Specialised Information Service for the Study of Religion

In 2016, due to a change in the funding programme of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft = DFG), the Special Subject Collection (SSG) “General and Comparative Religious Studie” was replaced by the Specialised Information Service (Fachinformationsdienst = FID) for the Study of Religion.

General objectives of the FID programme in brief

  • Providing fast and direct access to special literature and research-relevant information which cannot be provided to the same extent and density at every university
  • Supplementing local information structures with services for peak demand, e.g. setting up and maintaining convenient discovery systems
  • Focussing on the research interests and needs of the discipline / scholars of the study of religion

See also: Informationen zum Förderprogramm "Fachinformationsdienste für die Wissenschaft" of the German Research foundation (DFG)

Staff at Tübingen University Library:

  • Mareike Heinritz – subject specialist (project manager)
  • Nikolas Magin – academic staff
  • N.N. – library staff (cataloguing of articles)
  • 3 student assistants for the FID projects as well as 2 research assistants for subject indexing
  • 1 position in the IT department
  • workshare of staff of the department “Fachinformationsdienste” and other departments of Tübingen University Library

Acquisition of literature on the study of religion :: Monographs

The FID acquires monographs and collected editions from Germany and abroad according to a profile agreed with the specialist community. The profile primarily comprises literature on:

  • theory, methodology, history and comparison of religions
  • religions in the international and global context, especially New Religious Movements
    Please note: Literature on individual non-Christian religions is collected by the FID for the respective regional studies, e.g. FID “Near and Middle East, Islamic Studies”, FID “Asia”, FID “Jewish Studies”, and is therefore acquired by the FID Study of Religion only in exceptional cases.
  • spiritual movements of any kind: anti-, non-religions; atheism and criticism of religion (“Religionskritik”).

Pro-active and patron-driven acquisition (PDA)

In addition to the pro-active acquisition by the subject specialist, there are two components of a user-controlled acquisition:

  • By a PDA component included in RelBib, users can trigger the purchase of titles that are indexed but so far not accessible anywhere in Germany.
  • In addition, there is the possibility of proposing titles of any format of interest to the study of religion, which are not (yet) indexed in RelBib and therefore cannot be ordered via the PDA function mentioned above – via the feedback or "Suggest a title" buttons.

With these three strategic acquisition components, the FID Study of Religion hopes to meet the demand for a comprehensive supply of literature in the field of the study of religion.

Acquisition of literature on the study of religion :: Journals

A definition of what exactly a “journal of the study of religion” is, or the provision of a list of journals relevant to the study of religion proves to be extremely difficult. The answer may vary between individual scholars depending on their specialisation.

As of 2024 the FID Study of Religion has subscriptions and licences for over 250 journals from the Study of Religion and related subject areas, some of which are also included in interdisciplinary ‘packages’. Many of the journals have already been held at the library as part of the former SSG programme. Some journals are owned exclusively by Tübingen University Library in Germany.

Considering the varying specialisation possible in the field of the study of religion, it becomes clear that there are important journals which may belong to neighbouring subjects, such as journals on individual religions, journals of the social, cultural and regional sciences, history and many other subjects even up to medicine and natural sciences.

Bearing this in mind, it becomes clear that in addition to a well-founded acquisition profile, the indexing of relevant (journal) literature in the field of the study of religion plays an important, if not the most important, role.

RelBib – Bibliography of the Study of Religion and more

The focus of the FID Study of Religion lies on the creation, continuation and improvement of RelBib. This comprehensive bibliography of literature relevant to the study of religion was released on 24 July 2017 in an alpha version and has been relaunched in June 2019 in the current portal environment, in which all information and services relevant to the subject community are united in one interface.

Extended indexing of articles relevant to the study of religion

Subproject “Articles in collected editions”

With the beginning of the second project phase 2019-2021, the FID Study of Religion has started to identify the numerous articles that are hidden in collections of essays (i.e.: anthologies, Festschrift, conference volumes, etc.) and is indexing them in RelBib. The better retrieval of such contributions is an urgent desideratum by the subject community.

Subproject “Retrospective cataloguing”

Another request from scholars of the study of religion pertains to the indexing of older articles from core journals. Some 40 journals are being catalogued retrospectively with the help of semi-automatic methods and, as far as possible, indexed with subject headings.

Supporting Open Access

The FID Study of Religion plans to improve the online accessibility of literature and research data. The following services are offered:

Self-archiving service

RelBib Open Journals

Information on research data management


With the help of cooperations, the FID Study of Religion seeks to improve its services. In the context of a continuous expansion of the RelBib database, cooperation with editorial teams of journals is sought for, as well as cooperations with institutions.

Cooperative cataloguing with editorial teams

Project: Indexing of the REMID archive

Cooperation with other FID

On an informal level we cooperate with the FID Asia and the FID Middle East, North Africa and Islamic Studies.

The study of religion was established as an independent discipline in the 19th century. Before this, relevant questions had been dealt with within the framework of systematic theology and missionary studies on the one hand, and in ethnology and literary studies, especially Oriental studies, on the other hand.

In Tübingen, the Indologist and Orientalist Rudolf von Roth (1821–1895) regularly held lectures on the history of religion. He also was director of the university library and thus ensured the development of a collection of fundamental works on non-Christian religions, with a focus on the religions of Asia.

Today, the study of religion is of increased importance due to religious pluralisation and other social developments. In its Empfehlungen zur Weiterentwicklung von Theologien und religionsbezogenen Wissenschaften an deutschen Hochschulen (Recommendations for the Further Development of Theologies and Religion-Related Sciences at German Universities) (Drs. 9678-10, Berlin, 29 January 2010), the Council of Science and Humanities explains: “Die Besonderheit der Religionswissenschaft liegt weniger in ihrer Methodik oder in der Exklusivität ihres Gegenstandes ‘Religion’ als vielmehr in ihrem systematischen Anspruch sowie in ihrer komparativen Perspektive, mit der sie empirisch und theoretisch-systematisch religiöse Phänomene innerhalb und außerhalb moderner westlicher Gesellschaften erforscht.” (The peculiarity of the study of religion lies less in its methodology or in the exclusivity of its subject ‘religion’ than rather in its systematic claim as well as in its comparative perspective, with which it empirically and theoretically-systematically researches religious phenomena within and outside of modern Western societies). (ibid. p. 87)

The special subject collection (SSG) “General and Comparative Religious Studies” has been managed by the Tübingen University Library since 1981. Previous to that, the special subject collection had been maintained by the Marburg University Library and there is still a collection focus on the study of religion.

It is not possible to quantify the older holdings of literature in the study of religion, since in earlier times it was recorded statistically under the subject of theology or oriental studies.

Since the subject has been maintained as a separate SSG at the Tübingen University Library, the holdings of literature on the study of religion has grown from about 250 volumes at the beginning (1981) to about 600 volumes annually. It should be noted here that titles that deal with one or more of the Asian and Oriental religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc.) were collected in their respective regional special collections and are not included in the figures of the SSG “General and Comparative Religious Studies”. This means that the holdings relevant to the study of religion are probably many times higher.