The Most Fascinating Libraries of the World 04 – Heidelberg University Library

I visited a friend’s blog one day and I was literary blown over by a picture of one of the most fascinating libraries around – Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. It also gave me an idea of a series of posts about the best, the most beautiful, the strangest and the biggest libraries there are. The libraries that can make you drool, where you would be able to spend an indefinite period of time without noticing, where you would like to live and die till the end of the world (if they only served coffee and cake that is). Perhaps you can’t visit them all but what is the Internet for? I’ll try to illustrate my posts as well as it is only possible, providing, I hope, a nice tour for every visitor around. Enjoy!

Heidelberg University Library

Germany´s oldest university library is considered to be one of the best scientific libraries of Germany. She dates back to the 14th century, to the year of the foundation of the Heidelberg University in 1386. The latest university ranking gave her rank two just behind the state library of Goettingen. With more than 1.6 million book lendings and about two million visitors per year the Heidelberg University is even top of the ranking.

The man responsible for   the library’s first major extension was Elector Ottheinrich, an avid bibliophile – and the extension itself lasted from1556 to 1559. He donated his Castle library to the university and with this laid the foundation-stone of the Bibliotheca Palatina, which was supplemented by the extensive library of Ulrich Fugger. The Biblioteca Palatina quickly attained world fame as “scholarly Germany´s most precious treasure” and became the most important library north of the Alps.

Nowadays the Heidelberg University Library comprises of 6.02 million volumes. It possesses a collection of 6 600 manuscripts of the 9th to 17th century, going back to the foundation year of the Heidelberg University in 1386. The highlight among the manuscripts is the Codex Manesse, the “big Heidelberg song manuscript”, which originates between the years 1300 and 1340 and is the most voluminous collection of Middle High German poetry, the work of 140 poets. Page-size miniatures are devoted to 137 medieval bards.

Yes, they’ve digitalized some of those nice Egyptian papyri as well! In full colour!


Enhanced by Zemanta
This entry was posted in libraries of the world. Bookmark the permalink.