The days are getting colder here in Berlin, so what better way to pass the time than to lose yourself in a good book? Libraries across the city offer an amazing service! In this blog, we will explain exactly how you can make use of a library card and everything they have to offer. There’s something for everyone, even us English speakers.
How many libraries are there in Berlin?
According to the VÖBB (the group for public libraries across Berlin), there are over 80 in the city alone! They can essentially be split into two groups: the Staatsbibliothek (Berlin State Library, known affectionately as the Stabi), situated on Unter den Linden and Potsdamer Platz, and those that are part of the VÖBB, including the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (Berlin Central and Regional Library, abbreviated in German as the ZLB).
Where can I find books written in English?
One example of somewhere with a selection of English language books is the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek, located near Hallesches Tor. Founded in the 1950s with the help of American funds (hence the name!), here you can find a range of fiction books, as well as some non-fiction.
The two Staatsbibliotheken locations also offer titles from well-known authors. You can also look at the online catalogues for these libraries, as sometimes books can be stored off-site and ordered upon request.
English books can also be found at other public libraries, but this can vary based on area – you can simply go and take a look if you fancy.
How much does a library membership cost, and what do I have to do?
So you’ve picked a library, and you want to become a member! But what’s the next step?
The answer here is that it depends! Membership with the Staatsbibliothek is totally free and required to take books out from their buildings or to make use of other library services (such as wifi). You can register for a 30-day period online, or a year at a time by attending in person. They require an original version of an ID document and the filled-out registration form, which you can find here. Non-EU citizens also need to show their valid visa or residence permit, as well as passport.
For the VÖBB, which includes access to the ZLB as well as nearly 80 other locations across the city, a small fee of 10€ is charged on an annual basis. However, you can register for a membership online here, or in person at any of their library locations. Just bring your ID card, or passport for Non-EU citizens, and a registration certificate.
For both these library groups, you must be over 16 to get a membership. So if you want to sign your little ones up for this too, you’ll have to go along with them in person and give your parental consent.
What else can I do with a membership, besides loan out books?
If you followed the steps above, you should now have a membership – congratulations! Now you can enjoy the many services and benefits that come with it! Most libraries in Berlin offer free internet connection and use of computers as part of their membership. Some branches also host events and meetings – for example, for schools and Kitas, or other community groups. To find your nearest library and more specific info, simply search on Google and select a location near you.
A library card is definitely a valuable thing to have here in Berlin. We wish you much success with the process!
To discover more about life here in Berlin, join our newsletter for free. Here, you can view blog posts, videos and other content for English speakers in Germany.