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The University Library of Kassel - State Library and Murhard Library of the City of Kassel is the library system of the University of Kassel existing in this form since 1976. As the largest and oldest scientific library of Northern Hessen, it is responsible for the comprehensive supply of literature and information for the university and the region. It is committed to providing a user-friendly collection building and the consequent digitisation and supply of both its historical collections and the scientifc publications of the university.
The Landesbibliothek founded in 1580 and the Murhard Library, which goes back to a foundation of 1852, constitute the Historical Heritage of the university.
The Privatbibliothek (Private Library) built by Landgrave Wilhelm IV served the broad-based research and educational interests of the landgrave. It laid the foundation stone for the current Landesbibliothek. The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, also known for their research on the German language as well as their collection of folk and household tales, acted as librarians and researchers in the Landesbibliothek, which was at that time housed in the Museum Fridericianum. In 1957, after the severe losses suffered in the Second World War and the extensive destruction of the building, the Landesbibliothek with its saved collections was finally located under the roof of the Muhard Library. Today, the historical collection is part of the special collections. It includes unique works such as the Hildebrandlied from the 9th century or the world's largest collection of notes manuscripts of Heinrich Schütz. With its rich collections, it is a treasure chest of a special kind: a research library for scientists from all over the world and at the same time a regional documentation centre for literature about the history and culture of the former electorate of Hessen-Kassel. As a Hessian state library, it is also responsible for the preservation and access of literature about the history and regional studies of Hessen-Kassel as well as the collection of the publishing products released in its catchment area.
The Murhard Library of the city of Kassel goes back to the city's citizens Friedrich and Karl Murhard, who donated their entire assets for the foundation of a citizens' library. It reflects the spirit of liberalism of its founders and fulfills an comprehensive function of information and education for the city and region of Kassel today.
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Even if the magnificent Willehalm Codex was commissioned by Landgrave Iron Henry already in 1334, there is no evidence for a systematic book acquisition by the Hessian landgrave until far into the 16th century.
Over the centuries, the collection building of the landgrave library mostly took place less through planned purchases and acquisitions but rather through the consequences of general historical developments and coincidences. The Thirty Years' War, for example, resulted in the rich collections of the printings and manuscripts of the prince's abbey Fulda being transported by landgrave troupes to Kassel in the course of the occupation and plundering of the city. In this way, the Hildebrandlied and the Kasseler Glossen , among others, as well as other remarkable codices from the Carolingian and Ottonic epoch found their way into the library.
After a few centuries, the exceptional manuscript and book collections of the Younger Palatina went to the electors. Thus, the book collection gained high-quality French and Italian manuscripts from the Renaissance period, such as the two richly illuminated Petrarca and Boccaccio Codices.
One of the most valuable and world-renowned collections of the library of Kassel also include the systematically structured music colletion of the Hofkapelle since the time of the landgrave Maurice the Learned (1592-1627), his outstanding collections of alchemical writings as well as the collection of his personal architectural drawings . One of the most prominent and most intensively researched estates of the special collections is that of the Münchhausen author Rudolf Erich Raspe, parts of the estate of the composer and conductor Louis Spohr as well as the estate of the universal scholar Hans-Jürgen von der Wense.
At the end of the 18th century, the landgrave book collections became so comprehensive that they were relocated to the Museum Fridericianum, which was newly built in 1779 under Landgrave Friedrich II. Here, the manuscripts, music supplies, maps and prints remained until the Fridericianum was destroyed in October 1941 by fire bombs in the war, during which 90% of historical and contemporary prints and maps of the Landesbibliothek were burnt out. The collections of the around 450 medieval and 10,000 modern manuscripts alone, the collection of autographs including roughly 30,000 works, several dozen estates as well as the collection of historical music supplies from the Hofkapelle including valuable Schütz autographies were almost entirely rescued since they were placed in a safe outbuilding.
Since the war, the historical collections were again complemented successfully by regular acquisitions and also the inclusion of special collections (collection Feldhaus) and by loans of Old Prints (collections of the Barons of Riedesel and the preacher's seminary Hofgeismar). These collections constitute the core collection of the Historical Heritage of the Landesbibliothek.
After most parts got lost in the Second World War, several hundred letters, books and graphs are now from the collections of the old Kasseler Grimm Collection of the Landesbibliothek. Apart from a re-acquired small part of the Grimm Collection, the collection includes about 310 letters of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm today. In addition, there are about 100 books from their prior possession and several hundred index cards from their time as librarians in the Kasseler Landesbibliothek.
Since 2010, the University Library of Kassel has been promoting the digitisation of its historical collections with high priority and makes the digitised sources of historic and cultural importance available, free of charge, to people throughout the world for private and scientific use. A special focus in this context is the provision of materials which are of particular importance with regard to the exploration of the cultural history of the landgraviate Hessen-Kassel.
The digital assets – primarily manuscripts, estates, photos, music supplies, magazines, monographies and maps – are presented via an online archive of the University of Kassel. The digitisation of the historical collections is oriented on the users' wishes and the priority list of the library to preserve the Historical Heritage.
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The primary aim of the Grimmiana project between the University Library of Kassel and the Hessian State Archive in Marburg is to make the collections from the estate of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm archived in Hessen more easily accessible to researchers. The cooperation of the two institutions, which have a considerable Grimm collection, was initiated on the 200th anniversary of the Children's and Household Tales in 2012. Within this project, particularly personal copies, reviews, letters and other handwritten documents were digitised.
With a further cooperation agreement in 2016, the already long-lasting collaboration of the university, the university library and the city of Kassel is officially sealed. Financial resources and professional expertise of different partners are specifically used for all facets related to the presentation and study of the life and work of the brothers Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm. In this way, it was, among others, possible to make valuable acquisitions and for the first time present the first editions of the Children's and Household Tales from 1812/15 and 1819/22, which are part of the UNESCO Memory of the World programme, online in a good quality.
Currently, more than 47,000 objects of the University Library of Kassel are available in the German Digital Library.
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