Mainz City Library

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Mainz City Library
Mainz City Library.JPG

Entrance door of the city library

founding 1477
Duration 675,000
Library type library
place Mainz
Website Libraries of the city of Mainz

The Mainz City Scientific Library is a municipal scientific library in Germany . It has an inventory of around 675,000 media units. Its beginnings go back to 1477.

History and inventory development

The Scientific City Library goes back to the Bibliotheca Universitatis Moguntinae of the Electoral University, founded in 1477, which was abolished by the French government in the course of the Revolutionary Wars in 1798 . City Library and Martinus Library are the two oldest libraries in Mainz ; their historical holdings complement each other and some come from identical provenances. The city library owes most of its older books to the libraries of the Mainz branch of the Jesuits, which was dissolved in 1773, and the three richest monasteries in the city, the Kartause , Reichklara-Kloster and Altmünster, which were closed in 1781 . The handwritten and printed holdings from the libraries of the mendicant orders that were abolished during the secularization - such as the Augustinian hermits , the Franciscans (OFM) , the Carmelites and the Capuchins  - are also reflected in the historical fund. Because of these sources, the main focus of the old holdings is on the subjects of theology, philosophy, history, law and philology. The extensive donations in a large thematic variety from individuals, clergy, members of the University of Mainz and citizens from the city and the surrounding area, who came to the library directly or via the dissolved monasteries, deserve attention . The library of the Mainz canon and language teacher Johannes Petrus Schick († 1716) in the vicinity of the electoral court of Johann Philipp von Schönborn , Johann Christian von Boyneburg and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is an example of outstanding private libraries , the majority of which found their way into the Rara collection .

By order of the French interior minister Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny , which arrived in Mainz on October 5, 1805, the holdings of the old university library with the libraries of the abolished monasteries passed into the possession of the city of Mainz - on condition that the city the The costs of maintaining the same and the salaries of the officials were paid for.

«The Mayence Library is mise à la disposition de la commune. »

"The Mainz library is made available to the community."

- Decree of the French Minister of the Interior, 1805

In October 2005, the 200th birthday of the municipal library was celebrated with a ceremony in the Mainz town hall . In the commemorative publication 200 Years of Mainz City Library published on the occasion , Kurt Flasch , one of the long-time users of the house, wrote “Praise to the Mainz City Library”, which ends with an appeal: The people of Mainz should know: They don't just have a 'pharmacy here of the spirit 'but a treasure trove of European history.

Exterior view of the Scientific City Library Mainz 2006

In the following time the library was housed in different buildings. The location of the library at the time of the electorate from 1744 until 1842/1845 was the Burse on Neubrunnenplatz. From 1814 to 1829, the former Jacobin, Professor Friedrich Lehne , headed the city library as senior librarian and was also city archivist after his predecessor Franz Joseph Bodmann was dispensed. The library was then moved to the Electoral Palace by 1912 .

The construction of a library building in Rheinallee, which was completed in 1912, was owed in particular to the commitment of Mainz alderman Karl Göttelmann . The Mainz city planning inspector Adolf Gelius was responsible for planning the building that helped the Art Nouveau style to break through in Mainz . The architect planned to use the latest building technology at the time to accelerate internal communication, for which he provided elevator and pneumatic tube systems . The Lipman shelving system was chosen as the shelving system and is still in use today. In view of the difficult financial situation of the city, the type and extent of the Bauzier, z. B. Use of shell limestone instead of sandstone , hotly debated. The financing was based on surpluses of the Sparkasse Mainz as own share and contributions from the Reich and the Grand Duchy of Hesse, the construction costs amounted to 665,000 marks . The building was inaugurated on November 14, 1912.

Special collections

Initial from the Bible manuscript Hs II 50

The special collections include the production of children's book publisher Joseph Scholz, Mainz, with books for children and young people, board and card games designed by important illustrators; also the Moyat Collection , the internationally important private library of the Mainz ornithologist Jacob Moyat (1861–1933), which he bequeathed to the library of his hometown in his will and the Peter Cornelius Archive, the most extensive collection of handwritten and printed sources on life and musical and literary sources Work by the Mainz poet and composer Peter Cornelius . Both the Peter Cornelius Archive and the Scholz Collection are supplemented by antiquarian acquisitions.

