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Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz (MBK)


The MBK Database

Or first read the short introduction

What does the MBK Database contain?

The MBK database is a research tool designed to document the state of research on medieval library catalogues in modern-day Germany and Switzerland and make it readily searchable.

The data was compiled on the basis of

  • the hitherto most comprehensive compendia of medieval library catalogue by:
    •  Theodor Gottlieb (Über mittelalterliche Bibliotheken, Leipzig 1890) and 
    • Gustav Becker (Catalogi bibliothecarum antiqui, Bonn 1885),
    • with supplementary secondary literature (e.g. Gabriel Meier: Nachträge zu Gottlieb: Über mittelalterliche Bibliotheken; in: Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen 20 (1903), pp. 17-31)
  • the printed MBK volumes I-IV,
  • and work materials already collected for future MBK editions as well as a preview of the contents of MBK volume V (in preparation, numbers and page references subject to change).
  • This material has been supplemented with the findings of unsystematic research forays into literature, archive finding books and internet resources in order to at least rudimentarily take account of more recent findings, particularly in the northern, central, and eastern regions of Germany that have not yet been documented by MBK.

The medieval time-frame has been slightly extended to include 16th century catalogues up to ca. 1550, so as to not exclude the voluminous library inventories that were made at the beginning of the Reformation (particularly in the protestant territories), these being often the first and last records of then still existing medieval libraries. In contrast to the printed compendia and earlier MBK volumes, the database also comprises collections with a large percent of early printed books as well as small book lists, in particular as contained in private testaments and estates.

The entries include:

  • the original location of the library and the institution or persons who owned it: archdiocesis, bishopric, place, name of the institution or person
  • information about the catalogue itself: type, content, and date
  • Information about the transmission and preservation of the source: place, library/archive, shelfmark, folio numbers
  • edtions, research literature, links to digital resources

The data is structured in table-layout. In the overview, the entries are presented in short form with key information; by clicking the individual entries, they can be viewed in full detail and copied into the clipboard.

The data is completely full-text searchable using the search filters. By clicking the table headers, the results may be alphanumerically sorted.

 A note to users on our own behalf

The MBK database is based on the results of international study on the history of books and libraries and is a free public resource for the various branches of humanities research (e.g. biographical studies, the history of books, ideas, institutions etc.) that make use of medieval library catalogues as sources. Due to the progress in cataloguing and researching the contents of libraries and archives, and also thanks to the enormous technological advances in the accessability and searchability of data and literature, the number of medieval catalogues has increased over the years from 121 in 1885 (Becker) and 278 in 1890 (Gottlieb) to now 866 (October 2021). And these processes are ongoing.

Thus, although it is the goal of the MBK database to be as comprehensive as possible, it cannot claim to be exhaustive. To keep the database apace of developments, we would like to invite users to inform us about recently discovered or overseen sources and research publications. Please don’t hesitate to send us your suggestions.

We would like take this occasion to thank the many archivists and librarians who have helped us to check and update the sometimes very outdated information in older publications.


Please send your suggestions and feedback to:

Dr. Duane Henderson