1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern World - Germany, Austria, Switzerland

(Part 5)


Germany is emphatically the home of large libraries; her want of political unity and consequent multiplicity of capitals have had the effect of giving her a considerable number of large state libraries, and the number of her universities has tended to multiply considerable collections.

Berlin is well supplied with libraries, seventy-two being registered by Petrxholdt in 1875, with about 1,293,030 printed volumes. The largest of them is the Royal Library, which was founded by the "Great Elector" Frederick William, and opened as a public library in a wing of the electoral palace in 1661. From 1699 the library became entitled to a copy of every book published within the royal territories, and it has received many valuable accessions by purchase and otherwise. It is now estimated to contain upwards of 700,000 printed volumes and over 15,000 MSS. The amount yearly expended upon binding and the acquisition of books, &c., is 4800 pounds. The cataloques are in manuscript, and include a general alphabeticall author-catalogue, and a systematic subject-catalogue in a handy form. The building erected about 1780 by Frederick the Great, has long been too small, and a new one is in contemplation. The conditions as to the use of the collections are, as in most German libraries, very liberal. Any adult person is allowed to have books in the reading-room. Books are lent out to all higher officials, including those holding educational offices in the university, &c., and by guarantee to almost any one recommended by persons of standing; admission to the journal room is more strictly limited. By special leave of the librarian, books and MSS. may be sent to a scholar at a distance, or if especially valuable, may be deposited in some public library where he can conveniently use them. There appears to be no limit to the number of books which may be borrowed, although it is prescribed that not more than "three works" must be asked for on one day. Professor Lepsius reports the issues for last years as 71,400 works, to above 5000 readers. The University Library (1831) number 200,000 volumes with 353 MSS. The number of volumes lent out in 1880 was 40,101. The library possesses the right to receive a copy of every work published in the province of Brandenburg. Some of the governmental libraries are important, especially those of the Military Academy and the General Staff, which was increased in 1872 by acquiring the library of the "Ecole d’Application" at Metz. In 1850 some popular libraries were established by a society for giving scientific lectures. There are now thirteen such libraries with over 54,000 volumes, but the yearly number of readers is only about 12,000.

The libraries of Munich, though not so numerous as those of Berlin, include two of great importance. The Royal Library, the largest collection of books in Germany, was founded by Duke Albrecht V. of Bavaria (1550-79), who made numerous purchases from Italy, and incorporated the libraries of the Nuremberg physician and historian Schedel, of Widmannstadt, and of J.J. Fugger. The number of printed volumes is estimated at about one million, although it is long since any exact enumeration has been made. The library is especially rich in incunabula,k many of them being derived from the libraries of the monasteries closed in 1803. The Oriental MSS. are numerous and valuable, and include the library of Martin Haug. The amount annually spent upon the library is 5400 pounds, of which 2050 pounds is expended upon books and binding. The catalogues of the printed books are in manuscript, and include (1) a general alphabetical catalogue (2) an alphabetical repertorium of each of the 195 subdivisions of the library, (3) biographical and other subject catalogues. A printed catalogue of the MSS. in 8 volumes is nearly complete; the first was published in 1858. The library is open only twenty-nine hours during the week, while the Royal Library at Berlin is, except in the three winter months, open for thirty-nine. The library of the British Museum is now open for sixty-six hours per week, but it lends no books out. The regulations for the use of the library are very similar to those of the Royal Library at Berlin. The building erected for this collection under King Louis I. in 1832-43 is regarded as a model library structure. The archives are bestowed on the ground floor, and the two upper floors are devoted to the library, which occupies seventy-seven apartments.- The University Library was originally founded at Ingolstadt in 1472, and removed with the university to Munich in 1826. It participated in 1803 in the division of the literary treasurers of the disestablished monasteries. At present the number of volumes in the general library amounts to 290,000 besides which several special collections are also deposited in the library to the number of 32,800 volumes. The MSS. number 1744. The various libraries of Munich have upwards of 1,400,000 volumes.

Dr. Petzholdt has registered no less than 49 libraries in Dresden, where indeed his inquiries were likely to be particularly exhaustive. The Royal Public Library in the Japanese Palace was founded in the 16th century. Among its numerous acquisitions have been the library of Count-Bunau in 1764, and the manuscripts of Ebert. Special attention is devoted to history and literature. The library does not claim to possess more than 350,000 volumes, although Petzholdt in 1875 reckoned them as at least 500,000 printed books, as well as 400,000dissertations. The MSS. number 6500 volume. Admission to the reading-room is granted to any respectable adult on giving his name, and books are lend out to persons qualified by their position or by a suitable guarantee. Here, as at other large libraries in Germany, works of belles-letters are only supplied for a literary purpose. The number of persons using the reading-room in a year is about 3800, and about 10,000 works(not volumes)a re lent to about 500 readers. – The "Prinzliche Secundo Geniture" Library, now in the possession of Prince George of Saxony, and of which Dr Petzholdt, the Nestor of bibliographers, is librarian, is a private library to which access is permitted.