In 1981, the Mainz City Library was given a cataloged collection of around 700 Erfurtensien by the chairman, Lorenz Drehmann of the Erfurt Faithfulness Association.

A collection of Mainz newspapers, the publication of which dates back to the 18th century, can be viewed on films. The use of the originals has been restricted for conservation reasons.

The historical ensemble and its preservation

The ensemble of manuscripts, historical prints and special materials, which has grown over centuries, represents a particular wealth. The importance and special value of the holdings cannot be measured solely in terms of outstanding individual items, but in the collection as a whole, which, like all historical libraries, are unconditional Ensemble protection enjoys. The manuscripts and old holdings of the library are an expression of the late medieval monastic and university spirituality and education and, for the 19th and 20th centuries, also testify to the close ties between the citizens and the institution, to which they dedicated their own publications and left branch libraries. The prints of the 16th-18th centuries Century reflect the development of printing history since the incunable . The preservation of the written cultural assets of manuscripts and printed works is a permanent obligation for the Scientific City Library. This is expressed in the central position of the preservation department within the building. Inventory inspection, cleaning, climate control, book maintenance and the production of protective containers are measures of preventive inventory maintenance. The specimens damaged by natural aging, intensive use, improper storage, exposure to moisture and pest infestation are processed in the house bookbindery, the restoration workshop of the city of Mainz (located in the Gutenberg Museum ) and in independent restoration workshops and returned for use in the historical reading room . In addition to the municipal and state funds for the restoration , the city library launched a book sponsorship project in 2006 under the title Patient Book Seeking Godparents . Above all, private individuals, along with some associations and companies, make their contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage and identify to a large extent with the institution through the printing works they have financed in full or in part. The book sponsorship project ended in 2018.

Collection of rarities

Michael Stifel: A rake Büchlin Vom EndChrist… Wittenberg 1532. Copy of the Mainz City Library XIII q 14 No. 2 from the possession of Achilles Pirminius Gasser zu Lindau

The treasures of the library are books that are particularly valuable and rare in artistic or printing history, first editions and dedicated copies as well as protected bindings, prints with cover waste , bibliophile editions and books from important provenances (books) . They are therefore set up separately and are subject to the same conditions of use as the manuscripts that are used under supervision in designated places in the historical reading room. From a cultural and socio-historical point of view, the Mainzer Fastnachtszeitungen collection as part of the Rara collection is of particular regional and national interest. The newspapers, often unique, are filmed and, like a growing number of rare Mainz printed works and moguntines , are accessible in full text via dilibri , the Rhineland-Palatinate digitization portal . The rarity collection comprises around 9,200 volumes; it was continuously expanded from 1985 to 2019. The extensive remnants of the Bibliotheca Palatina , which came to Mainz via the Heidelberg Jesuit branch in the 17th century, deserve special attention . The provenance research on books from the previous possession of Ottheinrich and other Palatinate electors as well as the Lindau doctor Achilles Pirminius Gasser and the humanist Ulricus Fugger (1526–1584) was an important part of the bibliographical and specimen-specific indexing work on the old inventory that was firmly established until 2019 . The cooperative indexing according to international standards takes place in the Hessian library information system HeBIS . The historical alphabetical volume catalog of the 19th and early 20th centuries should still be consulted for all research on the historical book inventory. All 36 volumes are freely accessible via the Rhineland-Palatinate digitization portal dilibri. Since 2007, Annelen Ottermann has been continuously presenting remarkable copies from the rare and old stock in the series The Special Book in the Mainz quarterly books for history, culture, politics, economics (Michael Bonewitz publishing house, Bodenheim) . The contributions from 2018 are available open access at .

