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Edward Edwards.

Free town libraries, their formation, management, and history; in Britain, France, Germany & America. Together with brief notices of book-collectors, and of the respective places of deposit of their surviving collections online

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of the children in the popular schools.

The Library of Hamburgh was founded in 1529. The Totr,,
Several small pre-existing collections, chiefly monastic, were H^b'uru'i.'.
then brought together to be its groundwork. The forma-
tion of the new library was effected under the direction
of John BuGENHAGEN, tlic wcU-knowH fellow worker of
Luther, who at that date was re-organizing both the
ecclesiastical and educational institutions of Hamburgii.



The re-
foundation



228 FREE TOWN LIBRARIES, ABROAD.

The comprehensive character which he desired to give to
the Library is marked by the express direction that all
available books — " good and bad together " — should be
collected.*

There is no evidence of any municipal exertion — direct ,
or indirect — for the improvement of the new institution ]
until 1610, when the Burgomaster Sebastian von Bergen
gave many books and by his example stirred up some of
his fellow- senators, and many private townsmen, to like
liberality. What was thus done in that and the succeeding
years amounted to a re-foundation of the Library of 1529.
by Von g^^ji- ^|. continued to be a scholastic not (in the strict sense

Bergen. ^

of the term) a pubhc library. It was the Library of the
School of St. John, or Johanneum.

It has been said that Bergen bequeathed to the Johan-
neum his private collection of books, but his bequest, if
made, was informal, and had no effect. Eventually, the
library came — about the year 1650 — by the bequest of its
next possessor, Francis Lindexbrog, and his own collec-
tion accompanied that which he had acc^uired by his mar-
riage with the widow of Bergen. Another important
acquisition was that of the Library of Tassius, one of the
Hamburgh tutors. And nearly at the same period the
libraries of the Johanneum and of the neighbouring Gym-
nasium were incorporated as a ' Common Library.' The
building which received them, with all their academical

* The terms of tlie InstiTcCtion are as follows : — " Eine Liberie schall
man anricliten, niclit veern van der Scliolen luid Lectorio, daiin alle
Bocke, glide iin bose, versamlet werden, de man in disser Stadt dartlio
bekamen mag, docla dat se ordentlick werden gelegt, besonderlick de
Besten, een icklick na syner Artli ; ScLlotelen scliolen dartlio syn, een
edder veer, by etliclien, alss by den Rectore nnd Subrectore und Super-
intendenten, dat neii Schade gescbebe." — Petersen. Ge^chichte der Harn-
lmrf)ischen Stadthihllotliek. p. 14.



(iKOWlll (»F llAMl'.rKClI TOWX LIl'.lJAHV :>:1\)

i|)|)(.'iRlagi's, was rcconstnictccl and dccoratccl. For nearly
wo centuries it was one of the most i)ictiiresque buildings

he seen in Hamburgh.

1 lom this time the library entered on a course of steady
)rogress. During the remainder of the seventeenth century
Many other accessions accrued of which the following are
he principal : (1) the Library of Marquardt Schlegel,
)enueathed in 1()()3, but not incorporated with the Ham- i

)urgh Collection until 1057 ; (2) that of Joachim Jungius, i

lIso received in H)57 ; (3) the collections, cliiefly relating
,jo music, of Thomas Sellius ; (4) a part of the MSS. left,
1 1 his death, by Holstenius, and brought to Germany j

Irom Rome ; (5) a valuable collection of books, comprising
•etween 3000 and 4000 volumes, which had been formed
iiy Henry Langenbeck. At the close of the century the
brary was estimated to contain about 21,000 .volumes.
ind exactly at that period a bequest made by Vincent
'laccius added to it 4000 volumes more.

