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The library at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is actively collecting published descriptions of the world's languages to be able to serve as a research library for both language specialists of less described languages and for comparative linguistic studies.

In addition to the acquisition of newly published works we are actively acquiring out-of-print books when deemed important for our goals. We also try to obtain copies of relevant "grey literature" (disserations, working papers, unpublished manuscripts) from universities all over the world. Currently, our worldwide collection of grammars, dictionaries and other descriptive works on less described languages amount to about 10,000 volumes.

In the library catalogue, all descriptive works relating to a particular language are tagged with an ISO 639-3 code (i.e. Ethnologue, 15th edition) to allow easy access and discovery of relevant literature. We also collect links to electronically available versions of literature on less described languages.