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Basic reference works; links to general databases and websites; subject headings and call numbers for general materials


Most of the following sources cover Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other Germanic-language regions. Any search that uses "Germany" or "German" as a subject term can be used with Austria/Austrian or Switzerland/Swiss.  Combinations are also possible, such as "German American", as are headings for other German-speaking regions of the world, whether current or historical.

Note that initial articles are not searchable in the MSU Libraries catalog.  Ignore "the", "a", "an", "der", "die", "das", "ein", "eine" when these occur as the first word of the title. Within a title, however, these must be included.  When an article is used as a declarative noun, it should be searched: "That is..." or "Der ist..."

For author or subject searches on Germany in any chronological period except the second half of the 20th Century, use headings beginning "Germany" or "German". For information on Germany after World War II, use the specific headings "Germany, West" and "Germany, East".  "Germany, East" is also used to refer to the geographic region (as opposed to the political region) prior to 1949 and after unification.


Many reference sources are available in print and online formats.  The following list highlights some of the most important sources in a variety of categories and locations.  Always double-check the location and format of a given title, as these details may change. This section of the guide lists only material which MSU owns or to which we have a subscription.  Outside resources are listed separately.


Langenscheidt enzyklopädisches Wörterbuch der englischen und deutschen Sprache)  T.I: Englisch-Deutsch.  2 volumes.  Main Reference PF 3640.L2572 2007 (plus CD-ROM in Digital Media Center)  T.II. Deutsch-Englisch.  2 volumes.  Main Reference PF 3640.L25722 2007 (plus CD-ROM in Digital Media Center)   The largest and most up-to-date dictionary/encyclopedia of the German language.  Print or CD-ROM only.

Concise Oxford-Duden German dictionary.  2003 edition available on-line; type the title in the catalog.  1991 print edition: Main PF 3640.C90 1991.

Other dictionaries can be checked out from Main (4 East) ranging from call numbers beginning PF3640 to PF3656.


Many of the online resources are limited to MSU-affiliated users.  Going through the MSU Libraries catalog or webpages to use these resources will ensure that you have full access to whatever material the database contains. Additional resources can be found by selecting the the "Indexes" column on the e-resources page and then selecting "Western European studies and languages" from the drop-down menu under "Find other resources".

BDSL Online (Bibliographie der Deutschen Sprach- und LiteraturwissenschaftGerman literature and language resource, 1985-present.  Older volumes (1969-1985) are print-only (Main Z2231.E65).

ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online)  Mainly books published in English in England between 1701 and 1800; also includes books published in other languages in English-speaking areas of the world. Primary source covering mainly Europe and North America.

EEBO (Early English Books Online)  Although many of the materials in this database were published in English and primarily in Great Britain, there are numerous references to continental subjects and to books published in English in other countries.

KLG Online (Kritisches Lexikon zur Deutschsprachigen) Post-1945 listings of German, Austrian and Swiss authors, titles, critical reviews, and work-lists. [Note: this database allows only one simultaneous user.]

MLA International Bibliography.  This online publication of the Modern Language Association indexes literature, language, linguistics,folklore, from 1926 to the present. Over 3000 publications are covered. Searches can be limited by language, time period, and other characteristics.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Like ECCO, the main focus is books in English or published in English-speaking areas, but it includes many publications in other languages and/or publications pertaining to other countries and cultures. 

NEWSPAPERS, Current and Historical

Many additional newspapers can be found by selecting "Newspapers" on the e-resources page and then selecting "Western European studies and languages" from the drop-down menu under "Find other resources".

LibraryDirect PressDisplay.  Find 3,000 current newspapers from around the world in full-color, full-text display from this source, listed under "Newspapers" in the right column of the e-resources page.  [Note: 5 simultaneous users.]

(Der) Spiegel.  General German newspaper.  Current issues in Periodical Room.  Bound issues (1957-present) on 2 East (AP 30.S66); online from 1996-present.  Also microfilm 1947-1957, 2 West (AP 30.S66)

New York Times via Proquest Historical Newspapers, 1851-2008.   Coverage of world news as reported in New York Times. (Link from Newspaper e-resources, right column, for NYT coverage of world news)

Proquest Historical Newspapers: various American newspapers, various time periods, coverage of world news.(Link from Newspaper e-resources, right column)

Times Digital Archive, 1785-2006.  London-based newspaper with coverage of international topics.  (Link from Newspaper e-resources, right column)

Current newspapers from many German cities and regions can be found in the library catalog under the name of the city, or by searching the subject headings "Newspapers--Germany" (which will also include books about German newspapers)  

See also the MSU Library catalog for "Newspapers--German American", "German Americans--Newspapers" and similar headings. 


IPA Source is a database with an ever-expanding number of song texts, opera librettos and similar works. It provides the written International Phonetic Alphabet for each text, as well as translations and spoken pronunciation.  Scores and recordings of most of these poems and texts can be found in the Fine Arts--Music Library. Type IPA Source as a title in the library catalog to be connected.