1 In tiie following century the splendid gifts of the brotheis ,;,^,„,|, „,
John Christian and John Christopher Wolf [Book IV, ,,1'";;';;;;*:'
I Wolf] almost doubled the numerical contents of a col
^ction which had already enjoyed so rapid a growth as to " Vm j
ie quite exceptional amongst the municipal collections of
,ie time ; and much more than doubled the intrinsic worth
if the library to scholars. With this large accession of
Hnted books and of choice manuscripts there came also a
jnsiderable endowment fund. Before the close of the
ghteenth century more than twenty other important gifts
^id bequests — exclusive of a crowd of minor ones — had
jicreased the 25,000 volumes of 1700 to more than
'00,000 volumes. The various archaeological and physical
•)llcctions appended to the Library had also — and, for the

k est part, by a like exhibition of lil)erality and puiilic spirit



Libiji .
(luring
XVnth Cell-



230 FREE TOWN LTBE ARIES, ABROAD.

on the part of a multitude of Hamburgh citizens — become
worthy of the growing wealth and of the commercial posi-
tion of the city to which they belonged.

As may naturally be inferred from the rapid aggregation
of so large a number of separate collections, a considerable
mass of duplicate books had accrued. These have afforded
means of purchase, additional to those of an ordinary kind
arising from early endowments and from the current grants!
of the municipality. During the present century selections,;
with a view to the filhng up of ascertained deficiencies, had
become the most important requirement. Considerable addi-l
tions have been made by purchase. Some small but valuabk;
collections on specific subjects have also been received by gift |
Notable amongst these are the mineralogical books of Vo^i
Struve; the collections in Ilymiiology of Dr. J. A. Ram-!
BACH, given by his widow in 1852; the Halle collection!
acquired in 1866 ; an extensive series of works on-Hanseatii
archaeology and statistics, formed by Luhrzen ; and als<j
large and important selections from the Library of thi
eminent historian Lappenberg,* acquired in 1867. Th;
bequest of a valuable Spanish library was made to the Cit
of Hamburgh some years ago, by its Consul at Cadiz, J. IN
BoEHL VON Taber, but the Spanish government refused t
permit the books to be exported. They were secured, b
compulsory purchase, for the Royal Library of Madrid. I
1860, and mainly by the exertions of J. S. Meyer,
special ' Schiller collection' was formed, and is augmente
from time to time.

An official return, printed in 1850 (but prepared

* The acquisition from tlie Lappenberg library came partly by g
and partly by purchase. They comprised an important series of maj
and valuable groups of books on the History and Literatures of Brit;;.
and of Scandinavia. The latter accrued by select purchases made ;;
Lt'ipsie in 1867. Avh^n Liipponberg's books were sold by auction.



(iuowTii or iiAMiu'iajii Town LinuAuv.



:1M



1^10), assigned to the Town Jjihrary of Jl;unl)uri2;li an
auu'ivgate of about 153,000 printed 'books,' and 5000
manuscripts. It had also about -10,000 printed tracts and
• dissertations,' which, for the most part, were unbound.
Dr. Petzholdt, in I'^o^, estimates the number of printed
'Ones as approximating to about 200,000. Hut later
notices of the Hamburgh Library publislicd by tlie same
ciiiincnt authority, show that this estimate must have been
considerably too high. At Hamburgh the official use of
the vague phrase " BiLchern unci Brochuren' is persistent,
and makes it difficult to give any satisfactory estimate of
the precise extent of the library. The uearest approxi-
mation to a detinite statement assigns to the library in
1S60 about 187,000 volumes. It appears (from a series
of annual reports subsequent to 1S53 and extending to
1866) that, taking one year with another, nearly 4000
'works and portions of works'* have been added, annually,
to the Town Library. If we estimate these as equivalent
to one tenth of that number of ordinary ' volumes' the
allowance will probably be adequate. A strict counting of
tiie library would, perhaps, not add in 1809 more than
some 3000 volumes to the estimated 187,000 of 1860.
The figures, when so reduced, leave the collection still in
the first rank among the Libraries of Municipalities. But
the intrinsic worth of the Hamburgh Library is greater

* The details of the years 18<>5 and 1860 are as follows : —



By purchase
By exchange
By copyright and gifts .

