City Library (Lübeck)

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Library of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck
Logo City Library Lübeck.gif

founding 1619
Duration 974.801
Library type library
place Lübeck
Supralibros the library: sword and wheel (attribute of St. Catherine ), on a tape, which today in the library of the University of Pennsylvania is
Front building from 1926 (Photo: 2006)

The city ​​library in Lübeck (official name: Library of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck ) is a public and scientific library, as the latter also the main library for music of the state of Schleswig-Holstein . According to its own information, it is the richest existing library in Schleswig-Holstein .


The foundation goes back to a suggestion of the reformer Johannes Bugenhagen in his church ordinance of 1531, which was only taken up from 1616 by the mayor Alexander Lüneburg and the councilor Jürgen Pavels together with the superintendent Georg Stampelius and the rector of the Katharineum Johann Kirchmann . The holdings scattered in the city, such as the council library and the libraries of the churches and former monasteries (with the exception of the cathedral), were brought together in rooms of the former Katharinenkirche , which were accessible through the Katharinenkirche , and from 1619 onwards to the general public with one The dormitory of the former monastery with oak shelves was made accessible. The 61 carved coats of arms and name inscriptions from the council, clergy and school show that the library was a common cause of the secular and spiritual city authorities.

The holdings taken over in 1616

The history of the holdings of the council library taken over from the city library goes back to the time of the late Middle Ages. It is half from the extensive library of Lübeck Council Counsel Simon Batz (1420-1464), which took over the Lübeck advice of his death for an amount of 300 Rhenish guilders.

A remnant of 187 works from the former monastery library of St. Catherine's Monastery are part of the basic inventory of the city library. Their valuable parchment - codices had the rector Otto Walper , the predecessor Kirchmann, but can already sell to, to purchase from the proceeds of works for the college school, Bible editions and classics. These also became the founding inventory of the city library.

The expansion of the holdings after the library was founded

In 1624 the library received two large globes by the Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu and in 1668 two related programmatic paintings The Old Scholar and The Young Scholar by the brothers Johann Zacharias and Gottfried Kniller (today in the St. Annen Museum ).

Right from the start, the library enjoyed a large number of private donations and in 1754 already had over 9,000 volumes.

It experienced particularly large extensions in 1648 through the estate library of the polymath Joachim Morsius, which was bought by the council, and in 1692 through the Dornesche legacy of councilor Konrad von Dorne . In 1756 the library received the right to deposit copies for all works published in Lübeck.

Through the legacy of the preacher to St. Aegidien Heinrich Scharbau , in 1759 the city ​​library received not only endowment capital of 16,000 marks, but also 6,000 other volumes from his private library . These were set up in a separate room (the former meeting room of the consistory ) next to the library founding hall, which was named Scharbausaal in honor of Scharbau .

The city library in the 19th century

After the secularization of the cathedral chapter , in 1804 the cathedral library (130 manuscripts and 500 prints) was incorporated into the city library. Two years later, the library of the Michaelis Convent of the Sisters of Common Life ( Beguines ) , which had been transferred to the orphanage, was incorporated into the city library, which received a unique treasure trove of Middle Low German manuscripts from the 15th century. In 1817 the holdings were supplemented by the donation of a further 6,000 volumes in the private library of the cathedral provost Johann Carl Heinrich Dreyer (1723–1802). Since then, the focus on German and Lübeck history as well as German legal history has been recognized. In 1821 the library holdings already comprised around 35,000 volumes. Around 1830 Ernst Deecke created the library's first incunabulum catalog, paving the way for medieval research in the holdings. In 1862 the library received the Deeckes Lubecensien collection, as had the collection of the cantor and genealogist Johann Hermann Schnobel in 1851 .

Until 1903, the supervision of the library was part of a teacher from the Katharineum. In that year Carl Curtius (1841-1922), who had headed the library since 1879 in personal union with the "third professorship" at the Katharineum, was released from his teaching duties at the school. Curtius abolished the separation of the holdings into the Scharbauische Bibliothek ( Bibliotheca Scharbovia ) and the city library ( Bibliotheca Publica ) established in the Scharbau Testament of 1759 . This made it possible for the first time to carry out an extensive reorganization and cataloging, which took place at the end of the 19th century.