Manuscripts and fragments

The city library has around 1,300 manuscripts, two thirds of which date from the Middle Ages. These mainly late medieval manuscripts come mainly from the library of the Mainz Charterhouse, which was closed in 1781. The 624 codices in the Mainz library and the worldwide displaced holdings will be merged again virtually in a DFG project at the Heidelberg University Library : Bibliotheca Cartusiana Moguntina - digital. Virtual map library Mainz . 356 theological manuscripts from the Charterhouse (Hs I 1 – Hs I 350) were described in printed volumes by deep indexing by Gerhard List and Gerhardt Powitz (Vol. I). From 2005 to 2007 further manuscripts were indexed by Gerhard List in the form of the 'inventory list'. The full text of the three volumes is available online via the Manuscripta Mediaevalia manuscript forum . The descriptions of the connection signatures Hs I 351 – Hs I 490 and Hs I 513 – Hs I 529 can also be searched here. The continuation of the manuscript indexing began in October 2017 as part of a DFG project with Christoph Winterer . The special features include seven oriental manuscripts (Hs II 427, Hs II 429 - Hs II 434) from the period between 1554 and 1680. Four codices transmit the Koran ; the remaining three volumes contain a Turkish translation of a Persian biography of Muhammad , an Arabic-language collection of legal opinions and texts on medicine in Turkish. Most of the manuscripts reached Mainz in 1686 via Baron Johann Karl von Thüngen from the Buda library as looted goods. The cataloging took place in 2017/18 at the Jena "Arabian Manuscripts" department of the "Cataloging of Oriental Manuscripts in Germany (KOHD)" project of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences by Florian Sobieroj. The KOHD database has been online since the beginning of 2019. Some of the manuscripts represent the type of oriental splendid manuscript and correspond to the design principles for Persian and Turkish splendid bindings.

In addition to the medieval and early modern codices, the collection also contains manuscripts from the 19th and 20th centuries that are of particular local and regional interest. More recently, a comedy in the tradition of the literary Vormärz has attracted the attention of carnival historians; the text was published in a critical edition. Also noteworthy is the discovery of what is possibly the first autograph record of the Vilzbach song by Carl Joseph (Anton) Weiser (1811-1865), which was published at the end of 2019.

The fragment collection built up by Annelen Ottermann (Hs frag) contains u. a. Evidence of the Mainz scriptorium from the 9th century, German-language and Hebrew fragments. The late Carolingian fragment of an illustrated commentary on the apocalypse is outstanding, adding a new facet to the history of the Trier apocalypse and attracting international attention. The fragment Hs frag 18 has been digitized via the Rhineland-Palatinate digitization portal dilibri.


The incunabula (including early prints up to 1520) have been in the Gutenberg Museum since 1962 , originally as a permanent loan and since 2005 as part of the museum's holdings, which is responsible for its administration and cataloging.


The four-story building of the city library was built on Rheinallee by 1912, on the banks of the Rhine west of the Theodor-Heuss-Brücke . The art-loving Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse took over the protectorate . The architecture shows stylistic features of neoclassicism , such as B. the colossal order with two half-columns and two half- pilasters in the central projection under the triangular gable. The sculptural decoration of the facade is influenced by the end of Art Nouveau , which radiated from the Darmstadt artist colony initiated by the Grand Duke . The half-sculpture by Johannes Gutenberg above the main portal indicates that the building also housed its exhibits until the Gutenberg Museum was built.

Since 1912, the city library has provided space for a collection of around 675,000 media in Rheinallee 3b and in additional alternative magazines.


The library is divided into the Scientific City Library at the old location and the Anna Seghers Public Library with its headquarters in the Bonifatiustürmen, as well as five district libraries . Both branches have database research systems.

The Scientific City Library held around 2000 periodicals until 2011. In response to the austerity measures, the number of periodicals was drastically cut to around 1260. It works closely with the Mainz City Archives, which are located in the same building .

The library collects regional literature on Mainz and Rheinhessen - everything that has been published and appears in print on Mainz and the Rheinhessen region , including writings on the former districts of Mainz on the right bank of the Rhine or on the territories of the Mainz Electorate . This regional collecting activity is supported by the Legal Deposit Act , which prescribes the delivery of publications from the Rheinhessen region.

