Where do you search?

Go to our website: Göttingen State and University Library

You are now on the homepage of the library. By clicking on ‘English’ you can switch to the English version of our website, which is, unfortunately, not as exhaustive as the German version.

Click on the search field and select a catalogue.

suche im GUK

The first catalogue on the list, the Göttingen University Catalogue, includes the holdings of the Göttingen State and University Library and departmental libraries of the University of Göttingen. As a rule, book or journal articles are not listed.

The second option is the GBV Union Catalogue (GVK). It lists the holdings of libraries in seven German federal states as well as of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. As a rule, all titles listed can be ordered via inter-library loan within Germany. The GBV Union Catalogue (GVK) can also display non-Latin scripts. This currently mainly includes Chinese and Korean but increasingly Mongolian Cyrillic and Uiguro-Mongolian scripts as well.

The search field on our homepage is set for search in the Göttingen University Catalogue by default if not chosen otherwise. You can use this search field to type in keywords in German, for example, ‘Mongolen’ ‘Musik’ to retrieve results on the music of the Mongols.

How to look for books with the search keys ‘Language’ or ‘Land of publication’ in the Göttingen University Catalogue

It tends to be the easiest way to use the quick-search box on the homepage of the Göttingen State and University Library. If you use the search field in the Göttingen University Catalogue, please make sure that the search key is set on ‘[ALL] all words’ or the appropriate search category.

Suche im GUK

Another useful search strategy is advanced search. To access it, go to: SUB homepage - English – Göttingen University Catalogue –English (top left corner) - Advanced Search.

erweiterte suche im GUK

This advanced search offers the opportunity to search for certain forms of media like maps, online periodicals, audio or video resources (DVDs, audio language courses, ethnic music etc.). You can also choose the language or country of origin but you have to type in some search words in the top slots. If you are looking for language courses, for example, you can type in the keyword ‘Sprachkurs’ in combination with the language.

1. Search for media with a specified language

You can look for media in a specific language by using the keyword ‘spr’ (only possible in the German version of the Göttingen University Catalogue, as it is the shortcut for Sprache, German for language) and the language code. If you use the English version of the search page, please use ‘lng’, short for language, instead of ‘spr’.

The language codes are listed here. Select the code of the language you are looking for. Now go back to the first step, i. e. the library homepage. Type in ‘spr’ and the language code in the quick-search box. This way, search for ‘spr mnc’, for example, will retrieve all books in the Manchurian and Sibo languages.

’spr mon’ will retrieve all titles in Mongolian, ‘spr bua’ - all titles in Buryat, ‘spr xal’ - in Kalmyk etc.

Suche im GUK

Note: For some languages there are no specific language codes, for example, for Oirat, for which either the language code for Kalmuck (spr xal) or Mongolian (spr mon) is used. The same problem occurs with Oirotic or Altai-Turkic, in which case the general language code for Altaic (spr tut) is used. Older books often happen to have no language code assigned to them. Certain mix-ups may also occur. For instance, ‘spr kr’ will retrieve books in Karelian and in Korean, while if you use ‘kal’ instead of ‘xal’ for Kalmuck you will end up with the Inuit language of Greenland.

2. Search for media from a certain country

The search key for country is ‘lan’ followed by the country code. E. g.: All media from mainland China: ‘lan XB-CN’.

You can find the list for all country codes here.

3. Combination of search keys

Search keys can be combined using ‘and’ between them. Additional operators are ‘or’ and ‘not’.
For example, to search for books written in the Mongolian language and published in China type in the following combination: ‘spr mon and lan XB-CN’, or ‘spr mon and lan XB-MN’ if you are looking for books in Mongolian published in the Republic of Mongolia.

Please note that keywords, language codes and other codes have not been assigned to older books. A systematic search will always retrieve only a certain selection of titles. You should also use other search strategies (explanations will follow below).

Search in the GBV Union Catalogue (GVK)

Chinese, Korean, Mongolian original scripts are increasingly used for cataloguing. Currently, you cannot view original scripts using the Göttingen University Catalogue. Click on the search field on the homepage of our library and select the second option GBV Union Catalogue (GVK). The GVK will also show the holdings of other libraries in Northern Germany and it can display Chinese and other foreign scripts. Please note that some problems may occur with the Uiguro-Mongolian script.

suche im GVK

The search methods, language, and country codes are the same as those used in the Göttingen University Catalogue.

Using search keys for ‘Language’ and ‘Topic’

Nearly all the media from the 1990s onward have been classified using the Göttingen Online Classification. Please proceed to the Göttingen University Catalogue and click on Systematic Search since 1994 (SUB) in the left bar.

Systematische Suche 

Under the category Philologien (German for Philologies) you will find Ural-Altaische Philology, which includes Altaic languages that, in their turn, include Mongolian languages. If you then select a certain language like Khalka Mongolian, for instance, you can further narrow down your search by the number that follows the Göttingen Online Classification language code JTM.

