ZBW history

The ZBW was established on 1 February 1919 as a department of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, whose official name at the time was the “Royal Institute for Maritime Transport and World Economy”. It was the intention of the institute’s founder Bernhard Harms that the library should collect material on economic geography, trade policy, colonial economics and transport policy and make them available to researchers. In 1924, it already held 70,000 volumes.

The library was able to keep its entire collections during the NS regime and to acquire foreign literature. The books were removed from Kiel during the Second World War and housed in Ratzeburg Cathedral. The ZBW thus suffered almost no losses and holds a near-complete stock of economics literature.

In 1966, the library was designated as German National Library of Economics by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Since 1980, the ZBW has been a member of the consortium “Blaue Liste”, the predecessor of the Leibniz Association.

On 1 January 2007, the library of the The Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA) was amlgamated with the ZBW. At the same time the ZBW gained its independence from the Kiel Institute and transformed into a foundation under public law. Since then, the ZBW bears the designation “Leibniz Information Centre for Economics”.