Library profile and holdings

Library profile and holdings


The Institute library is Europe’s largest library specialising in foreign and international private law and is recognised worldwide for its scope and services. It has a collection of specialist literature from more than 200 countries around the world – in many languages and scripts.

The library holds a comprehensive collection of works on private international law, international commercial law, and foreign civil law in numerous languages and from around the world. The collection also includes a wealth of general reference works, bibliographies and linguistic resources, and works in related fields, particularly international law, public law, legal methodology, legal history, economics and the social sciences.

The library has a particular focus on acquiring literature from countries that are not easily accessible, such that these can be gathered and made available at one location. On the whole, the library acquires inventory in a forward-looking way so as to provide our researchers the best possible access to relevant works.

The Institute’s own researchers are not the only ones who benefit from the library’s singular collection: each year, some 1,000 guests from more than 50 countries come to Hamburg to conduct research in our library.


The library of the Max Planck Institute has a collection of more than 500,000 volumes. Each year, we add some 10,000 new acquisitions. The library subscribes to roughly 2,000 journals.

The collection is organised by country, geographic region, and subject area, and is housed on two floors of library stacks. Reference materials with particular relevance to the Institute’s work are kept in two reading rooms. These include general encyclopaedias, atlases, selected journals, statutes, case digests, legal handbooks, commentaries, Institute publications and bibliographies.

Because the library functions as a central research and reference institution, all of our books are non-circulating and cannot be checked out. The library does not take part in any national or international inter-library loan programmes.

Images: © Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

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