Collection & Acquisition Policy

The BBF possesses a comprehensive collection of library and archival holdings focusing on the history of education. The collection is systematically complemented according to its acquisition and collection policy.

Collection and Acquisition Policy of the Library

The BBF library provides sources and information aids that are necessary for national and international research on the history of education. Based on an interdisciplinary, theoretically and methodologically broad concept of educational history and educational research, the library is continually expanding its holdings concerning national and international publications on the history of childcare, education and socialization.

Target Groups of the Library

  • Researchers in Germany and abroad working in the field of educational history (with a priority on the German-speaking area)
  • Students of educational science (including prospective teachers) and other disciplines
  • Other individuals interested in the history of education

Collection Policy: Current Research Literature

Regarding the acquisition of current literature, the library places a priority on publications on the history of childcare, education and socialization. Amongst others, these are:

  • Pedagogical discourse and theory
  • History of childcare and growing up in the family and socialization
  • History of institutional education (including teacher education and history of individual school subjects)
  • History of individual pedagogical fields (vocational education and training, adult education, higher education etc.)

According to the acquisition policy, literature on general subjects is collected at a large scale. Regarding the history of individual institutions, a differentiation is made. While a broad selection is collected regarding the history of individual general education schools, only representative examples are collected for other types of institutions (kindergarten, care home, vocational schools, universities, adult education centers).

Theoretically and methodologically relevant publications are acquired also from related disciplines.

The selection criteria also apply to articles indexed individually in the library catalog.

Collection Policy: Sources

For historical reasons, the BBF presumably holds the largest collection of older pedagogical literature in Germany. Therefore, the second pillar of the acquisition policy is constituted by a retrospective acquisition of the existing holdings of sources, particularly regarding the collections of the German Teacher Library, and closure of gaps in the collection. In this regard, thematic areas that are relevant for current research on the history of education and the respective modern literature are complemented by the acquisition of original publications concerning the respective thematic areas that have in the course of time become historical sources themselves.

Collection Policy: Reference Works

Subject to a careful selection, the BBF provides a range of general reference works in its reading room. In this respect, reference works that are available online are preferred, subject to availability.


While the German language is clearly focused by the library collection, an important role can also be identified regarding English language publications. Furthermore, the library holds a limited number of items in Romanic languages and examples of literature in other languages, provided they focus on the history of education in Germany. The BBF documents international research discourses, particularly  with respect to methodologically or theoretically progressive work and current trends in research.

Type of Publication

Principally, all types of printed material are collected pursuant to the collection policy, regardless of their form. If available, the library also collects quality checked university theses and “grey literature”. Only in exceptional cases self-published works  and published bachelor theses are acquired.

Electronic publications are treated equally to printed publications. Only in exceptional cases, we acquire printed copies of publication types that are particularly likely to benefit from retrieval opportunities offered by digital provisions or publication types that will soon be outdated (e.g. bibliographical and biographical compilations, reference works).

Stock Revision

The BBF principally works as an archive library aiming at longterm availability of its physical collection and all digital resources it has produced, with the exception of the reference holdings.

Collection and Acquisition Policy of the Archive

The BBF archive is a collecting specialized archive focusing on “history of education and educational research”. The archive stores mostly non-official material comprising 1,800 running meters.

Collection Profile

The BBF archive currently stores 100 legacies left by individuals who were active in education, in educational administration and educational policy-making areas, educational scientists in universities, together with  modern-time records from 50 corporations and associations, and 40 collections with relevance for the history of education.

For historical reasons, the collection is highly heterogeneous. It reflects the processes of change the BBF underwent during its history including several changes of institutions hosting the library and archive.

The archive tectonics corresponds to the historical development and it is divided as follows:

A. Historical collection of the German Teacher Library from 1876 to 1950

B. Archive of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR for the period from 1949 to 1990

C. Items added since 1992

D. Institutional Archive of DIPF from 1951 onwards

The oldest document dates to the 16th century, while the most recent document is from 2010. The temporal focus of the documents concerns the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

Acquisition Policy

The acquisition policy corresponds to the archive’s historical task which was already formulated in the constitution of the predecessor, the German Teacher Library, in 1876. The BBF archive primarily stores written documents and images from private sources such as the papers left by important pedagogues, institutional records from associations that do not run their own archives, and collections that are relevant to the history of education. The BBF expressly refrains from limiting its collection to a particular period of time. By storing and providing unique sources,  the BBF archive contributes significantly to the documentation of the history of education and educational practice.

Based on the collection profile, the BBF archive actively acquires archival material from non-state provenances with a national relevance and thus complements the documents that are already collected by state and local archives.

Delimitation of the Acquisition Profile

In accordance with the collection policy, it is essential to assure a high quality of documents regarding their relevance for future historical research. Apart from a few exceptions, the archive exclusively holds original documents. The BBF cannot acquire collections of photocopies and materials compiled by educational scientists or lecturers from related disciplines.

Material that does not meet the collection profile of the BBF archive is offered to relevant other archives. Likewise partial fonds completing holdings of other archives will be offered these institutions.