According to the Conventions of UNESCO’s Declaration on Archives, the central tasks of archives are on the one hand to conserve cultural heritage and to open and convey it to the public and on the other hand, to act as a pillar of constitutional democracy by documenting administrative action and by providing archived information to citizens, for administration purposes and for research. Germany`s archive landscape is very varied. The Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv) is a self-reliant higher federal authority, which has the statutory obligation (Federal Archive Act – original version from January 1988, revised version in march 2017) to save the archive material as well as to utilise it scientifically. The retention period is generally 30 years (§ 11 para. 1.) If the archival material concerns natural persons, the term of protection ends at the earliest ten years after death, possibly also 100 years after birth or 60 years after the documents were created (§ 11 para. 2).
The archives divide themselves in: 1. Federal Archives; 2. Local Archives; 3. Ecclesiastical Archives; 4. Archives of families, noble families and houses; 5. Archives of business; 6. Archives of parliaments, political parties and associations; 7. Media Archives and 8. University Archives, archives of scientific institutions and other stakeholders.
Reliable data only are available for the first group: Federal Archives including the Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv), the Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office, the National Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz) (indirectly) and the Archive of the federal commissioner for Stasi-documents of former GDR (Archiv des Bundesbeauftragtenfür die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienes der ehemaligen DDR). In 2016, a total of 339 thousand metres of written material was stored in the nine locations of the Federal Archives, as well as 12.6 million pictures, almost 2 million maps, plans and technical drawings and over 150 thousand film titles. A total of 5,900 visitors were counted on 37,000 user days in 2016. The state archives of the federal states archive material amounting to 1.4 million linear metres at 58 locations.
A total of 5,900 visitors were counted on 37,000 user days in 2016. The state archives of the federal states archive material amounting to 1.4 million metres held in 58 locations.
Libraries guarantee the fulfilment of the constitutionally guaranteed basic right of all citizens “to inform themselves unhindered from generally accessible sources” (Basic Law, Article 5, Para. 1.) The most frequent subdivision of libraries is made into public libraries and academic libraries. Both are open to the public, whereby the academic libraries focus on the needs of academics and students.
The German library statistics showed 7,240 public libraries in 2018. If the branches are also added, the number increases to 8,652 public libraries. Of the 7,240 public libraries, 27.0% are under full-time management and 73.0% are run on a part-time or honorary basis. In terms of ownership, 48.1% are public funded (all regional authorities), 40.9% by the Catholic Church, 8.9% by the Protestant Church and 0.7% by other ownership. In 2018, public libraries had a media stock of 113 million, 89 million of which were in public libraries under full-time management and 24 million under voluntary management. 94 million media were held by public libraries. Public libraries had a total of 120 million visits and 340 million borrowings in 2018. In 2018 there were 238 academic libraries, including 5 national or central specialist libraries, 25 regional libraries, 79 university libraries and 129 polytechnic libraries. Of these, 74 million physical loans were made.
Comparing the data from 2018 with those from 2013, it is obvious that the number of public libraries has fallen by 8.0% over the past 5 years, the number of visits has fallen by as much as 20% and the number of loans from public libraries has decreased by 10%. The number of academic libraries also decreased during this period: by 4.4%.
 See ibid.