Universiteit Leiden

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Friends of Leiden University Libraries

Do you enjoy our collections, do you make extensive use of our facilities and do you sympathise with our activities? You can become a Friend of Leiden University Libraries (UBL) to support the purchase of special books, manuscripts and maps for the benefit of research and teaching at Leiden University.

Leiden University is the oldest university in The Netherlands. Its Library (founded in 1587) is one of the most important research libraries in the world.  The first years of the university were not easy, but gradually the collection grew. Starting with a meager 500 books at the end of the sixteenth century, the collection had grown to more than 25.00 titles at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Today the user can access approximately three million books, 87,000 periodicals, 40,000 electronic journals, 500 databases through the digital catalogue. Among them are costly and often unique objects, such as medieval manuscripts, incunabula, old prints, letters, maps, drawings, prints and photographs. Some of these objects  have been acquired by purchase, as well as by generous donations by individuals , who thereby have contributed to the growth and therefore to the prosperity of the library.

The library provides services to its students and staff and in addition to graduates, scientists from other scholarly institutions, foreign researchers  and guests from all over the world. The Library’s invaluable collections of manuscripts, printed books and electronic resources have been meeting the needs of readers in all areas of scholarship for generations. To be able to continue to do this, the Library needs to be ready to acquire treasures whenever they surface, often unexpectedly.

The Leiden University Libraries Friends Foundation was established to support the activities of the library, especially in the field of supporting the increase and preservation of the Special Collections of the library. The foundation provides funds for material that would otherwise be beyond the Library’s reach. It also helps to preserve the priceless collections and explains their significance through lectures, literary, musical and other events. Increasingly, the Friends’ contribution towards the purchase of new acquisitions strengthens the Library’s case when appealing to outside sources for grants.

Notable acquisitions secured by the Friends include the monumental drawing Beachhouse Night by the Rotterdam artist Sandro Setola, a manuscripts on mathematics (1701) by George Lodewijk Mosburger and the unique auction catalogue of the inventory of the Leiden printer Johannes Heiligert (1792).

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