Humble monuments

The old catalogues of the University Library are preserved with care – and rightly so, because each is a monument to scholarship. They show us what the library looked like at various points in its long history.

The University Library has hundreds of catalogues, including catalogues of collections. Some of these were made because someone donated a special collection of books to the university, and some because people considered a subject important enough to justify a catalogue.

In other words, a catalogue is more than a list of books in alphabetic or thematic order. The books that it contains show us what people found interesting in a particular period. The manner in which the books were described also changed over time, enabling one to see how an ever-increasing amount of printed matter needed to be described ever more precisely. In the fifteenth century the library would possess one edition of a text, whereas four centuries later it would sometimes own hundreds.

The largest and most monumental catalogue at our library no longer exists, however. The card catalogue, which was kept from the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century, has been supplanted by the online catalogue.

  • The old card catalogue of the University Library on Singel in 1956.


Items related to this story