German National Library of Medicine

German National Library of Medicine (ZB MED)
Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Medizin

The German National Library of Medicine, Cologne
Country Germany
Type National library, Medical library, Research library
Scope medicine, health, nutrition, environment, agriculture
Established 1973
Location Cologne and Bonn
Coordinates 50°55′28″N 6°54′59″E / 50.924567°N 6.916296°E / 50.924567; 6.916296 (landmark)Coordinates: 50°55′28″N 6°54′59″E / 50.924567°N 6.916296°E / 50.924567; 6.916296 (landmark)
Items collected books, journals, electronic media
Size 1,500,000 books[1]
9,000 journal subscriptions[2]
25 million documents[2]
Legal deposit Yes, for publications in the Federal Republic of Germany
Other information
Budget €5.7 million (acquisitions)
Director Ulrich Korwitz
Staff 123[1]

The German National Library of Medicine (German: Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Medizin), abbreviated ZB MED, is the national library of the Federal Republic of Germany for medicine, health sciences, nutrition, agriculture and the environment. It has two locations: Cologne and Bonn. The library is jointly financed by the Federal Ministry of Health and the 16 States of Germany. It is operated under the auspices of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The medical library was initially formed 1973 through the mergers of several much older institutions. Between 2001 and 2003 it was further expanded to include nutritional, environmental and agricultural sciences. As a result, today ZB MED is the world's largest specialist library in its five subjects[3] and the largest medical library in Europe.[4]


The roots of the ZB MED can be traced to two predecessor institutions important to the heritage of the Rhineland, one founded in 1847 in Bonn and another in 1908 in Cologne.[5]


The Academy of Practical Medicine (German: Akademie für praktische Medizin) established a hospital library in 1908 and it became a department of the University and City Library of Cologne (German: Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln) in 1920. The library survived World War II intact and in 1949 the German Research Foundation (DFG) granted it nationwide responsibility for collecting medical literature in West Germany. It also began collecting English language publications through financial support from the DFG. By 1963 the library held 250,000 books and subscribed to 1,100 journal titles.[5]

In 1964, the German Science Council recommended that an independent National Library of Medicine be formed out of the University and City Library's medical department. Formally established in 1973, it was given a mandate to acquire relevant material in all medical subjects and languages. In 1994 the library's name was changed to the “Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Medizin” and in 1999 moved to a new building on the campus of the Hospital of the University of Cologne.[5]


In 1847 the Royal Agricultural Academy (German: Königlich Landwirthschaftliche Akademie) was founded in Bonn-Poppelsdorf and it became a full degree-granting university in 1919. In 1934 the Agricultural University was incorporated into the University of Bonn and the library became a department of the main university library. By 1950 it was the largest agricultural library in West Germany.[5][6] In 1962 the library was renamed the National Library of Agricultural Science (German: Zentralbibliothek der Landbauwissenschaft) and given nationwide responsibility for agriculture by the German Research Foundation DFG. It became the German center for the Agricultural Libraries Network (AGLINET) in 1971 and moved into a new building in 1983. In 1987 the building was subject to an arson attack requiring extensive remodeling, although none of its 300,000 items were lost.[5]

One institution

In 1999 the German Science Council recommended Bonn University's agricultural library be merged with the ZB MED. The subject areas of nutrition and the environment were incorporated in 2001 followed by agriculture in 2003. Since then ZB MED operates as ZB MED Medicine. Health. at the site in Cologne and ZB MED Nutrition. Environment. Agriculture. at the site in Bonn.[5]


The book collection primarily consists of German and English-language volumes, while journals are acquired in all languages and from all countries. The library is a particular specialist in the acquisition of "gray literature", difficult to obtain and not available via the standard book or journal trade.[7] As of 2011, it holds:

The library's physical collection spans over 38 km of bookshelves.[2]

Users are primarily students, doctors, scientists and industry clients, although the library is open to general public. There is no charge for using the library buildings or borrowing books.[8] The library also provides access to its collections via its own online portals for searching, full-text reading and ordering hard copies. Access to full text journal articles is also available through the Electronic Journals Library (EZB) [9] Since December 2010 all the catalog data of ZB MED is freely licensed under CC0.[10]

Open access publishing

ZB MED operates or participates in several large open access initiatives.

Search portals

As a member of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community, ZB MED is charged with providing infrastructure facilities for science and research funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It operates two Web portals which function as virtual specialist libraries: MEDPILOT (for medicine) and GREENPILOT (for nutrition, environment and agriculture). In 2009, GREENPILOT was given an award as a “Landmark in the Land of Ideas” by the President of Germany.[14][15]


ZB MED partners with a variety of national and international libraries, institutions and associations.

Goportis library network

It works directly with the German National Library of Economics (ZBW) and German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) on developing and operating online search services, licensing agreements, document preservation efforts and data storage.[16]

International partnerships

It is also the official European supplier for full-text articles through the PubMed bibliographic database operated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) – the world's largest medical library.[17] It is also partnered with the Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (AII/CAAS), including a reciprocal agreement on mutual assistance in case of catastrophic events.[18]

Other affiliations

ZB MED has over 30 additional cooperative arrangements, including:

See also


  1. 1 2 German National Library of Medicine retrieved 21-May-2012
  2. 1 2 3 ZBMED Channel, retrieved 23-May-2012
  3. DataCite retrieved 23-May-2012
  4. Theime Publishing Group license with ZB MED online retrieved 23-May-2012
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 History of the ZB MED retrieved 23-May-2012
  6. University of Bonn Faculty of Agriculture (German) retrieved 23-May-2012
  7. Miriam A. Drake (ed.): Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, First Update Supplement CRC Press; 2nd edition (June 2, 2005) ISBN 978-0849338946
  8. ZB MED Information for Visitors retrieved 23-May-2012
  9. Electronic Journals Library (EZB) ZB MED holdings online, retrieved 23-May-2012
  10. Heike Grelka: Die ZB MED unterstützt mir der Freigabe ihrer Katalogdaten eine stärkere Integration der Bibliotheken ins Web (Informationsdienst Wissenschaft, 2010) idw-online (German) retrieved 23-May-2012
  11. ElliNET – The ZB MED’s Document and Publication Service retrieved 23-May-2012
  12. Ulrich Korwitz: German Medical Science open access publication system (Berlin: Humboldt-Universität, 2007) Online retrieved 23-May-2012
  13. Adrian Pohl: ZB MED Publishes Open Article Data in Medicine and Life Sciences Open Knowledge Foundation, 06-Sept-2011 Online retrieved 23-May-2012
  14. Dagmar Giersberg: Rhineland Giant – The German National Library of Medicine (Bonn: Goethe Institute, 2010) Online retrieved 23-May-2012
  15. Bettina Kullmer: Ausgezeichnet: GREENPILOT wird "Ausgewählter Ort im Land der Ideen". (Informationsdienst Wissenschaft, 15.05.2009) idw-online (German) retrieved 23-May-2012
  16. German National Library of Science and Technology - Goportis retrieved 28-May-2012
  17. German National Library of Medicine Partnerships (in English) retrieved 23-May-2012
  18. AII/CAAS and ZBMED Fields of Co-Operation retrieved 23-May-2012.
  19. DIMDI’s National and International Cooperation Partners retrieved 23-May-2012
  20. Interdisciplinary Network of Infrastructure Facilities (IVI) at the Leibniz Association retrieved 25-may-2012.
  21. WHO Documentation Centers retrieved 23-May-2012
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