The Library's excellent collection of materials in historic and comparative German linguistics, one of the strongest in the U.S., is based on the library of the Rostock philologist and folklorist Reinhold Bechstein (1833-1894) that was acquired by Penn in 1896. There is a 1,600 volume Frisian collection and a relatively strong collection of scholarship on German dialects and old Scandinavian. A core collection of Yiddish books was donated in the 1990s through the National Yiddish Book Center. Special Collections houses a collection of some 900 books published during the Nazi era.
The collections in German literature are strong general collections, adequate to support graduate study and much faculty research.
The focus has always been on works by and about canonical authors, although the emergence of cultural studies and a new interest in women and minority authors have brought a significant expansion to the scope of the collection (e.g., the acquisition of a rare run of the Weimar women's journal Die Dame).
In recent years the Library's collections in support of the study of German literature, history and culture has expanded to includes significant numbers of Hörbücher (especially of author's reading their own works) and German films, of which, as of 2008, there