Total number added



Works and portions
OF Works.'

1865.

810

911

. 3,271

. 4.992



Works and portions
of Works.'

18G6.

785

1,214

5,501

7,500



— Reports, by Petersen, printed in Sci'dji., xxvii
and 73. scq-i.



811 pp.. pp. ()5, 8Cq<j



232 FIIEE TOWN LIBRARIES, ABROAD.

than its mere numerical extent; and its administration has,
for a very long period, been exemplary. The ordinary
income of the Town Library of Hamburgh was, in 1849,
equal to a little less than £500 of English money. Its use
both as a Consulting Collection and as a Lending Col-
lection is free alike to townsmen and to strangers duly
recommended. In 1865, the number of visits paid to the
Reading Room was 1832. In the following year that
number had increased to 2265. In 1865 the aggregate
issue of volumes lent was 3970; in 1866,4313. This
amount of publicity, though an increasing amount, is, it
will be seen, still relatively small when compared with the
issues of Town Libraries — far less richly endowed than that
of Hamburgh — in many other countries.

The Town Auother instructive example of the growth of a Town
Library, alike in wealth of literature and in liberality of
administration, by the combined efforts of individual citizens
and of enlightened municipalities, may be found in the his-
tory of that of Breslau.

The Town Collection of Breslau combines the ' Rhediger
Library' or ' Library of St. Elizabeth,' founded by Thomas
von Rhediger in 1575* [Book IV, § B]iedigei'\ ; the
' Library of St. Bernardin,' founded at a period anterior to
the bequest of Rhediger, but which did not attain im-
portance until late in the seventeenth century ; and the
'Library of St. Mary Magdalen,' founded in 1547 and
opened to the Public in 1644.

Of these collections — all of them notable on one point or
other — Rhediger's was the most valuable. Founded by a
conspicuous exertion of individual munificence, it incited,
from time to time, other liberal efforts for its improvement.

* But not opened to the Public until 1661. See Book IV, § 807.



Library of
Bresliui.



rilK TOWN LIHKAKV (»F HKKSI.Ai: L';i3

Between the years KKit and l/^^l no K ss than seM'n
libraries formed by inhabitants of Jireshuiwere sueccssively
added to it, either by donation or by beqncst. Sonic of
these gifts were of great vabie.

Its contents, in 1SG4 — when the nnion of the tiu-ee
libraries, as one combined municipal collection, was effected

were stated as follows -. — More than 70,000 volumes of
printed books; almost 1000 MSS. ; 15,000 engravings and
wood-cuts ; and a remarkable collection of early nuisic,
printed and MS.

Among the MSS. of the Rhediger Library the following
upe especially notable : (1) A precious MS. of Froissart in
bur folio volumes on vellum with admirable illuminations,
written and painted in the 15tli century for Anthony of
iurgundy, a natural son of Duke Philip the Good.
2) A MS. of the History of Valerius Maximus, written for
he same Bastard of Burgundy, and similarly illuminated.
'3) A Latin Evangeliary, in uncials, of the eighth century.
4) A copy of the Paraphrasis i?i Cautica Canticorum of
iVillirainns, with an old German translation, written in the
eleventh century. (5) A MS. of the Commcdia of Dante, of
he 14th century. The Greek MSS. of this Library are
lumerous and many of them valuable ; but they have not
et, it is believed, been thoroughly catalogued or examined,
.'here are also some Arabic MSS. The printed incunabula
re of considerable extent and rarity. And finally the
irinted books relating to the history and concerns of
ilesia in particular, are, as they should be in Jh-eslau, con-
picuous as a matter of special care to the managers of the
-iljrary.*

i" r part of this account of Rhcdiger's Library I am indobt^^'cl to
• ry able Essay iif Neigebaur, entitled Die Bihliothek in iler EliaU'
..Uikirchc zn Breshtn ; i-iibli-slud iu Scraj)cv)ii of iJrT)?.