In 1879, in addition to the city library , which was developing into an archive library, a public library was created , initially as an association within the Society for the Promotion of Charitable Activities , then as an independent public library with several branches in the city districts.

Contemporary history

In 1923 the public library and reading room were transferred to state administration and became a department of the city library.

The Lübeck library suffered a setback, which already had supra-regional importance comparable to a state library when the National Socialists came to power. The director Willy Pieth was dismissed on July 1, 1933, as was his deputy Heinrich Schneider and Meta Corssen as head of the public library. In November, Nazi party comrade Gustav Struck became the new director , and the Nazis' interest insisted on weeding out "dangerous" writings and authors. After the British air raid on Lübeck's old town in 1942, the most important holdings (28,000 volumes) were moved to the Gröna salt mine near Bernburg (Saale) and the Plömnitz tunnel ( Preusslitz municipality , Salzlandkreis ) in Saxony-Anhalt , from where they were later called Looted art came to the USSR and was distributed to sub-republics. To date , 7,718 volumes have returned, mainly from Armenia and Georgia , while others are still open. Several incunabula, including at least one work from the earlier possession of Heinrich III. Bockholt , are now in the Tomsk University Library and have been digitized here.

After the war, the library struggled to rebuild its depleted holdings. After intensive discussion, it was decided in 1971 to merge the academic city library and the public library into one institution based on the model of the English public library . At the same time broke open access to one of the City Library Hannover acquired system, the previous number Currens - Magazining from. Another new building was completed in 1979 and the library was open to everyone. Partial contingents of the stocks from the CIS countries returned and the music department (partly in cooperation with the Lübeck University of Music ) developed an extensive program for the publication and performance of music from its extensive stock.

In 2007, Bernd Hatscher took over the management of the city library from Jörg Fligge . In 2017, Hatscher described the city library in a statement on the state library law as “a mixture of historical, public, scientific and former state library ... which is extremely unusual in terms of structure and content”.

Today's focus is the orientation towards the educational mandate, for example through the introduction of a spiral curriculum (step-by-step learning opportunities for preschool and school) or the offer of school-oriented teaching options. The media presentation and quality of stay must also be gradually improved over the next few years.

From May 2017 to May 2019, a project funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation will create a digital edition of unprinted manuscript descriptions from the early 20th century, which will enable the entire early modern manuscript inventory of the Lübeck City Library to be indexed using metadata available online.


Mantle hall

The city library is housed in an ensemble that is unique in Germany and combines parts of buildings from seven centuries. The medieval parts of the building of the old Katharinenkloster are used together with the Katharineum . The southern upper choir of the Katharinenkirche also belongs to the library. From 1994 to 2002 these rooms were completely restored. In the process, several layers of painting were uncovered in the Konsistorialsaal, which from 1760 served to accommodate the Scharbau library.

It was not until 1877, at the suggestion of the then library director, the historian Friedrich Wilhelm Mantels , that a first neo-Gothic new building was added to the Gothic monastery rooms, which provided both the school and the library with additional space. The hall on the upper floor of this building, now the Mantelssaal , was restored between 1992 and 1994 and set up as a gallery library.

These parts of the room are not visible from the entrance in Hundestrasse , because here in 1926, based on a design by Friedrich Wilhelm Virck, there was an extension to the street in the style of North German clinker expressionism with the magazine, which was a highly modern, self-supporting magazine system ( Lipman shelves , Wolf Netter system & Jacobi ) and a reading room was created. The frescoes in the reading room created by Erwin Bossanyi were painted over in 1937 as " Degenerate Art " and only exposed again in 1960, whereby at the artist's express request no restoration was carried out, but the frescos were preserved in their damaged condition. In 1992 the reading room was completely restored.

Fresco by Erwin Bossanyi in the reading room

In the course of the amalgamation of the city library and the public library and the required area expansion, the complex was expanded in 1979 with another new building in the style of the time and the expansion of the neighboring town houses Hundestr. 15 and 17 added.

Since the closure of the hospital on the Priwall in 2005, the city library has used two of the buildings as an external storage area for more than 590,000 volumes. After the plan for a new knowledge store as a joint storage facility for Lübeck's city ​​library, archive and museums failed, a small solution is to move the city library's storage facility to a rented building on the site of the former Lübeck mechanical engineering company at Einsiedelstraße 6 in 2020 .


