The BBF, Research Library for the History of Education has experienced a varied history that can be traced back to the establishment of the German School Museum in 1876. One of the most comprehensive special libraries emerged, which later became known as the “German Teacher Library" and "Central Pedagogical Library”, which today is a research library for the history of education in German-speaking countries.

From the Foundation of the German School Museum to the End of the Weimar Republic (1876–1932)

In 1876, the District Council of Teachers in Berlin opened the “German School Museum”, in particular to familiarize elementary school teachers (Volksschullehrer) with the latest teaching materials and provide them with works written by significant pedagogues, journals and other relevant literature. Therefore, a large teacher library was offered by the museum which in the following years was expanded not only by adding books but also manuscripts, medals and engravings. Adolf Rebhuhn (1854–1924),  school teacher and head of the library from 1879 until his death, was particularly energetic and successful in his efforts to expand the collection.

For reasons of limited space and due to a lack of funding, the institute restricted its operation to running the library after 1908. The collection of teaching aids was given away and the school museum was renamed “German Teacher Library”. The library was relocated to the premises of the Berlin Teachers’ Association which had been opened at Alexanderplatz in the same year. Here, the working conditions improved considerably: Across two floors, a reading room with catalogs, an exhibition room, offices for the staff and closed stacks were provided.

The German Teacher Library During the Third Reich (1933–1945)

In 1933, the German Teachers’ Association was subjected to enforced conformity with the National Socialist Teachers’ Association which took charge of the large teacher libraries in Munich, Berlin and Leipzig. The house of Teachers' Association’s in Berlin suffered severe damage from an air raid on November 22, 1943, but the German Teacher Library largely remained unscathed. Until the end of World War II, the holdings had expanded to approximately 240,000 volumes. Losses were mainly due to the relocation of holdings to Schloss Bensen (now the Czech Republic). Only 1341 of the formerly more than 8000 manuscripts were returned and the collection of coins as well as a large number of pictures are presumed lost.

From the German Teacher Library to the Central Pedagogical Library of the GDR (1945–1991)

In 1948, the German Teacher Library was reopened and three years later, it became an external branch to the newly founded Central Pedagogical Library, owing to a cultural order by the GDR issued on March 16, 1950. The library belonged to the Ministry of Education and its management followed ministerial orders. Officially the old name of the German Teacher Library remained but it was increasingly lost in subsequent years.

In September 1964, the Central Pedagogical Library and the Teacher Library were united under one roof, in the “House of Teachers“ in Berlin-Alexanderplatz at nearly the very spot where the German Teachers' Association had held its premises. Several external stacks continued to exist where particularly historic holdings were kept and under sometimes precarious conditions.

In the GDR, the library continued to serve its purpose of training teachers. Besides, it supported research activities of the German Central Pedagogical Institute DPZI, which was connected to the Ministry of Education. In 1970, the DPZI became the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR (APW), which now acted as the responsible body of the Central Pedagogical Library. The complete pedagogical works published in the GDR were collected, together with non-pedagogical literature from all areas of knowledge for teacher training. Extensive exchange relationships were maintained thereby ensuring the acquisition of international literature, particularly from the Soviet Union and other Socialist countries.

New Beginning as Research Library for the History of Education After the German Reunification

The APW was dissolved after the GDR ceased to exist, and the library faced another turning point: since 1992, it is part of the DIPF, Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, and it has since been working as the Research Library for the History of Education, with a changed profile and a new scope of tasks. In 1994, it was possible to unite the whole collection at its present location in Warschauer Straße.