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Ordering & Borrowing

Ordering & Borrowing

Our library and archive holdings are indexed in different databases and the terms of ordering and loan are also distinct. You will only be allowed consult archived materials in our reading room, while parts of the library holdings are available for external loan.

Ordering and Borrowing Library Holdings

After your searching the desired items in our catalog, you can either select them directly from a freely accessible shelf or order them from the closed stacks. You will generally be granted loan for monographs with a publication year after 1950.

The entire library holdings have been indexed in our library catalog. This catalog is openly accessible on the internet, and you can search it online without prior registration. In our library, you will find personal computers for searching the catalogs.

You will find that library holdings are either available for loan, or may only be used in the library. As a rule, monographs published from 1951 onwards are available for loan. Residents from Berlin and Brandenburg can take such items home. Generally, the period of loan is four weeks and it can be extended twice if the items have not been pre-ordered by another user. You can renew the loan period yourself by accessing the user account.

You can check the catalog to find out whether or not an item is available for loan. If books from the available holdings are in poor condition, we might in individual cases only permit their use on location.

Books published until 1950 are only accessible in the library, as are journals and reference works, guidebooks and diverse special collections. You will only be able to read the respective items on site, within the BBF rooms.

Locations and Shelving of Holdings

Our library holdings have been shelved in various places within the library. The “open shelving” area (offenes Magazin) holds items that are available on loan as well as others that must remain in the library. A large part of our library holdings are stored in an area that is closed to the public. We recommend you to first search the library catalog to find out about the type of media (on loan or not, location, shelfmark). Depending on the terms of licensing, electronic or digitized resources can be freely used via the library catalog, or they are exclusively usable within the library facilities.

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of staff if you need any assistance.

Ordering From the Closed Stacks

Most of our library holdings are stored in closed stacks. You can place an order for items from our storage area on site. It will generally take about 15 minutes to retrieve a requested item from the closed stacks. Alternatively you can place an order by  – in that case, the requested literature will be waiting for you at the appointed time of your visit. We would particularly recommend this procedure if you wish to place a larger order of items from our storage area, or if you wish to order items from special collections, e.g. the annual school reports. When ordering journals, please specify shelf mark, year, volume and issue.

As a registered user, you can alternative trigger orders of requested volumes by placing a pre-order directly from the library catalog.

Pre-ordering and Reserving Titles

You can pre-order titles from the holdings that is available for loan, even if the respective items have not already been borrowed by other users. We recommend placing such a pre-order if you wish to make sure that the item is reserved for you. You can directly activate a pre-ordering function from the display of a title in the library catalog (only registered users, login necessary). You need a valid library card to log onto the catalog. To find out how you can obtain a library card, please visit the section on “Registration & First Visit".

If the titles you have pre-ordered are available, titles that have been ordered before 8:00 will generally be available at 10:00 a.m. (8:30 a.m. on a Friday), titles ordered by 1:00 p.m. at 1:30 p.m. and titles that are ordered until 4:00 p.m. are available at 4:30 p.m.

The requested titles will stay reserved for you at the information desk for 10 days.

Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services

The BBF is linked to regional, national and international interlibrary loan systems. If you need any titles locally that are not in the BBF stock, you can place a interlibrary loan order at the information desk to either request a title for inspection on site at the BBF or on loan. for interlibrary loan services within Germany, € 1.50 are charged per item requested, according to our Conditions of Use and Fees for Use and Expenditures Regulations (PDF).

On the other hand, users from other libraries can also borrow titles from the BBF via interlibrary loan. Depending on the home library, an online order of books and articles from the BBF can be placed via the portal of the Cooperative Library Network of Berlin-Brandenburg (Kooperative Bibliotheksverbund Berlin-Brandenburg, KOBV). In the case of need, please contact your local library.

We also offer a document delivery service for articles from our holdings, for which we charge a fee.

Please e-mail to or ask the staff at the information desk, if you have any respective questions.

Ordering Archival Materials

Archival materials are unique and they are irreplaceable cultural assets. Other than the books, we therefore only permit work with archived material in our reading room for special collections. You can use finding aids and the archive database for your thematic search of archived items (files, certificates, photographs and other documents).

Ordering Items From the Archive

You can place an order for archived items by or submit the order by filling in a respective order form, available at the information desk. Please make sure to fill out one order sheet per archived item, and enter the full shelfmark and stock id. What the shelfmarks look like, and how to cite from our stock, is documented in the guidelines “Zitierweise der Archivalien“.

The archive database indexes many of our archived items, and you will thus find the shelfmarks online. On site, we provide further finding aids and other resources for researching our archive stock not in the database. We are happy to assist you in searching for materials relevant for your topic of interest and help you find sources and use our finding aids.

For organizational reasons but also preservation purposes, we will generally hand out only up to ten archived items per user. The inspection of archived items might be refused if this deems necessary according to the stipulations of the Archive Law of Hesse and the BBF Archive Terms of Use.

Please place your order well ahead of your visit respectively bear in mind that the delivery of archived items to our special collection reading room might take up to three working days.

Working With Archived Materials

Archived items are highly delicate and they require air conditioned environments. Therefore, they can only be viewed in our reading room and you cannot take them home. The duration of remaining in the reading room should be kept as short as possible. Please let us know if you cannot keep a scheduled appointment or no longer need an ordered item.

You will find foamed cushions, small weights for balancing pages and stacking aids which will support you in carefully handling the archived materials. While working with the material, please take care not to sully it, write on it or mechanically damage it. Only pencils are allowed as writing utensils.

It is not allowed to copy or scan archived material. You will generally be able to order a reproduction. If you wish to take a photograph, you need a special permission from the archive and are not permitted to use a flashlight. For detailed information on reproduction services, please consult the paragraph on “Copying & Scanning”.

Other Collections on the History of Education in Berlin

For your research on the history of school and education, particularly regarding the regions of Berlin and early Prussia, we also recommend

Explantions of Archival Terms

In archival contexts, many terms are used which in many cases require explanations. The Archive School at Marburg has collated a helpful German glossary of archival terms.

last modified Jun 06, 2017