University Library Freiburg has created an infrastructure for supplying literature and media throughout the entire university. It also ensures the safety and preservation of its extensive collections, participates in the university’s transfer of knowledge and technology, and, last but not least, contributes to the university’s cultural profile. The FreiDok plus open access publication portal – one of the world’s best repositories – is the University Library Freiburg’s electronic platform for academic publications published within the university. The University Library promotes the acquisition of IT skills through general and subject-specific training sessions. This commitment ensures that teachers at the university are skilled and places it in one of the top positions among German libraries. University Library Freiburg works on and develops its services based on the “hybrid library” concept. The traditional part of this library comprises the actual place, in other words the library building with its reading rooms, workstations, stacks and the physical (particularly the printed) holdings listed in Katalog plus. The digital library describes the ability to access information services, e.g. the subject portals, via the internet as well as media available online (subject databases, electronic journals, e-books) no matter where you are. The University Library’s work is based on the fact that the library sees itself as one of the University of Freiburg’s customer-oriented service providers. The library is, however, also open to interested local citizens. Alongside the University Library, the university’s institute and department libraries form a simple and functional library system. Most of the media held in the peripheral libraries are reference holdings, which means they cannot be borrowed and can only be used on site.
The University Library currently holds more than 3 million works in the humanities fields. A further 2 million volumes are available in the peripheral libraries. The University Library’s historic collections include an extensive range of manuscripts, literary remains, incunabula and prints dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, which are increasingly being digitised and made available online.
Moreover, the University Library is constantly expanding its widespread collection of e-journals, e-books and databases. In addition, the library’s media centre is home to an extensive collection of audiovisual materials, which can be used for academic purposes.
The library’s roots go back as far as the year the university was founded: 1457. Its history is closely associated with the works of the Society of Jesus throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. The library management was restructured by the Austrian government at the end of the 18th century, as the Southern Baden region was part of the Habsburg Empire. In the late 18th and the 19th century, the library’s body of literature was heavily expanded through the dissolution of the Jesuit colleges from 1773 and other religious orders after 1780, when the region was still under Austrian rule. But the library ultimately saw its largest expansion of works during secularisation from 1803 to 1806. The subsequent acquisition of huge book collections also posed new challenges in terms of how to store them. In 1903, the library moved into a new neo-Gothic building designed by Carl Schäfer. It served as the University Library until 1978 and has been home to one of the university’s largest peripheral joint libraries ever since. The new build that housed the University Library from 1978 was a highly functional building, but it required renovation after three decades of extremely intense use.