Today the library has a rich range of media, a comprehensive library for children and young people, an increasing range of e-books, CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers (including all editions of the Lübecker Nachrichten since the end of the 18th century).

The total media inventory in 2019 was 974,801 with 973,996 loans (no comparison with previous years due to a change in servers, evaluation tools, changed license conditions, changes due to data protection regulations). The number of library uses was 982,709 in 2019 (no comparison with previous years).

You can read about the old holdings in the handbook of historical book holdings in Germany :

“With a total volume of around 1.16 million volumes, the historical inventory now includes 81,536 titles (in 1900 already 120,000 titles). Of these, 40 are incunabula (not counting the 45 incunabula fragments), 5,552 titles are from the 16th century, 10,879 to the 17th century, 15,223 to the 18th century and 49,842 to the 19th century. The largest group is the Theology with 15 percent of the total old stock, followed by history with 13 percent and law and classical philology with 12 percent each. These groups account for 52 percent of the ancient literature compared to only 7 percent for the natural sciences (excluding medicine) and technology. "

The holdings of manuscripts , with currently 1,710 pieces, are among the most important historical holdings in northern Germany. Of these, 363 codices come from the Middle Ages and 1347 from the early modern period.

Special collecting areas are the history and regional studies of Lübeck and the Hanseatic League .

School program brochures

Due to the close connection with the Katharineum, for which the city library also served as a school library until the 20th century , it has an extensive collection of school program brochures . The almost 40,000 copies have been cataloged since 2000 with the help of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and recorded in the journal database .

Music department

The music department is of supraregional importance with a rich old stock of music, which goes back to the 12th century through liturgical manuscripts. The city library owns a volume of cantatas by Dietrich Buxtehude as well as several evening music in autograph scores by Adolf Karl Kunzen . You shall keep the Hugo Distler -Archiv and (part of) the big discounts church musician Johann Georg Witt Hauer , Walter Kraft , Erwin Zillinger and January Bender , but also from the born in Lübeck opera composer Karl Grammann .

Family books and autographs

Of the record books kept in the city library (before relocation: 48; still or available again today: 11), the record book of David von Mandelsloh , which was calligraphic by the Oldenburg master scribe Johannes Kirchring (the elder), deserves special mention. The autograph collection of Joachim Morsius is similar to a family register with 779 entries and 113 portraits. Jacob von Melle had received it from his father-in-law Samuel Pomarius and handed it over to the Lübeck city library; he in turn added a triple register. The album Morsianum is considered one of the main sources for the pansophic movement of time.

Estates and collections

Schlözer cabinet, 1857

The city library also preserves the bequests of Friedrich Overbeck and Emanuel Geibel as well as collections donated by Karl von Schlözer and Carl Julius Milde . The pharmacist Eduard Geffcken gave in 1861 his extensive subject-related private library with his portrait collection. In 1897 Albert Kollmann donated 168 works in 181 volumes to the library from the estate library of his brother, the pastor Friedrich Ludwig Kollmann (1828-1896), who died in Lübeck in 1896.

Owning art and paintings

The extensive art holdings in this old library are not immediately apparent. A description by the library director at the time, Peter Karstedt , took up this topic as a task. Karstedt understood the “museum” field of activity to be the “obligation of the state and city libraries to attract regional, historical and personal information as an illustration of their cultural space.” In the case of the Lübeck city library, this includes valuable old holdings in historical surroundings from Frescoes and antique furnishings also her possession of art objects. This includes a large number of full-length portraits of the people who were important for the creation and development of the library: Rectors and professors of the Katharineum, members of the city council, city ​​physicians , superintendents of their church, later members of the clergy and scholars associated with the library .

Since the end of the 19th century, the city library has given a considerable part of these collections to other institutions in the Hanseatic City of Lübeck. The extensive collection of works by Friedrich Overbeck and Carl Julius Milde's self-portrait with Julius Oldach and Erwin Speckter went to the Behnhaus . The young scholar and the old scholar , the portrait of Jürgen Wullenwebers and the portrait of Count Egmont von Chasôt by Stefano Torelli came to the Museum am Dom (Lübeck) and are now St. Anne's Museum. Hans Kemmer's Hermann Bonnus on the Death Bed (1548) was added to the epitaph in the Marienkirche around 1917 and came with this to the St. Anne's Museum in 1947. The Egyptian mummy , which was transferred from the Ratsapotheke to the city library in 1811, also came to the Cathedral Museum in 1879 and has been part of the ethnological collection of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck since 1893 . Twelve of the portraits, councilors and mayors, came in 1890 in the Luebeck City Hall to the local mayor Gallery to complete. The municipal coin collection came into the care of the archive of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck in 1922 .