In October 2011, the city administration announced plans to sell the building and divide the library into three locations. A petition was set up on the Mainz Library Society's website in November 2011, on which 5,538 citizens had campaigned for the preservation of the library as a whole and under municipal sponsorship by the end of the period. In this context, the commitment of Klaus Graf should be emphasized . In November 2011, the culture and building department announced that these plans had been abandoned, but that the city library had to expect significant cuts. After the city of Mainz joined the debt relief fund of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (city council resolution of December 14, 2011), the scientific city library is affected by drastic savings measures in terms of personnel and acquisition costs. It will respond to this challenge with a fundamental restructuring: This includes the reduction of services and the extensive discontinuation of current acquisitions. There will continue to be moderate growth in the areas of regional and research literature on manuscripts and old prints as well as on the cultural history of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. New freehand departments have been set up for both areas. In future, the Scientific City Library will present itself as a regional and research library.


In 1994 the Mainzer Bibliotheksgesellschaft e. V. founded by citizens of Mainz. It has set itself the task of promoting the city library and public library - Anna Seghers -, improving their range of literature, and supporting publications and events.


  • Jürgen Busch (Ed.): De Bibliotheca Moguntina. Festschrift of the Mainz City Library on the 50th anniversary of its building at Rheinallee 3 3/10 on November 7, 1962 . Mainz 1963. Digitized
  • Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Hrsg.): 200 years of the city library (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 52). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz in commission, 2005. 400 pages, 16 of them in color. ISBN 3-447-05202-3 .
  • Annelen Ottermann: Where do our books come from ? Provenances of the Mainz city library in the mirror of ex-libris (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 59). Mainz 2011. 192 p .; Ill. Hdl: 10760/17241 ,
  • Ramona Goebel (arrangement): Municipal administration and Mairie of the city of Mainz 1798 - 1814. Finding aid of the Mainz city archive (publications of the Rhineland-Palatinate regional archive administration; 103). Koblenz 2004. 565 p., Ill. Kt. ISBN 3-931014-66-5 [= directory of the 1300 files that were created in the Mainz city administration between 1798 and 1814]
  • Thomas Busch (Ed.): 50 Years of Freehand. Stories of pioneering spirit, changes and generosity (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 64). Mainz 2017. 40 p., Ill.