234 FREE TOWN LIBRARIES, ABROAD.

Here also is the earliest known MS, of the work of
Thomas of Canimpre, Be reriim nafura lihri cox, remark-
able in several points of view, and especially as a com-
pendium of the science of the earlier part of the thirteenth
century. The Rhediger MS. is coeval with the author, and
may possibly be in his autograph. Of some other curiosi-
ties in this collection an interesting account may be found
in the treatise of Henschel, and in that of Wachler
[Thomas von Mhediger und seine Bilchersammlung).

When the amalgamation of Rhediger's Library with the '
more ancient collections of St. Mary Magdalen and of
St. Bernardin was achieved, in 18G4, the citizens of Breslau j
entered upon the enjoyment of a Town Library of more '
than 130,000 volumes, nobly lodged and liberally main- i
tained. The Town Hall is a fine example of the municipal :
architecture of the fourteenth century, and no less than j
eighteen of its finest rooms are occupied by the combined i
libraries. If taken wdth its suburbs, Breslau has a popu-
lation of more than 160,000, Within stricter limits, ■
its inhabitants, according to a recent census, number ji
138,651.

The Town I^ Augsburgh municipal effort early accomplished —
Augstogif. although upon a much smaller scale — that public provision
of books for the general use of the townsmen which in
Breslau was made partly by private liberality, and partly by
the public spirit of the ecclesiastical corporations. In 1537
the town magistrates made a selection from the books of
the dissolved monasteries; brought the selected books
together in the Convent of the Dominicans, and organized
them as a town collection. When the changes of the times
brought the Dominicans back to their old abode, the books



Till-: TOWN LIBRARY OF AUGSBURG II. x!;53

v.crc traiisfciTcd to another convent whieh was still empty;
!)iit in 15(12 a special and permanent home was built for
the Town Library, which grew rapidly in importance until
it occupied an eminent place amongst the municipal col-
lections of Germany,

In recent times, when Augsburgli had become part of
the kini2;dom of Bavaria, the government at Munich looked
with somewhat envious eyes upon the choicer and rarer
[)ortion of those literary treasures of which the burghers of
Augsburgh had gradually acquired possession. It might
l)e well enough, thought the Bavarian officials, that towns-
men, most of whom belonged to the trading class, should
have a good collection of ordinary books to read in their
hours of leisure. But what did mere burghers want with
choice MSS., with i)rccious historical records, or with the
rarities and marvels of typography ? In their opinion, such
treasures would better become the seat of government.
They were strong enough to convert opinion into fact.
Accordingly, the Augsburgh library was stripped of some of
its choicest ornaments, for the benefit of the Royal Col-
lection at Munich. This was done in lb06.

The suppression of monastic connnunities, begun in the
sixteenth century, was resumed in the nineteenth, and a
.similar course was taken with their literary possessions.
The best were selected for Munich. At Augsburgh a new
library was founded with the bulk of the monastic col-
lections. It w^as called ' Provincial Library' {Krcis-
bibliofhek). Political events led from time to time to
considerable changes in the internal administration of the
Bavarian provinces. As Augsburgh had been dei)rivc(l of
part of its fine library for the aggrandizement of Munich,
80 some smaller towns suffered the same kind of loss for the
benefit of Augsburgh. When, at a recent period, the new



Removal of
some of its
chief trea-
sures to
Mujiieli.



iii'.iry ot
l-'raiiktbi't



236 FREE TOWN LIBRARIES, ABROAD.

' Provincial Library' and the old ' Town Library' were
incorporated, the combined collection had attained to nearly
100,000 volumes. Augsburgh had in 1864 somewhat less
than 50,000 inhabitants.

The books are publicly and freely used both by readers
and borrowers. To burgesses books are lent as of right ;
to non-burgesses upon due voucher.

The library is maintained by a joint contribution
from the funds of the Province and from those of the
Municipality.