The still rich remainder relates more specifically to the history of the library itself. This includes, for example

  • the portrait of the reformer Johannes Bugenhagen
  • the portrait of the rector of the Katharineum Johannes Kirchmann postmortem 1648 by Zacharias Kniller
  • the portraits of the superintendents Hunnius, Stampelius and Pomarius
  • the portrait of Scharbau
  • Portraits of Johannes and Emanuel Geibel

Two of the portraits of the Stadtphysici, Johann Fitzmann and Johannes Nolto , are still in the library.


Jacob Kockert, portrait by Michael Conrad Hirt , 1644
Johann Daniel Overbeck
Friedrich Herrmann

After the death of Rector Kirchmann, the office of head of the city library was linked to a professorship at the Katharineum until 1903. The subrector was responsible for the library until the school reform in 1800/1801, then the third professor .

  • Georg Fink , provisional from March 13 to October 1933
  • Gustav Struck 1934–1940
  • Franz Weber 1940–1945, provisional management as deputy head
  • Peter Karstedt 1945–1971
  • Ewald Niemann 1945–1974, head of the public library (self-employment 1945–1973, further merger in 1973)
  • Klaus Bock 1971–1989, 1971–1973 consultant
  • Jörg Fligge 1990-2005
  • Bernd Hatscher 2007–

Working at the library:


  • Heinrich Christian Zietz : Views of the Free Hanseatic City of Lübeck and its surroundings , Frankfurt aM, 1822, p. 350 ff.
  • Johannes Baltzer , Friedrich Bruns , Hugo Rahtgens : The architectural and art monuments of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. Volume IV: The Monasteries. The town's smaller churches. The churches and chapels in the outskirts. Thinking and way crosses and the passion of Christ. Lübeck: Nöhring 1928, facsimile reprint 2001 ISBN 3-89557-168-7 , pp. 146-165
  • Isak Collijn : Lübeck early prints in the Lübeck city library. In: Journal of the Association for Lübeck History and Antiquity 9 (1907), 285–333
  • Willy Pieth (Ed.): Library and community spirit. The public library system of the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck . Lübeck: Otto Quitzow 1926
  • Paul Brockhaus : Hidden Treasures. In: Der Wagen 1958, pp. 75-103. (Overview of the art and paintings holdings of the city library with illustrations.)
  • Robert Schweitzer: The old and valuable holdings of the city library. Origin of the collection, history of relocation, importance of return. In: Der Wagen 1992, pp. 73–105 with appendix pp. 269–278 ( digitized version (PDF))
  • Library of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck: Library guide for the 375th anniversary . Lübeck 1997.
  • Jörg Fligge / Robert Schweitzer, Back from Georgia . In: Bibliotheksdienst 31 (1997) ( PDF file; 440 KB ( Memento from June 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ))
  • Jörg Fligge: The Lübeck City Library 1990 to 2005. A report . In: Der Wagen 2006, pp. 73-109 ISBN 978-3-87302-110-5
  • Jörg Fligge: Lübeck schools in the "Third Reich": a study on the education system during the Nazi era in the context of developments in the Reich area , Schmidt-Römhild, Lübeck 2014, p. 364 ff.


  • Carl Stiehl : Catalog of the music collection at the Lübeck city library . In: Invitation to the public exams and speech exercises of the students of the Katharineum in Lübeck arranged on the ... Borchers, Lübeck 1893, pp. [1] - [60] ( digitized version )
  • Paul Hagen : The German theological manuscripts of the Lübeck city library. Lübeck: Schmidt-Römhild 1922 (Publications of the City Library of the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck 1,2)
  • Paul Hagen: Friedrich Overbeck's handwritten estate in the Lübeck city library. Lübeck: Schmidt-Römhild 1926 ( Publications of the City Library of the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck , 2)