The Royal Public Library of Stuttgart, although only established in 1765, has grown so rapidly that it now possesses about 425,000 "numbers" of printed works and 3800 MSS. There is a famous collection of Bibles, containing 7200 volumes. The annual expenditure is about 2640 pounds, of which 1250 pounds is devoted to books and binding. The library also enjoys the copy-privilege in Wurtemberg. "The borrowing of books for home use is open to all members of the German empire resident in Stuttgart, whose personal and economic circumstances offer the necessary guarantees for the safety of the national property. The library may, moreover, be used from any part of Wurtemberg on payment of the cost of carriage." The annual number of borrowers is over 1800, who use nearly 17,000 volumes. The number issued in the reading-room is at least twice as great. The number of parcels dispatched from Stuttgart is nearly 900- Admission is also gladly granted to the Royal Private Library, founded in 1810, which contains about 50,000 volumes and 600 MSS. The other libraries of Stuttgart, of which Petzholdt reckons 11, are not of importance. – The Grand-ducal Library of Darmstadt was established by the grand-duke Louis I. in 1817, on the basis of the still older library formed in the 17th century. The number of volumes used in the course of the year is about 30,000, of which 9000 are lent out to about 5000 readers. - The Ducal Library of Gotha was established by Duke Ernest the Piuos in the 17th century, and contains many valuable books and MSS from monastic collections. It numbers about 240,000 works, with upwards of 6000 MSS. The catalogue, now in course of publication, of the Oriental MSS., chiefly collected by Seetzen, and forming one-half of the collection, is one of the best in existence. Other great Ducal Libraries are noticed in the tables.

Libraries of varying extend and importance are attached to all the twenty- one universities of Germany, most of them being coeval with the universities themselves. Thus the oldest library is that of Heidelberg, which in its earlier form dates from 1386. In 1608 it had become so important that Joseph Scaliger wrote of it "Locupletior est et meliorum librorum quam Vaticana." In 1623 the library was carried to Rome as a present to the pope, but some of the treasures were ultimately restored. The later collection was first formed in 1703. The collection of MSS. is extremely valuable. – The library of Leipsic university dates from 1409, although it was not until the middle of the 16th century that it was properly organized. – The library of Gottingen owes much to the labor of the illustrious Heyne. It ranks as one of the most complete and best arranged of the German libraries. New building for its accommodation are in course of erection. – The library at Strasburg, although founded only in 1871 to replace that which had been destroyed in the siege, already ranks amongst the largest libraries of the empire. Its books and MSS. together amount to 513,000. The remaining university libraries are noticed in the tables.

Some of the town libraries of Germany mentioned in the table s were amongst the earliest established after the revival of learning. The oldest of them is perhaps that of Ratisbon, which was founded at least as early as 1430. since Ratisbon has ceased to be an imperial city it has had to part with many of its treasures to the library at Munich.

The whole number of libraries in the German empire enumerated by Dr Petzhold is 1547, distributed amongst 584 towns.

A report issued in 1873-74 by the Austrian Statistical Commission, furnishes an account of the condition of the libraries in those portions of Austria which are represented in the Reischsrath, as they were at the end of the year 1870. The number of libraries registered was 577, of which 23, however, were private libraries. Of the rest 159 belonged to religious corporations and seminaries, 105 were military libraries, 56 belonged to literary and scientific societies, 189 were of an educational and scholastic, and the remaining 45 of a public character.

The largest library in Austria, and one of the most important collections in Europe, is the Imperial Public Library at Vienna, apparently founded by emperor Frederick III. in 1440 although its illustrious librarian Lambecius, in the well-known inscription over the entrance to the library which summarizes its history, attributes this honor to Frederick’s son Maximilian. However this may be, the munificence of succeeding emperors greatly added to the wealth of the collection, including a not inconsiderable portion of the dispersed library of Corvinus. Since 1808 the library has also been entitled to the copy privileges in respect of all books published in the empire. The sum devoted to the purchase of books is 26,250 florins annually . The main library apartment is one of the most splendid halls in Europe. Admission to the reading-room is free to everybody, and books are also lent out under stricter limitations. – The University Library of Vienna was established by Maria Theresa. The reading-room is open to all comers, and the library is open much longer than is the rule with university libraries generally. In winter, for instance, it is open from 5 to 8 in the evening, and it is even open from 9 to 123 on Sundays. In 1879, 159,768 volumes were used in the library, 16,300 volumes lent out in Vienna, and 4418volumes sent carriage free to borrowers outside Vienna. The total number of libraries in Vienna enumerated by Dr Petzholdt is 101, and many of them are of considerable extent.

The number of monastic libraries in Austrai is very considerable. Particular are furnished, in the report already quoted, of 107 of them, varying from a few hundreds of volumes to as many as 80,000. Many other such libraries are known to exist in the 463 monasteries. The oldest of them, and the oldest library in Austria, is that of the monastery of St Peter at Salzburg, which was established by St Rupert in the 6th century. It possesses 60,000 volumes, with nearly 20,000 incunabula. The four next in point of antiquity are Kremsmunster (50,000), Lambach (22,000), Admont (80,000), and M elk (60,000), all of them dating from the 11th century. Of the 107 libraries enumerated in the report, 56 possessed 500 volumes or upwards at the end of 1870. For further particulars as to the larger Austrian libraries the readers is referred to the tables.

The libraries in the Hungarian kingdom are not included in the report, and, as will be seen from the tables, are not very numerous. The most important of them are at Buda-Pest.

The public libraries of Switzerland have been very carefully registered by Dr Ernest libraries Heitz, as the existed in q868. Altogether no less than 2096 libraries are recorded, four-fifths of these belong to the class of "bibliotheques populaires et celles pour la jeunesse," and few are of literary importance. Only eighteen have as many as 30,000 volumes. The largest collection of books in Switzerland is the University Library of Basel, founded with the university in 1460. The monastic libraries of St Gal and Einsieden date respectively from the years 830 and 946, and are of great historical and literary interest.

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