role in the city’s history, Berlin’s libraries are home to some of the richest and rare collections in the world. Here’s a list of the top five libraries you should visit while in Berlin, to get a taste of the place’s great cultural heritage.


1. Berlin State Library


Berlin State Library
© | Da flow/WikiCommons
Established in 1661, this library is the largest scientific library in the German-speaking world with a collection of more than 12 million books and more than 60,000 manuscripts. The library suffered during the period of the two world wars, the period of Nazism, and during Berlin’s Separation. After Germany’s reunification, the library started developing and thriving again, and from 2000 until 2012 it was refurbished by the German architect HG Merz. Berlin State Library is called the ‘Library in Two Homes’ for being located in two different buildings in Berlin, ‘Haus Unter Den Linden’ and ‘Haus Potsdamer Straße‘. Among the treasures housed in the library are the Psalter of Ludwig the German, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, autographs of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

2. American Memorial Library

Library, Memorial

American Memorial Library
© Beek100/WikiCommons
The American Memorial Library was established in 1954, co-financed by the USA and designed by German and American architects. Located on Blucherplatz in Kreuzberg, it was initially opened as Berlin’s Central Library and after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, it was the major library in West Berlin. Nowadays, the library is regarded as one of the most important libraries in Germany’s capital, hosting about 900,000 books, including collections focused on humanities and social sciences, as well as children’s literature and music.

3. Psychoanalytical Library Berlin


Berliner Walk of Ideas
© Lienhard Schulz/WikiCommons
This library is a place focused on the study and practice of psychoanalysis, after the philosophy and practical methods of Freud and Lacan. A sizable collection of psychoanalytic literature is housed on the grounds of the Psychoanalytical Library as well as an archive of documents belonging to psychoanalytical groups Seminars, conferences and others events are hosted in an assembly room, while two consulting rooms are also in operation within the library.

4. Gay Museum

Building, Museum

Berlin’s Gay Museum (Schwules Museum) is one of the largest museums in the world to focus on gender studies and sexual identity. It hosts a library and archives and participates in many exhibitions, events, conferences and research programs devoted to promoting respect of the various sexual identities, diversity and the acknowledgement of the LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans) community in history, art and culture. The exhibition titled ‘Transformation’ focuses of the subject of gender hierarchies and the struggle to overcome them since 1800.

5. Berlin Art Library

Building, Library, Museum

Old Library building at Bebelplatz
© A.Savin/WikiCommons
Operating within the framework of the Berlin State Museum, under the auspices of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, this library was established in 1972 and nowadays hosts about 400,000 volumes, primarily focusing on the history of art literature. It is located on the Kulturforum in Berlin’s Tiergarten, in a wonderful setting in the city center, attracting thousands of visitors, locals and tourists. Apart from the literature, the library also hosts a rich photography collection dating back to the origins of photography in the late 19th Century. The library is a vivid cultural hub in Berlin, hosting and organizing a number of exhibitions and events.

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