FEBRUARY 2022 - Eight Cologne members of the Bundestag support the restoration of our endangered historical book collection

Prominent support for art collector and patron Peter Jungen and his now second campaign to preserve our endangered historical book stock: Eight members of the Bundestag from Cologne have written a joint letter to the Minister of State for Culture, Claudia Roth, to request financial support for the restoration and "rescue of the cultural heritage in book form of the city of Cologne".

About 1,200 of our approximately 315,00 old books are in very poor condition and urgently need to be restored; the remaining volumes require preventive conservation. This requires about two million euros, which - in addition to the requested public funds - will also be collected through private donations.

"In order to secure the necessary financial resources [ ... ], a broad-based effort is needed that involves all contributors in the Federal and State government equally," the MPs said in their letter.
The historical city library in the UCL is "not only important for Cologne, but also for the entire Rhineland", and the old holdings are also "identity-forming for the middle classes in the Rhineland".

To the complete text (German) >> (PDF, 157KB)

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HISTORICAL CITY LIBRARY - THE FORMER CITY LIBRARY OF COLOGNE

After the unification of the Council Library (Syndicate Library) and the Wallraf Library, it was up to those responsible to expand the new City Library. Until 1887, the city archivist was responsible for this. It was not until 1888 that Adolf Keysser (1850-1932) was hired as the first full-time city librarian and appointed director of the library in 1900. The budget situation had been rather meagre until about 1880, and the first library director will have been particularly pleased in the coming years with the donations of private book collections such as Becker (1885), Hittorff (1898), Mevissen (1899) and Fastenrath (1908). In addition, there was also the library of the hymnologist Wilhelm Bäumker and other donations.

Until 1878, the library held just 35,000 volumes, which grew to 170,000 volumes during Keysser's tenure. At the end of the century, financial support improved and the library director laid the foundation for the Rhineland Department, a collection that the UCL still maintains, digitises and constantly expands today.

 

LACK OF SPACE AND THE DIVISION OF LARGE COLLECTIONS

The explosion of collections meant that the library needed a new building. In 1897, the new building at the Gereonskloster was completed, into which the City Library and City Archive moved. Although space had been created for 300,000 volumes, the room capacity was soon no longer sufficient for both institutions.

 

MOVE TO PORTALSGASSE

The City Library returned to the vicinity of the City Hall and moved into its new home in Portalsgasse. When the previously independent institutions of archive and library now finally separated, the decision was made to leave the manuscripts in the City Archive. This meant that the book-historical parts of large collections such as those of Wallraf and Mevissen were torn apart.

THREE LIBRARY LOCATIONS FOR THE UNIVERSITY'S SUPPLY OF LITERATURE

When the University and City Library was founded in 1920 as the central library of the university, the city library collections were primarily intended to serve the research and teaching of the Faculty of Art and Humanities. With the unification of the new UCL, which was spread over three locations, in the main building of the university, an almost untenable situation was brought to an end in 1934. However, the city library's odyssey did not end until 1968, when it moved into the newly constructed UCL building.


Consultation for research purposes takes place in the Historical Collections Reading Room.