The Archives’ library is a well-sorted special library on the history of science of the 20th century. The focus is on publications on the history of the Kaiser Wilhlem / Max Planck Societies. The library is a tool for using the Archives’ collections. In addition, it is open for viewing to everyone. Its holdings currently comprise 

  • approx. 40 100 volumes
  • approx. 7 300 units of what is referred to as literature without clearly identifiable authors including brochures of related scientific institutions, public authorities and companies presenting their research activities, copies of articles etc.
  • as well as subscriptions to some 150 journals.
  • approx. 200 000 offprints

It is a reference library. For personnel reasons, we are unfortunately unable to offer interlibrary loan services until further notice; however, copies can be made at our premises. To be able to serve you as swiftly as possible, pre-ordering is advisable.

Since the data is currently transferred to a new catalogue, access to the online service is not possible for the time being.


Our collecting activity focuses on the publications of the Kaiser Wilhelm / Max Planck Societies and on articles about both Societies and the scientists working at their Institutes. Furthermore, it encompasses fundamental works and representations in the fields of natural and human sciences. However, technical literature relating to individual disciplines is not included, except from the publications of the Scientific Members of the two Societies. The library does not serve as a reception point for residual libraries of closed Institutes. The areas of research organization, research politics and research promotion at university and extra-university levels also fall within the emphases (which are not national in scope) of this – at least in Berlin – “most important library for the history of science” (Heidemarie Schade, 1987).

New acquisitions:

The German and the international book markets as well as the offers of German and foreign antiquarian bookshops are continuously being observed with the objective of acquiring topical new publications or particularly rare books without delay.


New acquisitions are continually and topically registered and indexed, made accessible by means of standard headwords, and are available for scientific use immediately. Documentary indexing also extends to journal articles and articles from collected editions so that a great ease of search can be offered.


The reference works are avaible to you in the Reading Room for free use within the opening hours. Orders from the repository are presented directly in the Reading Room.


fig.: Otto Warburg in the library of the Max Planck Institute for Cell Physiology.

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