In accordance with the mandate of the Max Planck Institute, the library collects
- literature on German, foreign, and international criminal law and procedure
- literature on criminology and related disciplines (psychiatry, sociology, psychology, and the social sciences generally)
- fundamental works in international law
- publications on (criminal) information law and legal informatics, as well as
- literature on medical law.
Currently, the library contains over 400,000 volumes and grows annually by over 10,000 volumes. Approximately one-third of these new acquisitions are criminological publications. The library subscribes to some 1,500 - mostly foreign - journals and periodicals. Since 1993, all new acquisitions have been added to the catalog of the Südwestdeutscher Bibliotheksverbund and at the same time have been absorbed into the Institute's own data pool. The library inventory can be researched via the Internet at the OPAC.
The library is designed as a reference library that is available primarily to Institute staff as well as domestic and foreign guests. In addition, persons unaffiliated with the Institute, especially participants in comparative law seminars, can use the library after they have obtained permission following a written request. In 2008, this group of day-guests comprised approximately 900 persons.
For Institute guests, there are 40 work places in two reading rooms, half of which are equipped with computer and Internet connections. For day-guests, nine work places with laptop connections are available.
The library inventory is housed in open stacks and can be checked out for use at the work place in a self-service procedure. Loans outside of the Institute are not possible. Only in exceptional circumstances are books lent out via interlibrary loan.