Town Li- Frankfort, also, possesses a fine Town Library which,
taken from its first inception, can look back upon a history
of almost four centuries. Ten years ago it was in posses-
sion of almost 80,000 volumes of printed books and of
about 1000 MSS. Prankfort, with a population of 89,837
inhabitants, has four other libraries which, in greater or less
degree, are publicly accessible.

In 18G7 the Town Library received an important
augmentation, by the free gift, upon certain necessary con-
ditions, of the Library of the former ' National Assembly '
of Germany. It was stipulated that certain collections of
German Jurisprudence, of Political Tracts, and of PubHc
Archives, should continue to be preserved in their existing
condition and full integrity. Certain other collections which
had been attached to the Library of the ' Bund,' and which
comprised Charts, Maps, and Plans, of great value for mili-
tary purposes to the several governments by which they had
been contributed, the donor were left at liberty to reclaim.

The Town Library of Nuremberg dates, primarily, from
that mediaeval gift of Conrad Kuhnuofer vvliich has been
mentioned in an .early chapter of this volume. The library



TIIK T(.\VN IJlil.'AL'V oK M IIKMI'.KIIC, '2:\7

SO initiated in 1 I i5 — or what survived of it — received n,.- T...rn
several accessions in the (hiys of the German Reformation. Nim'n'oi.i^.
In 153S, it was detinitively established in the Convent of
the suppressed Dominicans of Nuremberg. During the
subsequent three centuries it has successively absorbed
several valuable collections, the most important of wliich
are noticed hereafter. [Book IV.*] The one special merit
by which the Nuremberg municipal collection is ])re-
eminently marked consists in the care bestowed on the
accumulation and good arrangement of the monuments and
materials of the local history.

Any one of a multitude of adverse circumstances may, for a
time, so hamper and limit the practical public advantages of
a Town Library, even when liberally supported and adminis-
tered, that the amount of good currently derived from it
imay seem to be in disproportion to the past labours and
jthe past expenditure. But whenever the collection has been
Iniade a well-furnished repository of the local history, its
permanent public value is put beyond the reach of accident.
Care and cost so expended are sure to bring an ultimate
jreturn to the whole community.

i It is prol)ablc that a careful comparison of the history of
municipal libraries in Germany with that of the like insti-
itutions in France would sliow, conclusively, that they have
but rarely l)een allowed, in any part of Germany, to fall so
Imuch into arrear, and into a state of so much neglect and
inefficiency as that which is known to have existed in several
parts of France, at certain periods. But in Germany, ])re-
icisely as in France, the insufficiency of Town Libraries of
|the old and Established pattern to meet, in any adcfjuate
•degree, the wants even of the town population, has long

Tlu- r.'fcron«OK will l..- found untler " XcKKMnionr;." in the Indtx.



Libraries of
Germany.



238 FREE TOWN LIBRARIES, ABROAD.

been apparent. In Germany, as in France, Popular Town
Libraries of a new sort have been established — partly by
the exertions of eckicational societies ; partly by those of
the municipal authorities — with the especial object of
bringing an effectual supply of good books within the
reach of the artisan classes. Prussia has been foremost in
effort of this kind.
Po,,„,,r At Berlin, for example, four ' People's Libraries *
{VolJcshihliotUeken') were established in the year 1850 in
as many different parts of the capital. A large proportion
of the primary expenses was borne by an association called
'The Scientific and Educational Union.' The current
expenses of maintenance are borne partly by the munici-i
palities and partly by the Educational Union ; aided by the
voluntary gifts of individuals. Begun as Free Public Reading
Rooms, the work of the new institutions soon embraced the
lending of books for family use.

