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Legal Deposit Copies of Hamburg publications

As Hamburg's regional library, the present-day State Library has always collected all literature published in the city.

Since 1696, an ordinance (later, a law) has made it mandatory for Hamburg publishers and printers to provide the library with one copy of each of their publications as so-called legal deposit copies. Although the majority of the holdings of Hamburg legal deposit copies were destroyed by fire in July 1943 after the library was bombed, many of these could be replaced after the World War.

In accordance with the 1988 Hamburg law governing the provision of legal deposit copies, sound carriers must also be provided (not just printed works), and since the amendment of 8 September 2009, digital publications as well. Official publications – such as those of the Hamburg Parliament, all authorities and other public institutions – are currently collected in paper and electronic form pursuant to an ordinance from 2008.

Books published in Hamburg

The library makes this literature available for use and archives it permanently. Printed works within the meaning of the law governing legal deposit copies include all texts, topographic maps, local maps, atlases, recorded works and sound carriers that are produced in order to be published and distributed. It also includes pictorial works, if they are associated with an explanatory text. Digital publications within the meaning of the law include all written, picture and sound representations that are presented in public networks on storage media or in non-physical form.
As legal deposit copies, all types of literature are collected, both the products of publishers and so-called “grey literature” distributed outside the retail book market. The collection includes the following, among other things:

  • academic literature from publishing houses, universities, research institutions, authorities, museums, scientific and academic societies, and individuals as independent publishers
  • all types of press publications: daily and weekly newspapers, professional journals and general-interest magazines, illustrated magazines, programme guides, local newspapers, advertising journals and district newspapers
  • fiction, paperback novels, comics, children's literature, guidebooks, travel guides, museum catalogues, topographical maps and city maps
  • publications by Hamburg clubs, associations, parties, societies, commercial enterprises, interest groups and individuals
  • official publications.

The State Library's legal deposit collection thereby reflects a central aspect of Hamburg's cultural creations and many facets of the cultural, political and economic life of the city.


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