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Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz (MBK)


The usefulness of useless books

In Sebastian Brandt’s satiric „Ship of Fools“ (1494), the first to be named is the foolish bibliomane who, as he openly confesses, quite uselessly owns a pile of books which he neither reads nor understands:

„ich on nutz vil buecher han
Die ich nit lyß vnd nit verstan“

Nonetheless – or rather, for that very reason – he has his place at the front of the boat, because he can always rely on his “libry” (his library).

A Place for Books

The word “library” means both a collection of books and the building or room in which such books are stored. Library catalogues – a term we define in the broadest possible sense (cf. Library catalogues) – contain a wealth of information about libraries in both senses of the word. That makes them invaluable sources not just for the history of books and libraries, but also for many other aspects of cultural and intellectual history.

The project Medieval Library Catalogues of Germany and Switzerland (“Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands and der Schweiz”, short: MBK) aims at recording and publishing in critical edition as many of these indeed very useful books as possible, making them available for a wide range of historical research.


The project Medieval Library Catalogues of Germany and Switzerland is funded by the Free State of Bavaria.