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Cataloguing one of the most important German church libraries

On 1 May, the online cataloguing of one of the most important historical church libraries in the Federal Republic of Germany begins at the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt: the historical collections of the library of the Protestant ministry in Erfurt. In collaboration between the Gotha Research Library of the University of Erfurt and the archive and library of the Protestant Church in Central Germany (EKM), around 8,500 printed books from the 15th to 18th centuries are to be catalogued nationally over the next three years. The project is unique within the Protestant regional churches in Germany.

Augustinian monastery in Erfurt
Augustinian monastery in Erfurt

Special attention is being paid to the previous owners of the books from five centuries, known as provenance cataloguing. In a further step, around 400 unique prints and 97 medieval and early modern manuscripts will be digitised and made accessible to the public in the Digital Archive of Non-State Archives in Thuringia (DANA).

"The cooperation project is intended to help raise awareness among researchers and the public of the historical book collections preserved in church libraries in Germany," emphasises Christina Neuß, Head of the EKM Archive and Library. The project is being carried out in close cooperation with the Thuringian University and State Library in Jena and the church district of Erfurt and is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with around 380,000 euros, she reports.

Matthias Rein, Senior of the Erfurt church district, commented on the project: "The Erfurt Protestant Ministry (effectively the parish council in the church district) and the Erfurt church district as the owner of the historical library are extremely pleased that the long efforts to obtain funding for the cataloguing and digitisation of the library's holdings have been successful and that the actual work is now beginning. We will follow the progress and results of the work with great interest".

Background to the Library of the Protestant Ministry in Erfurt:
In 1646, the Lutheran pastors of Erfurt founded a book collection with the help of the Protestant councillors and wealthy Protestant inhabitants of the city, which was given the name "Library of the Protestant Ministry" and set up in the Augustinian monastery. Due to a lack of financial resources, the library had to rely not only on the mandatory book donations made by pastors when they took up their duties, but also on the support of charitable patrons and donors. Starting with just 40 books, the ministerial library grew over the centuries to become one of the largest ecclesiastical libraries in Germany. Today it comprises around 60,000 volumes from eight centuries, including a collection of 14,000 manuscripts and prints from before 1850. The holdings are of interest to both local and national historical research and are an invaluable cultural asset in Thuringia's state capital.

The EKM also has 1,000 locations with historical manuscript and book collections in church ownership, which are to be secured, catalogued and made accessible within the next ten years as part of a state church project. The books are to be nationally indexed in the union catalogue K10plus and in the national bibliographic indexes of printed works published in the German-speaking world (VD16, VD17 and VD18).

further information / contact:

Head of Collection Development and Cataloging
(Gotha Research Library)
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha (Gotha, Schlossplatz 1)
Office hours
on appointment
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