Special collections

The special collections include manuscripts, handwritten works, literary remains, old prints, rare books, a small papyrus collection and selected holdings of institutional provenance.

The special collections are a combination of older, rare, valuable and protected holdings. They also include late antique papyri and papyrus fragments, medieval and modern manuscripts, handwritten works and literary remains. Incunabula and prints dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries are the main holdings in the “Old prints” section. Then there are the rare books: a selection of historic prints pre-dating 1900 and special modern protected prints.

A selection of holdings with unique provenance, in particular the holdings with the NB shelf mark, have been separated into their own groups of collections since the 2000s. The other special collections include the library’s art collection and an extensive collection of audio recordings with documents dating back as far as the 19th century.

Historic holdings and their usage

Special collections reading room

The historic collections have their very own workstations and reading area. We can provide information about the holdings and have the documents ready for you to view in the special collections reading room.

Reproductions and publications

As long as it is justifiable for conservation reasons, we allow individual works from our holdings to be reproduced for academic purposes. They are reproduced in digital format only. 

Users must consult with the librarians before creating their own recordings using a camera or scanner in the special collections reading room. Library users cannot photocopy original holdings in the library’s self-service area.

Please refer to the digitalisation centre’s service information for more details on reproductions as well as prices and fees.

Orders for reproductions of the historic holdings can be made online.

The purchaser is responsible for observing the copyright provisions.

Please contact the Head of Special Collections to publish documents from the University Library’s historic holdings.

University of Freiburg