The tentative efforts of 1850 were highly successful and
encouraging. Between that year and the year 18G6 three
additional Peoples' Libraries were established in the suburbs
of Berlin. And, in 1867, an eighth library was founded
for Potsdam and the Schoneberg district. In a publication
of 1867 — not an official one — I find it stated that four ol
these eight libraries contained an aggregate of 18,00C
volumes, and that the number of persons admitted tc
borrow books for home use in one year was 4311. Some
of them began with the liberal provision of 2500 volumes
of well-chosen books as a groundwork; others of then
were started on a somewhat humbler scale. But all, it if
said, have made satisfactory progress. All have beer
eagerly welcomed by those they were m6re especiallj'
intended to benefit. '

In Hamburgh — to take one other example — a some



rorULAR LIBRARIES OF GERMANY. 23'.)

what similar * People's I.ibraiy ' has been established on
the priiicii)le of taking some payment from all who partiei-

i pate in its advantages, bnt lixing this payment or subserip-

j i tion at a very low rate. Here, also, a society, called the

i j * Schiller Union,' took the initiative. The library was

>i opened in July, 1S62. Within four years it possessed

nearly 5000 volumes. Its reading-room is opened twice a

week during the summer months, and on every evening

during the winter months. At Hamburgh, as at Berlin, the

, success is represented to be encouraging. But as yet no

! statistics are available of that detailed kind which alone
would afford any satisfactory basis for a comparison — much
to be desired — of the results of the small-payment plan

I followed at Hamburgh with those of the freer provision

I adopted at Berlin.

Nor is it in the large towns of Germany alone that
'People's Libraries' have been, of late years, successfully esta-
blished. The like have been founded in certain very small villages and
villages and hamlets. In some places the union of a free read-

i ing room with a circulating collection available by a small
payment seems to have worked well. Sometimes the expenses
of maintenance are met by a fund which accrues from

, these five distinct sources : (1) A fixed contribution from
the common funds of the village or parish ; (2) a fixed

I contribution from the chief proprietor {' Beisteiier des

'i Gutslierrn) ; (3) small payments of borrowers; (4) custo-

: mary contributions gathered at marriages, baptisms, and

' other festive occasions ; (5) voluntary gifts.



bil)liotliekcn'
in German



'llie Tuwi

Liliriii7 of

Tiinic.



CHAPTER III.

NOTES ON THE TOWN LIBRARIES OF SOME OTHER
CONTINENTAL STATES.

§ 1. Switzerland. i

I
Prom the days of the Reformation most of the Swis^.'

Cantons have possessed public collections of books. Sonic^

of them are Cantonal and some Municipal. The Cantons!

of Zurich, Berne, and Geneva are, in this respect, as ii"

others, preeminent. But very few of these Swiss Libraries

are Lending Libraries otherwise than by the payment oJi

entrance fees or of a small annual subscription. j

The Town Library of Berne \vas founded in 1548. lli

contained in 1853 about 49,000 printed volumes. Upor;

the basis of an official statement that, on the average, more,

than two hundred volumes are yearly added, it may be'

estimated to contain, in 1869, at least 52,000 printer;

volumes. According to an official report, of the year 1849.;

the MSS. numbered ;2303; of which number 1500 relate!

to the History of Switzerland. According to Pktzholdt^sj

Handhuch of 1853, the number of MSS. Avas in that yeaii

about 3200. More than 1000 MSS. came from the:

BoNGARS collection, and were presented to Berne by Jacob

von LiEBEGG in 1632. Amongst these are some very

valuable classical MSS.

In 1853 the yearly number of readers at Berne ebd not

nuich exceed 500 ; that of books lent was estimated asj

somewhat more than 2000 volumes. Inhabitants of Berne



THE TOWN 1J151;ai;V of OKNEYA. 211

j);iv, once t'oi' all, ail entrance ice of ten Swiss /ivrrs. Since
the yenr l>Oy Professors and Students of the University
are admitted without personal })aynient, but a contribution
to the library fund is made by the Cantonal Govcrnmeut by



Online LibraryEdward EdwardsFree town libraries, their formation, management, and history; in Britain, France, Germany & America. Together with brief notices of book-collectors, and of the respective places of deposit of their surviving collections → online text (page 19 of 52)