Until the beginning of the twentieth century, medieval library catalogues had been only sporadically and unsystematically edited, remaining thus partially inaccessible for research. The MBK were founded as a commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften: BAdW) in 1906 in coordination with the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften: ÖAW), which similarly founded a commission to this purpose, the „Kommission zur Herausgabe der mittelalterlichen Bibliothekskataloge Österreichs", later renamed as the "Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters" and now the „Abteilung Schrift- und Buchwesen“ (cf. Links). It was the original intention of this joint enterprise to cover the entire area of Central Europe, i.e. the extent of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. However, the enormity of this task soon forced the founding fathers to scale down their plans, reducing their coverage to the areas of Austria, to be undertaken by the ÖAW, and Germany and Switzerland, for which the BAdW (originally financed by the cartel of German academies) was responsible.
Since then much has changed, not least the political borders of Germany, which were redrawn several times. Much source material and indeed whole libraries and archives exist no longer. On the positive side, the finding and accessing of source material has been revolutionized by modern cataloguing, scholarly research, edition projects and digitization, offering whole new research possibilities. Finally, the MBK themselves were touched by change in 2015 through the transformation from a commission to a project in the course of structural modernization at the BAdW. As a long-term basic research project, however, the purpose and aims of the MBK remain constant.
2015 Umgestaltung zum Projekt gemäß Satzung der BAdW