Subject Holdings

The Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum contains philosophical literature which used to belong to the former Philosophy Branch Library and the former Central University Library. Here you can find books and periodicals from all philosophical disciplines present at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Theoretical and Practical Philosophy; Ethics, Logics, and Anthropology; German Idealism and History of Philosophy - mainly Antiquity and the Middle Ages - as well as Theory of Science. Additionally, the library acquires critical editions, reference books, and base literature.

In order to offer well-balanced holdings, the library purchases base literature from orther subdisciplines as well as Psychology (the main holdings of this subject can be found in the Science Branch Library at the Erwin-Schrödinger-Zentrum).

The University Library offers substantial holdings of philosophical literature, which is spread across several locations in the building:

  • Textbook Collection (EG): Here, one can find multiple copies of important introductory books and textbooks. These books are usually for issue for students and staff belonging to Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

  • Magazine Rack (1. OG, Area B): Current and unbound periodicals are displayed there. Philosophical periodicals can be recognized by the call number beginning with CA. These periodicals are generally not available for issue.

  • Bound Journal Volumes (2. OG, Area B): Journal volumes published in preceding years, both those currently running and discontinued, are stored in this area. The call numbers start with CA as well. These journals are not for issue either.

  • RVK Holdings of Philosophy (3. OG, Area A/B): These constantly growing holdings are marked according to the Regensburg Library Classification Scheme (RVK) and consist of monographs, compilations, and bibliographies. The respective call numbers range from CB to CI. A comprehensive view of the purport of the individual signatures can be found on the website of the RVK. These holdings are the central location for current philosophical literature. Provided the books are not labelled differently, they can be borrowed.

  • Group call numbers (5. OG, Area C): A rather large amount of older philosophical literature can be found within the so called group call numbers: monographies published until the 1960s are marked with “Phil.”, journals and serials, partially even those published even later than the 1960s, marked with “Phil. P.”. These groups are not yet entirely recorded in Primus. It is therefore recommended to consider a search in the older alphabetical catalogue (1908-1974). This catalogue can be consulted online via the scanned catalogue or as a microfiche at the inquiry desk in the EG (also consult on-site catalogues). Please keep in mind that these holdings are divided into different formats, according to their size. The respective format specification is listed following the numbers (e.g. Phil. 2535:F8). This specification is critical for finding the book on the shelf. The holdings displayed in open access shelves are divided into three sizes (F8: octave, F4: quart, F2: folio). These books are principally not for issue.

  • Numerus Currens Holdings (7. OG): There is a relatively large amount of philosophical literature, which was purchased when the library did not offer any open access shelving. This literature was only marked with a Numerus Currens (running number) and can still be found this way today. The signatures consist of the year, a letter between A and D, and a running number (e.g. 2003 A 3285), they thus do not offer any information about the disciplinary orientation. As a consequence, these books can only be properly researched via catalogues. In the medium term, they will also be remarked according to the RVK classification. Newer holdings (from 1978 onwards) are usually available for issue.

  • Stacks: A section of the holdings are stored in closed stacks, which are only accessible for staff and some of which are stored off-site. This literature can be ordered via the Primus search database to the Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum and can be picked off there either at the pick-off shelves in the EG next to the general inquiry desk, or in the Research Reading Room (depending on whether the books are for issue, valuable etc). The allocation time can differ depending on the respective stacks.


Some of the above locations will change with time, yet a distribution across several sites will remain. For many subjects of philosophical research, we recommend a look at neighbouring disciplines, such as Sociology, History, Classical Philology, History of Science, Cultural Sciences, and others. There you can find literature relevant to philosophical questions as well. It is also possible for certain books which are currently on loan from the philosophy shelves to also be available in other subjects-1’ shelves. The large holdings therefore offer significantly more options and are best used in its entire variety.