The Library of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) was established in 1925 as a political legacy of Germany’s first democratically elected head of state. It is thereby also the oldest of Germany’s foundations aligned with political parties. Its library, specializing in the history and presence of the labor movement, is one of the biggest of its kind.
With its one million media items, the Bonn-based library meets two key missions.
It safeguards the “printed memory” of the labor movement – making the protocols, reports, statutes, programmatic documents, newspapers and brochures of German political parties and trade unions from their beginnings to the present day available to research. These historical collections are augmented by others devoted to ancillary organizations, such as the workers’ athletic movement or workers’ welfare groups.
Among classical libraries, in the past such publications were considered unworthy of being collected. Even today this “gray literature” – unavailable to the retail market and often difficult to access – is not included in most acquisition profiles. For the library of the FES they remain a collection focus . The library continues to systematically collect the publications of German parties and labor unions and make them available both in printed and digital form. It also takes publications from the leftist spectrum from Western European countries as well as the documents of international associations of parties and unions (Socialist International, International Trade Union Confederation). Scholarly secondary literature on the German labor movement and German social history is acquired as completely as possible as a supplement to the collection focus.
The library also acts as a service provider for the coworkers of the FES. Moe than 600 employees work at the foundation’s Berlin and Bonn headquarters, state and regional offices, two educational facilities, the Karl Marx House in Trier and 100 offices worldwide. All FES fellowship and scholarship winners also have the possibility to use the library’s services.
Many users at various locations and with the most diverse interests have to be accommodated, therefore: supplying literature through acquisition, interlibrary lending, periodical reading and circulation, providing copies and digitizing. Another service keeps interested coworkers informed of the latest content from some 120 periodical titles. Requested articles can then be ordered. This service is used avidly, especially by our coworkers in foreign countries. Thematically, our acquisition profile here mainly covers political theory, economic and social policy and development cooperation.
For in-house publications the library maintains the database of available titles and issues the annual FES Bibliography. The library’s function as an FES repository is accorded special status. Just as the library includes all printed FES publications, it also hosts, archives and makes available all the foundation’s e-publications.
The library is open to the public. Its collections can be used in the reading room or through interlibrary loan.