Since 1604 ...
Greifswald University Library is one of the oldest university libraries in Germany. Shortly after its foundation in the year 1456 the University of Greifswald already had two libraries (the Faculties of Arts and Law). These were made possible thanks to a donation made by the first rector and actual initiator of the foundation of the university, Heinrich Rubenow. However, these collections were lost during the Reformation period.
Foundation of the University Library
After its re-foundation as a Protestant university, a contract for the delivery of books dated 17/04/1606 is the first evidence of the existence of the University Library. This day is therefore deemed the date of the foundation of the University Library as an independent institution.
An extensive and valuable historical collection of Scandinavian literature results from the time when Greifswald belonged to Sweden (1648-1815). The activities of Johann Karl Dähnert are of particular note here. The Professor of the History of Science and librarian of the university undertook a complete reorganisation of the library. Not only did he manage to increase the collection fivefold through the purchase of important collections (Nettelbaldt), he also achieved a fundamental improvement in the indexing of the collection by compiling new catalogues thus integrating the library as an independent institution within the university. Unfortunately, of the two catalogues (alphabetical and systematic) only the systematic catalogue in book form still exists.
During the time of Prussian governance 1815-1945 the Greifswald University Library was granted the privilege of legal deposit for Pomerania, which led to an intensification of its second core emphasis, Pomeranica. The acquisition of the Church Library of Wolgast also took place at this time (1830), for a low purchase price of 500 thalers. The rare 36-page bible was also among the new acquisitions in addition to other incunabula.
Notable heads of the library in this period include Fritz Milkau (1902 - 1907) and Johannes Luther (1921 - 1927), who gave important impulses for the development of the library. Important for the expansion of the collection was also the conclusion of contracts with the Rugian-Pomeranian History Society and the Scientific Association of New Western Pomerania and Rügen, whereby the book collections and the periodical exchange of the two associations were given to the library.
The collections evacuated during the Second World War were never completely returned, which has led to significant gaps, in particular in the area of Low German literature. Even after the Second World War the University Library maintained its emphasis on the Northern European and Baltic countries.
Special collection area Baltic Countries
From 1998 to 2014 Greifswald University Library was allocated the special collection area Baltic Countries by the German Research Foundation (DFG). This led to an increase in the importance of the library for literature from the Baltic region. The separately compiled collection was discontinued at the end of 2015 and the collections allocated to the respective fields of study.
Central University Library
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