Historical collections of the legal library
Besides a more recent collection, the Federal Administrative Court Library owns a comprehensive part of the libraries of the former Imperial Court of Justice, the Prussian Higher Administrative Court, the Supreme Court of the GDR and the People's Chamber of the GDR. Its legal library contains one of the most important historical collections: the oldest book is a 12th-century edition of Decretum Gratiani, while the oldest manuscript is a fragment of a bible commentary from the Carolingian period (9th century).
Library of the Imperial Court of Justice
The library of the Imperial Court of Justice – Germany's largest legal library in its day – was included in the Supreme Court of the GDR library during the GDR period. It was shared between the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe and the Federal Administrative Court after reunification. The Federal Administrative Court owns around 74,500 volumes from the former Imperial Court of Justice library. Mainly they include works on constitutional, state, administrative and canon law from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
Library of the Prussian Higher Administrative Court
Founded 1875, the Prussian Higher Administrative Court already had a library when it opened. Comprising around 25,000 volumes, the library was housed in its first modern facility with four-storey book stacks and two reading rooms when the new court building on Hardenbergstrasse in Berlin was inaugurated in 1907. The library grew between 1933 and 1941 by acquiring collections when government agencies were disbanded or consolidated. The Prussian Higher Administrative Court was incorporated into the newly created Reich Administrative Court on 1 May 1941. By the end of the War, the former library of the Prussian Higher Administrative Court had grown to approximately 52,000 volumes, most of them with only negligible damage.
The inventory of the Prussian Higher Administrative Court library was used as the foundation to build the library of the Federal Administrative Court. Today, only around 36,000 volumes remain in the inventory, as most of the non-legal volumes and duplicate copies were passed on over time. The remaining collection extends back to the 16th century, including significant works from the 17th and 18th centuries (for instance the Corpus iuris canonici 1670; Acta pacis Westphalicae publica 1734–1743; Corpus iuris Fridericianum 1749). Of particular interest are also the extensive collections of official publications from the former Prussian provinces, and parliament materials, for instance from the Reichstag, the Reichstag of the North German Confederation and the Federal Assembly (after 1817).
Library of the Supreme Court of the GDR
The library of the Supreme Court of the GDR was dedicated to the collection of contemporary works. They were mainly publications released in the GDR and in the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as works from countries in Eastern Europe. Dissertations published in the GDR were another of the library's focuses. Over the years the importance of the Supreme Court library subsided. Toward the end, the available annual budget for new acquisitions was just 77,000 Marks. The library was shared between the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe and the Federal Administrative Court after reunification. Among other sections, Leipzig received the works belonging to the categories St (Political Sciences in the GDR) and Diss (Dissertations in the GDR).
Library of the People's Chamber of the GDR
The library of the People's Chamber of the GDR was founded in 1950 and placed in the charge of the People's Chamber secretariat. By 1976 it had grown to 86,000 volumes, so a significant proportion was passed on for reasons of space when the Chamber moved to the new Palace of the Republic. The western literature was 'secreted', which meant it could only be accessed with special approval. The inventory of approximately 9,000 volumes was initially transferred to the German Bundestag after reunification. It was then passed on to the Federal Administrative Court library in 2002. Today it encompasses a broad spectrum of largely non-legal literature with a focus on parliamentary, political and legal systems, as well as history, politics and economics. For instance it contains the draft constitution of 4 April 1990, prepared by the work group 'New Constitution for the GDR' in the Central Round Table of the GDR.