German Language Blog

German Library Vocabulary Posted by on Oct 13, 2021 in Culture, Language, Literature, Vocabulary

Guten Tag! Today’s post is all about German library vocabulary. Did you know that Transparent Language Online is available in many libraries all around the world? Perhaps you’re reading this post from a library right now! In this post we’ll look at German vocabulary related to libraries, and I’ll tell you a little about one of Germany’s most prominent libraries. Let’s get started!

The library: die Bibliothek… or is it die Bücherei?

In German, you’ll come across two words for library: die Bibliothek and die Bücherei. These are used interchangeably, though Bibliothek is more commonly used to refer to a larger library – for example, a research library (die Forschungsbibliothek), or a university library (die Universitätsbibliothek), which ordinary members of the public would need a pass (der Pass) to get into.

Bücherei, on the other hand, normally refers to a smaller, community library that anyone can borrow books from. It is also sometimes called die öffentliche Bibliothek in German – the public library.

In Germany, a town or city’s main library will usually have the word ‘Stadt’ (town/city) at the front of its name. Examples include Stadtbücherei Frankfurt and Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart.


The inside of Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart. Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Inside the library

Here is a selection of vocabulary for things you will see in a library:

Librarian – der Bibliothekar (m), die Bibliothekarin (f)

Book – das Buch

Bookshelf – das Bücherregal

Reading place – der Leseplatz

Workspace – der Arbeitsplatz

Computer – der Computer

Audio book – das Hörbuch

Kids’ library – die Kinderbibliothek

Printer – der Drucker

Scanner – der Scanner

Photocopier – das Fotokopiegerät


Inside Stift Admont Bibliothek, Austria. Photo by Andreas ***** on Unsplash

Looking for a book on a particular subject? Here are some categories in German:

Literatur & Fiktion – Literature & Fiction

Roman – Novel/Romance

Krimi & Thriller – Crime & thrillers

Persönliche Weiterbildung – Personal development/self-help

Kunst – Art

Fotographie – Photography

Geschichte – History

Politik – Politics

Gesundheit – Health

Wissenschaft – Science

Religion – Religion

Philosophie – Philosophy

Gartenarbeit – Gardening


Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash

If you were to browse for a book online or take one out, the following vocabulary would come in handy:

Library card – die Bibliothekskarte/der Bibliotheksausweis

Library catalogue – der Bibliothekskatalog

My account – Mein Konto

Password – das Passwort

To borrow – ausleihen

To return – zurückgeben

To extend – verlängern

Loan period – die Leihfrist

Fine – die Geldbuße


Was willst du heute lesen? What do you want to read today? Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, or DNB for short) is arguably Germany’s most important library. Located in both Frankfurt and Leipzig, this is where all German and German-language publications get collected and archived, and have been since 1913. All visitors to the DNB must have an account and a valid library card. People may also use the library’s Lesesäle (Reading Rooms) to work in by applying for the date they want to visit.

Fun fact: There are approx. 36.1 million Bücher in the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek!


Archive shelves in a library in Dresden. Photo by C M on Unsplash

Head to Libraries – Foreign Language Learning and Instructional Tools for Libraries if you’re interested in learning more about Transparent Language’s work with libraries.

Bis bald (see you soon)!


PS. If you liked this post, you might like this one, too: German School & Childcare Names

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Joseph T Madawela:

    Sehr interessant. Danke