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History of the Mathematics Library

1945 - 1982

After the end of the war in 1945, the libraries of the Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg were largely destroyed. From 1946 onwards, Prof. Dr. Ernst Mohr used the remaining holdings of the mathematics chairs and their funds to build up the library of the Mathematics Department of what is now the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). By the end of the 1950s, the library's holdings comprised around 5,000 volumes.

At the beginning of the 1960s, the Mathematische Fachbibliothek (MFB, in English Mathematics Library), which was now the official name, moved into three rooms one above the other on the upper floors of the newly furnished eastern head house of the main building of the TU Berlin. Again and again new rooms had to be found for the growing collection. Prof. Dr. Erich Kähler promoted this growth by acquiring an extensive collection of valuable original prints of mathematical classics [1] from the 18th and 19th centuries (Euler, Lagrange, Gauss etc.). Prof. Dr. Kurt Leichtweiß had numerous old journal volumes reprinted in 1963 in order to offer the most important mathematical periodicals. By the time he left the library in 1970, its stock had grown up to 17,000 volumes.

In the 1970s, the holdings of the former departmental libraries were incorporated into the library's catalogue.

1982 - 1999

In 1982, the Mathematics Library moved into its current, over 1,000m2 big rooms in the new building of the Institute of Mathematics. Georg Kohlmaier and Barnabas von Sartory, the architects of the building, were also responsible for furnishing the reading room of the Mathematics Library. In their design of the tables and individual workplace lighting, they followed the model of the classical scientific library and, in combination with the high room and large windows, created a very pleasant working atmosphere.

With the move from the main building to the new mathematics building, the honorary head of the library, Prof. Dr. Detlef Krüger, introduced a new classification system, the Mathematics Subject Classification [2] (MSC). The library holdings are still arranged today according to the MSC. Previously, the books received a call number according to the cardinal points (e.g. W 3.2 or O 5.4).

Between 1992 and 2010, on the initiative of librarians Bärbel Erler and Dr. Iris Hahnemann, the Institute used the library as a gallery [3] in order to make the Technische Universität and the Institute of Mathematics better known to the outside world.

2000 - 2016

Computer-aided library management was introduced relatively late into the Mathematics Library: in 2000. This was preceded by a lengthy search for suitable library software. It was then decided to also use the "ALEPH 500" library system used by the university library. The Mathematics Library took over the pilot function in the ALEPH implementation for the other independent libraries of the TU Berlin. At the same time, ideas were discussed on how to deal with retro-cataloguing, i.e. the transfer of the card catalogue to the online catalogue. Here the decision was also made to join the university library and its project. The Mathematics Library benefited from the fact that, with a few exceptions, its entire holdings had been reported to the relevant institute catalogue in previous years, so that all data were available, even though some parts only in a garbled form.

With the introduction of the electronic, integrated library system, the Mathematics Library aimed at the physical integration of the numerous reference libraries from the working groups, which had already assumed a considerable volume and could not be managed in a sufficiently orderly manner. Of the 13 reference libraries at that time, only two are still in existence at the institute today.

Since 2011 the Mathematics Library offers a reception with a cultural program at the beginning of each semester. In addition, since 2015 the “Lange Nacht des Lernens” (“Long Night of Studying”) has been held annually on the premises of the Mathematics Library.

2016 -

At the end of 2016, the cloud-based library system Alma was introduced as Aleph's successor in the library system of the TU Berlin and the Mathematics Library supported the implementation for the other independent libraries of the TU Berlin.

The current stock of printed media (monographs, journals) amounts to approximately 70,000 volumes (as of 2017). But the spreading of electronic media is also reflected in the stock of the Mathematics Library. Besides the many electronically available journal subscriptions, the two bibliographic databases "Zentralblatt MATH" and "MathSciNet" as well as e-books of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) are licensed for the IP range of the TU Berlin.


Meanwhile the bookshelves are very full and further storage space in the basement of the building was occupied. Not only the number of media, but also the number of patrons is increasing steadily, although many textbooks and reference books are now also available digitally as e-books. The library is more attractive than ever as a place of learning because there are hardly any other non-commercial places in the city where one can find quiet and concentration and the necessary literature at user-friendly opening hours.

A replacement building for the TU Berlin's mathematics building, which is now over 35 years old, is currently being planned and built not far away. The new mathematics building on Fasanenstraße at the corner of Müller-Breslau-Straße will house the office areas for the members of the Institute of Mathematics, large lecture halls and central teaching areas with student workstations and a cafeteria, as well as the Mathematics Library. A new mathematical location is being created. The mathematicians are expected to move there together with "their" library at the end of 2022.

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