The Federal Constitutional Court’s library was founded in 1951 when the Federal Constitutional Court was established. It is an academic in-house library (i.e. it is not open to the public) which specialises in public law, constitutional and administrative law, general theory of state and of society, as well as in politics and contemporary history.
Presently, the library holdings consist of almost 400,000 volumes; they are increased by approximately 5,000 volumes every year. The library currently holds subscriptions to about 800 periodicals; approximately 450 of them are legal and social-sciences journals from Germany and abroad, the others are parliamentary papers and the official publications of the Federal Government and the German Laender (states).
The focus of the library holdings is on public law, and in particular on domestic and foreign constitutional law. Beyond that, the library acquires books that cover a broad range of subjects, which enables the Court to consider the relevant facts of a case under non-juridical aspects as well.
Another part of the library, also since 1951, is the press archive “for collecting all material concerning the Court” (cf. § 18 of the Federal Constitutional Court’s Rules of Procedure). A daily press digest is produced on the basis of 30 to 40 newspapers and magazines.
The Bibliotheksservice-Zentrum Baden-Württemberg, a service provider for libraries, archives and museums in the Southwest German Library Network (Südwestdeutscher Bibliotheksverbund – SWB) maintains a union catalogue which lists all publications in the library. These titles may be found in the local electronic user catalogue. This applies to all books, and also to all essays that have been catalogued since August 1996. This means that presently approximately 640,000 titles (about 330,000 of which are essays) may be accessed via the catalogue of the Federal Constitutional Court's library, making it one of the largest juridical online catalogues in the German-speaking area.
Two online catalogues have been made available to the general public: The Katalog der Bibliothek des Bundesverfassungsgerichts (Catalogue of the Federal Constitutional Court’s Library) and the Gemeinsamer Katalog des Bundesgerichtshofs und des Bundesverfassungsgerichts (Joint Catalogue of the Federal Court of Justice and of the Federal Constitutional Court).