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Startseite english About us A brief history of Kiel University Library

A brief history of Kiel University Library

Established simultaneously to Kiel University in 1665, the library is almost 350 years old. Its first holdings were the manuscripts and imprints of the Augustinian abbey of Bordesholm that was closed about 1550. They still constitute the oldest part of our books and manuscripts.

In the first hundred years of the library's existence, additions to the collection could be made to a limited scale only; in 1768, the holdings amounted to 6,000 volumes. At the end of the 18th century, however, the collection already comprised 40,000 volumes. Thus Kiel University Library was ranking among the more important German libraries at that time.

For more than 200 years, the library had to share its building with other institutions of Kiel University. In 1884, it was relocated to a building at Brunswiker Straße 2. As this building proved to be too small soon, it was extended in 1907 - less than 25 years after having moved to this site. Unfortunately, the annex was destroyed during a bombing raid on April 29, 1942. As a result, half of the book stock (which had risen to more than 500,000 volumes by the beginning of World War II) was destroyed.

After the war, the entire university (except for the medical faculty) was relocated to the premises at Olshausenstraße. The library moved there in 1966 leaving only the Medical Department's library at the former site. Again the new building at the intersection Olshausenstraße/Westring turned out to be too small soon, necessitating the establishment of a Scientific Branch at Heinrich-Hecht-Platz in 1987.

The spatial dissection ended in 2001 when Kiel University Library was relocated once more to a new building at Leibnizstraße. Since then the Central Library consists of three departments: the Main Department (plus a so-called "Service Point Westring" at the former site), the Medical Department at Breiter Weg and the Engineering Department at Kaiserstraße.

From the late 19th century on, the specialised libraries were founded along with the university's seminars and departments. Both the number of specialised libraries and their collection sizes increased soon. In 1973, the Schleswig-Holstein State Law on Universities and Colleges established the basis for a central institution "University Library". Since then, the specialised libraries do not belong to the respective departments anymore, but are part of the University Library.