Göttinger Online-Klassifikation

The following codes are used in the Göttingen Online Classification:

  • 636 stands for novels
  • 632 stands for poetry etc.
  • Numbers beginning with 4xx are assigned to books that contain works by more than one author.
  • 5XX stands for research on literature
  • 3XX stands for grammar and linguistics, dictionaries etc.
  • Dictionaries are always categorised under 300
  • QML 200, QML 250, QML 300 and QML 400 stands for Chinese ethnology
  • CBM … stands for Chinese religions

More search keys for an efficient search

As for older media, these codes were not always assigned. Hence, it may be necessary to search by the place of publication, using the code ‘plc’ or ‘pub’. For example, ‘Urumchi’ or ‘Urumqi’ etc. will result in: ‘plc urumchi or urumqi or Ürümči or Wulumuqi or Wu lu mu qi’.


There may be many ways to spell the name of one place. Syllables in Chinese names are now separated by blanks, but they used to be written as one word until a few years ago. You can combine the search by the place of publication with the language-based search, e. g. ‘(plc Qäšqär or Ka-shi or Ka shi) and spr uig’ , when looking for Uighur literature from Kashgar. You can also use a combination of keywords ‘sww’ and language ‘spr’, e. g. ‘sww Schulbuch and spr uig’ for schoolbooks in the Uighur language.


Note: Please keep in mind that in case of multiple search words combined by ‘or’, if followed by a further search key(s) added with ‘and’, the first combination has to be put in brackets (as in the example above).
You can also limit your search by looking for literature published before or after a certain date. Use the code ‘erj’ and the symbols ‘<‘ or ‘>’ followed by a date. Thus, ‘(plc Seoul or Soul) and erj <2000’ will find about 20.000 books published in Seoul before the year 2000.

kombinierte Suche

If you search for a specific book, it could be a good idea to use an internet search engine to gain the ISBN or ISSN. This number can be copied and pasted into the search field of the Göttingen University Catalogue (search key: [NUM] any number) or the SUB website. This way, you can avoid possible problems with changing transcription systems.

Suchschlüssel NUM

How to find old shelf marks of the Institute for East Asian Studies?

Originally, the Institute for East Asian Studies (Ostasiatisches Seminar) had a large collection of Chinese novels and other East Asian Literature. These books have largely disappeared into the vaults of the main library without any possibility of systematic search via Göttingen Online Classification. You can, however, search for original shelf marks of the Institute. The old shelf marks of the Institute are much more precise than the Göttingen Online Classification:

  1. Go to the Göttingen University Catalogue
  2. Switch to English
  3. Change the search key to ‘(SGN) Shelfmark (string trunc.)’.
  4. Then insert the old shelf mark of the institute into the search field below (see the list further down). All old shelf marks have to have the heading ‘Sgb 7 051’ followed by the original shelf mark. The question mark at the end is often necessary, since there is usually more than one title in one category.

Signaturen Ostasiatisches Seminar

Important details:

  • Therefore, old shelf marks for Chinese literature start with 114.
  • You can type ‘Sgb 7 051 114.?’ in the search slot for most books in that literature category.
  • You can also conduct a more specific search: ‘Sgb 7 051 114.10.1?’, for example, to find all novels published in Mainland China.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 114.11.1?’ will retrieve all Chinese prose from Taiwan.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 114.11.2?’ for all poetry from Taiwan.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 114.10.2’ for poetry from Mainland China.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 116?’  for Chinese history.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 116.1.?’ for older literature.
  • ‘Sgb 7 051 116.2.?’ is for Qin and Han Dynasties etc.

In these examples, ‘114…’ stands for literature in the Chinese language and ‘116’ for history in the Chinese language. ‘214…’ and ‘216…’ are the corresponding categories for books in Western languages on Chinese literature and history. This system applies to the other categories as well.

Change of transcription systems for some languages

Do keep in mind that transcription systems for languages were changed every one or two decades. The Wade-Giles system had been used for Chinese until about 1990. Later, Pinyin has been used. However, Pinyin comes in three variations: the original one with two or more syllables written together as one word, the second variation in which the syllable within one word separated with a hyphen (‘minus’), or the recent one where there are only blanks between syllables. In the United States, syllables are also separated by blanks but personal or geographical names are written in one word. The German system differs. Further complications arise, since modern librarians, including some of ours, use the modern form of Pinyin when cataloguing Chinese books published before 1990. Thus, you will have to search older titles trying different transcription systems. 
The McCune Reischauer transcription system has been in use for many decades for the Korean language. Now, a transliteration system is about to be introduced (Korea 1959) in combination with the original Korean script. The transliteration system transcribes the original Korean letters one by one regardless of their actual pronunciation. For example, no distinction is made between k and g, as there is only one letter for both of them in the original script. The McCune Reischauer system adds grammatical particles with a blank to the word they apply to. That is different from Americans who separate grammatical particles with a blank. ‘Hangug-ǔi’ (‘of Korea’) becomes ‘Hanguk ǔi’ in the US and will become Han-gug-eui in our catalogue for most recent publications (from 2011).
The new transliteration system “Korea 1959” is used for all books published in 2011 or later.