Book collections and manuscripts from six centuries
After its dissolution in 1577, the book collection of the Artist Faculty of the old Cologne University had been divided between the three Cologne grammar schools Tricoronatum (originating from the former Kuckanerbörse), Laurentianum and Montanum. The distribution was decided by random drawing. After the grammar schools were closed in 1798 and united in the former Jesuit College to form a central school (École centrale), the new library was assigned its book collections. A decree of the French prefect stipulated that the holdings of previously closed monasteries and foundations in Cologne should also be added to the library of the central school. However, many items from the old libraries had been lost, much had been sold, maculated or taken to Paris. Approximately 30,000 of the estimated 80,000 volumes were given a new home.
The Gymnasial library in the 19th and 20th centuries
The Gymnasium library was the first professionally managed library in the city of Cologne. The librarian Franz Ferdinand Pape (employed 1824-1846) reorganized the library in 1824. In 1833 the collection comprised about 33,000 volumes. In 1871 a new building was erected at the Gereonshof. After the unification with the municipal library in 1884, the collection increased to about 40,000 volumes. Since that time, the holdings of the Gymnasium library have formed a permanent deposit only in the City Library and today in the University and City Library. In 1897 a new building was erected at the Gereonskloster, into which the municipal library and the municipal archive moved. The decision was made to divide printed manuscripts and handwritten manuscripts. As a result, about 700 manuscripts and about 250 fragments came into the care of the City Archives. For further information on the manuscripts in the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne today, visit: Manuscript collections.
Combined with the library of Ferdinand Franz Wallraf and the library of the Cologne Council (syndicate library), the Gynmasial library forms the foundation of the former scientific municipal library. In 1920 this was combined with the library of the School of Economics and the library of the Academy of Practical Medicine to form the University and City Library. In 1934, the "Book Union" of these collections took place in the new main building of the university reopened in 1919. The collection survived the Second World War undamaged by timely relocation measures. Since 1966, the Gymnasium library has been kept in a particularly protected part of the new library building on Kerpener Straße. The library can be consulted for research purposes in the Historical Collections Reading Room.
The Gymnasial library is divided into the following departments