The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

The treasure chambers of the Leiden University Library

Doris Jedamski

There can be no university without a library. Twelve years after William of Orange established Leiden University in 1575, he founded Leiden University Library, which, from the beginning, was meant to serve as a research facility. Access was restricted to a few privileged men (and their dogs!), and the books had to be consulted on the spot as they were chained to the shelves. Times have changed. Books are electronically protected, academia is no longer a man’s world – and dogs are asked to stay outside. The collection has grown from a few hundred books to over 4 million printed copies, plus approximately 1 million electronic books. Electronic resources, such as the 500+ databases in the University Library, allow us to share knowledge with, and to connect to, the most remote parts of the world. However, some things have not changed: the library still guards true treasures, thousands of jewels that reflect ideas and thoughts of times long past.

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