Leiden University Library

Leiden University Library

Leiden University Library

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Leiden University Library is a library founded in 1575 in Leiden, Netherlands. It is regarded as a significant place in the development of European culture: it is a part of a small number of cultural centres that gave direction to the development and spread of knowledge during the Enlightenment. This was due particularly to the simultaneous presence of a unique collection of exceptional sources and scholars.Christiane Berkvens-Stevelinck. Magna commoditas : geschiedenis van de Leidse universiteitsbibliotheek 1575-2000, p.240.

Holdings include approximately 3,500,000 volumes, 1,000,000 e-books, 20,000 current serials, 30,000 e-journals, 60,000 Oriental and Western manuscripts, 450,000 letters, 70,000 maps, 100,000 prints, 12,000 drawings and 120,000 photographs.

"Est hic magna commoditas bibliothecae ut studiosi possint studere"
:—Josephus Justus Scaliger

"The greatest advantage of the library is that those who want to study, can study."


The 16th-century Dutch Revolt against the Habsburgs created a new country with a new religion. Soon, the need for a seat of higher learning was felt and in 1575 Leiden University was founded with the spoils from a confiscated Catholic monastery nearby.

At the time the university was founded, it was immediately determined that a library in the vicinity of lecture halls was an absolute necessity. The library's first book was the Polyglot Bible, printed by Christoffel Plantijn, a gift of......
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