Web links

Commons : Mainz City Library  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Mainz City Library  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Annelen Ottermann: The Mainz Carmelite Library. Searching for evidence - securing evidence - interpreting evidence. (Berlin works on library and information science; 27). 2., revised. Edition Berlin: Logos Verlag, 2018. ISBN 978-3-8325-4614-4 .
  2. See the study by Christina Schmitz: Book possession and book movements in Mainz in the early modern period. An exemplary study of academic libraries from the decades around 1600 (book scholarly contributions; 100). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2020. ISBN 978-3-447-11410-3
  3. ^ Annelen Ottermann: Giovanni Pedro Schick in Magonza. A fluent Mainz native and his early modern library , Yearbook for Book and Library History 2 (2017), pp. 31–68. One revised u. actual The 2019 version is available online at [1] .
  4. ^ Karl Georg Bockenheimer : History of the city of Mainz during the second French rule 1798–1814. Kupferberg, Mainz 1890, p. 416.
  5. Excerpt from the decree of the French interior minister Champagny to the prefect of the Département du Mont Tonnerre , Jeanbon St. André , dated August 20, 1805, Mainz city archive, inventory 60/1333
  6. Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library. Wiesbaden 2005.
  7. Kurt Flasch: Praise of the Mainz City Library . In: Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library. Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 19–24, here p. 24.
  8. Rotraud Hock: Reading with a historical flair . In: Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz . November 9, 2012, p. 15 .
  9. Cornelia Schneider: The Scholz Mainz collection in the city library . In: Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library . Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 229-234
  10. ^ Rolf Schlenker: The bird book collection of Jacob Moyat in the Mainz city library . In: Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library . Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 223-228.
  11. ^ Günter Wagner: The Peter Cornelius Archive of the Mainz City Library . In: Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library. Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 213-222.
  12. Annelen Ottermann: What pays off because it pays off. The example of the Mainz book sponsorship project , in: Petra Hauke, Andreas Kaufmann, Vivien Petras (eds.): Library. Research for practice. Festschrift for Konrad Umlauf on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter / Saur, 2017, pp. 201–216. [2]
  14. Annelen Ottermann: Rara grow back. Insights into the rarity collection of the Scientific City Library Mainz . Photos by Martin Steinmetz (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 55) Mainz 2008, hdl: 10760/17240 , 120 pp.
  16. Provenance development of the old inventory
  17. Alphabetical catalog of the Mainz City Library on
  19. The manuscripts of the Mainz City Library. Described by Gerhard List. Volume I - III. Wiesbaden 1990, 1998, 2006.
  20. Annelen Ottermann: Oriental manuscripts of the Scientific City Library Mainz indexed, Library Service 53 (2019), no. 6, pp. 375–380.
  21. Annelen Ottermann: Persian splendid binding of the 16th century (contributions to binding knowledge; XXIV), Philobiblon 41 (1997), no. 1, pp. 56-61; Annelen Ottermann: Magnificent Oriental Binding of the 17th Century (Contributions to Binding Studies ; XXV), Philobiblon 42 (1998), no. 1, pp. 46–51
  22. Ambo: The Kannengießer or The unlucky serenade. 1834. ( digitized versionhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D )
  23. Annelen Ottermann; Michael Plaintiff; Ida Elisabeth Bratner: The pot pourers or the failed serenade. A Krähwinkeliade from 1834 in the tradition of the literary Vormärz , Mainz magazine. Middle Rhine Yearbook for Archeology, Art and History 113 (2018), pp. 251–291 [3]
  24. Annelen Ottermann: The song of the most beautiful quarter. The discovery of a previously unknown handwritten tradition of the Vilzbach song by Carl Weiser , MAINZ Quarterly Books for History, Culture, Politics, Economy 39 (2019), no. 4, pp. 82-86 [4]
  25. Tino light; Annelen Ottermann: From the early days of the Mainz scriptoria: an unknown Carolingian manuscript fragment (Mainz, Scientific City Library, Hs frag 20). Library Research and Practice, 41 (2017), no. 1, pp. 103–114
  26. Andreas Lehnardt; Annelen Ottermann: Fragments of Jewish culture in the Mainz city library. Discoveries and interpretations (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 62). Mainz 2014,
  27. Annelen Ottermann (ed.): The late Carolingian fragment of an illustrated apocalypse commentary in the Mainz city library: balance sheet of an interdisciplinary approach (publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 60). Mainz 2014,
  28. Hs frag 18 - Apocalypsis . Mainz City Library. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  29. Iris Hartmann: "We have the honor to ask if we want to send a deposit copy ... as soon as possible." Deposit copy and regional literature . In: Annelen Ottermann, Stephan Fliedner (Ed.): 200 years of the Mainz City Library . Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 237-250.
  32. Downsizing in the city library - location on Mainzer Rheinallee will be retained ( Memento from November 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Allgemeine Zeitung
  34. The already reduced opening times of the library were further reduced to 19 hours per week (spread over 2.5 working days) with effect from January 1, 2020.
  35. Annelen Ottermann was head of the research library from 1985-2019, the department of manuscripts, rare books, old prints, preservation and deputy head of the scientific city library in Mainz for almost 10 years. To mark their departure after 34 years, a commemorative publication was published in June 2019: Elisabeth Berninger-Rentz, Stephan Fliedner, Christoph Winterer , Christian Richter (eds.): Stabile Seitenlage. About looking after and looking after the books. Festschrift for Annelen Ottermann . (Publications of the libraries of the city of Mainz; 68). Oppenheim am Rhein: Nünnerich-Asmus, 2019. 125 pp., Illustrated ISBN 978-3-96176-081-7 .

Coordinates: 50 ° 0 ′ 30.74 "  N , 8 ° 16 ′ 9.77"  E