Since its foundation in 1955, the Leo Baeck Institute London has been the foremost academic institution in the UK conducting and supporting research on the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry from the 17th century to the present day. Today, the Institute is located on the campus of Queen Mary University of London where it plays a key role in the research and teaching of German-Jewish history and culture at the School of History.
The Institute’s specialist Library is an invaluable resource for the study of German-Jewish history and culture. The collection consists of over 4,500 books, 30 metres of journals and 2400 pamphlets. It is a multilingual collection, with works written in German, Hebrew, Italian and English. Many of the items are from the early 20th century and are not held by any other library in the UK. Started by the LBI’s first director, the writer and journalist Robert Weltsch, numerous fascinating and many rare items have since been added to this Library by subsequent members, scholars and supporters of the LBI. The collection was deposited by the Institute at Queen Mary University of London Library (Mile End campus) in 2017, where it is now fully integrated into the QMUL Library search engine (Library Search) and also available to students and researchers upon request on site in the Reading Room.
Examples for the diverse range of the collection include historical items such as a Mahzor (book of liturgical prayers) for the feasts of Sukot, Pesach and Shavu’ot, dating from 1784, or one of the very few existing complete sets of the famous Bücherei des Schocken Verlags, 1933-1939 (Library of the Schocken Verlag) book series, donated to the LBI London by yet another of its former directors, the scholar Dr Arnold Paucker.
The LBI London Library also comprises a unique collection of rare historical pamphlets, equally assembled by Robert Weltsch in the first half of the 20th century: the LBI London Pamphlet Collection. It holds visually beautiful documents such as an exquisite red linen gift edition of a collection of prints from the famous cycle ‘Scenes from Traditional Jewish Family Life’ by the 19th century painter Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, as well as a variety of early Zionist materials such as Zemach’s alluringly illustrated Das Jüdische Dorf and very rare items including an epitaph for Else Lasker-Schüler written by a member of the small German-speaking intellectual community in Mandate Palestine in 1945.
The LBI London’s own academic publications, the LBI Year Book (Oxford University Press), the Schriftenreihe wissenschaftlicher Abhandlungen des Leo Baeck Instituts (Mohr Siebeck Verlag) and the German Jewish Cultures book series (Indiana University Press) can also be accessed at the Institute’s Library.
Everyone is welcome to use the Leo Baeck Institute London Library. The books can be found on Library Search. A catalogue of the pamphlets can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org while the online format is finalised. Due to the unique and special nature of the Leo Baeck Institute London Library, it is reference only and can be viewed in the Archives Reading Room. If there is something you would like to see, please email the Archives and Special Collections team on email@example.com to book an appointment. We are open Monday-Friday, 9.30am-4.30pm.