FINDING BOOKS in the MSU Libraries depends on finding a call number for the range of books you need or the call number of a specific book.  Some basic call numbers are given below. A sampling of Library of Congress subject headings are also given; each book (with the frequent exception of literary works) will have at least one subject heading assigned to it. These headings follow a pattern that allows other countries or languages to be substituted as appropriate.  Note that the country or language may be used as a noun or an adjective and may not always be the first element in the heading.


Germany  (this heading is extremely broad - many subdivisions are possible and much more helpful)

Germany -- Economic conditions

Austria -- Description and travel

Germany -- History (with subdivisions by century, etc. as needed)

Switzerland -- Social life and customs

Austrian literature

Music -- Switzerland


These cover the range of call numbers for the general topic; they may not all be currently in use. For best results, narrow your topic before heading to the stacks, unless you simply like to browse.

Call numbers for material on the history and culture of Austria: DB1-DB879 (2 East)

Call numbers for material on the history and culture of Germany: DD (2 East)

Call numbers for material on the history and culture of Switzerland: DQ (2 East)

Call numbers for  history, criticism and collections of literature: PT1-PT1485:German, Swiss and Austrian authors are interfiled. (4 East)

Call numbers for literature by individual poets, authors, etc.: PT 1502-2653; German, Swiss and Austrian authors are interfiled. (4 East)

Call numbers for provincial, local, colonial poets, authors, etc.: PT3801-3971. (4 East)

Call numbers for works in Low German: PT 4801-4899. (4 East)


PERIODICALS may be in print, online, in microform. Check catalog details carefully.  Many periodicals are available in more than one format, and some are split between formats. Many also have a "moving wall", which requires that recent issues be available only in print for a period ranging from 1-5 years. Also, some periodicals have not been digitized or indexed back to their first volumes. The coverage depends on the database provider and is not controlled by the MSU Libraries.  Note that journal titles can be searched in the library catalog, but individual article titles and authors will not be found in that catalog.

A library catalog search using the subject heading "Periodicals--Germany" will lead you to a list of periodicals in German and to books and other material about German periodicals. 

Using the "e-periodicals" link on the E-resources page will connect you to journals with partial or full content that is electronically available.  Searching a journal title in the main library catalog will display all titles, both in print and online, and clarifies the status of each; therefore, it usually will result in a larger number of journals being found.


Several general databases allow extensive searching and help to find detailed information about the content of an article. Many can be limited by language, time period and other criteria. In many, but not all, cases, the full text of the article or chapter is available The indexes may or may not cover the entire run of the journal, and may or may not link to full text.  From the E-resources page, select "Indexes"; commonly used indexes are listed along the right column.  Others may be found by searching "Western languages and literature" in the drop-down menu in the center of the page; each of these uses its own subject headings to lead to articles within the range of journals and other resources it covers. Several of these specialized databases are highlighted in the "Reference" section of this guide.

The most useful general databases are: Periodicals Index Online; ProQuest; Project Muse; JSTOR. These titles are displayed in the right column of the "Indexes" page under E-resources.  ProQuest is especially flexible in the options to narrow a search.  If an indexed article is not available in full text through the database, check the MSU catalog for the journal title. If MSU does not own the journal or the issue containing the article you need, you can request it through InterLibrary Services (see the InterLibrary Services link on the library home page).  Give the full citation of the article in your ILS request.


The general databases and websites listed here are just a glimpse of the many resources that are NOT owned by MSU but to which users have full access.


Biographie-Portal ( short biographical entries for German, Swiss and Austrian individuals, both historic and current. sponsored by the Western European Studies Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries; covers all German-speaking countries. Contains many links to bibliographies, biographies, special collections, and numerous other resources.


German Studies Association ( a large website with verified information about many German topics, particularly as studied in the U.S.

German Language School Conference ( provides information and resources about private schools that teach German in the U.S. It is supported, in part, by ambassadors and other agencies of German-speaking countries and governments, to help promote the study and teaching of German language and culture.

German American Cultural Center ( The Washington, D.C. headquarters maintains a library, museum and website with many links. Search "German American Cultural Center" to link to other chapters in Chicago, Detroit, and around the US.


German Embassy: government relations, diplomatic information, practical details such as visas/passports, links to many official

Austrian Embassy: government relations, diplomatic information, practical details such as visas/passports, links to many official sites:

Switzerland official government website:


Country profile, Germany: statistics and documents relating to contemporary economic and political conditions in Germany, 1996-present.

Country profile, Austria: statistics and documents relating to contemporary economic and political conditions in Austria, 1996-present.

Country profile, Switzerland: statistics and documents relation to contemporary economic and poliltical conditions in Switzerland, 1996-present.


See the separate LIBGUIDE for information on material owned by this organization; MSU affiliates have full access online or through Interlibrary Loan Services, depending on the type of material requested.


Many fields of study will include materials in German or about Germanic countries.  For example, extensive collections of Germanic art and music are located in Fine Arts (4West), including books, scores, CDs, DVDs, and electronic resources.  The William C. Gast Business Library has numerous materials on German business practices and companies.  Special Collections has numerous historic and current comics.  Each location will be happy to assist you in finding necessary materials.

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