In 1980, the German Department's 5th St. Louis Symposium on German Literature focused on the topic of contemporary German literature since 1965. In the course of the preparation of the conference, it became obvious that contemporary German literature was poorly represented at North American university and college libraries.
To remedy this situation, the German Department contacted such leading German publishers as Suhrkamp-Insel, Rowohlt, S. Fischer, and R. Piper and inquired whether they would be willing to send the department each year's literary publications free of charge. In return, the department would inform the profession of the collection of contemporary German literature at Washington University and make the books available through Interlibrary Loan. Subsequently, we invited all literary publishers in the German-speaking countries to contribute to the collection by sending us free of charge their latest publications of contemporary German literature.
Every year Olin Library catalogs the new publications, incorporating them into the general collection. One of the important aspects of this cooperative work is the commented annual bibliography (Editor: Maryska Suda, M.A.), which is published online, ensuring that a wide audience can familiarize itself with the newest publication.