Web links

Commons : Library of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Historical holdings , accessed on July 1, 2013
  2. Manfred Eickhölter: Sources on the history of the origins of the Lübeck city library, first library sponsors and early book gifts . In: Jörg Fligge, Peter Borchardt (Hrsg.): The scientific city library and the development of communal library structures in Europe since 1945 . Wiesbaden 2000, pp. 259-289.
  3. Robert Schweitzer / Ulrich Simon: Boeke, gude unde böse - The library of the Lübeck syndic Simon Batz von Homburg: attempted reconstruction based on his will and the evidence from the former holdings of the council library in the Lübeck city library . In: The memory of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck: Festschrift for Antjekathrin Graßmann on the 65th birthday. In connection with the Association for Lübeck History and Archeology and the Hanseatic History Association ed. by Rolf Hammel-Kiesow and Michael Hundt. Lübeck, Schmidt-Römhild , 2005. ISBN 3-7950-5555-5 , p. 127ff
  4. Listed in Johann Kirchmann's access book to the city library until 1641 , digitized version , Lübeck city library , pp. 91–104: Catalogus librorum ex veteri bibliotheca Cathariniana novam bibliothecam translatorum
  5. Listed in Johann Kirchmann's access book of the city library up to 1641 , digitized version , Lübeck city library , from p. 105: Catalogus librorum quos D. Ottho Gualperius Rector scholae pecunia ex divenditis Codicis Bibliothecae Catharinianae membranaceis confecta in usum Collegarum olim comparavit.
  6. offsite storage Grona at Lost Art
  7. offsite storage Plömnitz at Lost Art
  8. Note: A corresponding fate suffered a third of the holdings of the Butendach library of the Reformed Congregation
  9. ^ Incunabula of Tomsk University Library in Siberia , blog entry on Archivalia from June 16, 2017, accessed on June 16, 2017
  10. ^ Klaus Bock : The Lübeck libraries. In: Der Wagen 1976, pp. 123-131
  11. Else Maria Wischermann, Heinz-Jürgen Lorenzen, Bernd Hatscher: “If love reigned on earth, all laws would be dispensable.” “If love ruled the earth there would be no need for laws.” The “Law for Libraries in Schleswig-Holstein and the amendment of the State Press Act “1 from the point of view of the Kiel University Library, the Schleswig-Holstein library e. V. and the library of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck. In: Library Service 2017; 51 (1), pp. 49–64, here p. 61 ( digital version (PDF)
  12. ^ Conversion of handwritten manuscript catalogs from the Lübeck City Library. HAB Wolfenbüttel , accessed on June 12, 2018 .
  13. Selection according to project: Conversion of handwritten manuscript catalogs of the Lübeck City Library (495 Hss.). HAB Wolfenbüttel , accessed on June 12, 2018 .
  14. ↑ The City Library is well prepared for the future , press release of January 8, 2020, accessed on January 11, 2020
  15. ↑ Goodbye knowledge storage: Old library books move to Roddenkoppel , Lübecker Nachrichten of September 6, 2019, accessed on January 11, 2020
  16. , accessed on March 9, 2020
  17. The union catalog of incunabula recorded 2015 263 Inkunabeldrucke; According to the handwritten catalogs of the Lübeck City Library before the Second World War, the total incunabula inventory was 1046 prints see Fabian Handbuch der Historische Buchbestände, 2.62
  18. Handbook of Historical Book Holdings in Germany, p. 119. ( online )
  19. Conversion of handwritten manuscript catalogs of the Lübeck City Library , accessed on June 19, 2018
  20. After being returned to the heirs, part of the archive was donated to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in August 2010 : Information from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek from ( memorial of December 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), Hugo Distler estate .
  21. ^ To: Back from Armenia. Treasures from Lübecke's founding years. Brochure for the exhibition from June 1 to July 9, 1999, City Library 1999 (Publications of the City Library Lübeck. Third series, Volume 3), 32
  22. Willibald Leo von Lütgendorff-Leinburg (ed.): Das Stammbuch Davids v. Mandelsloh. A contribution to the nobility history of the 17th century. Publishing house and printing company A.-G. (formerly JF Richter), Hamburg 1893. Digitized ; Today's signature: Ms. hist. 8 ° 24
  23. Ms. hist. 8 ° 25, 1–5 (earlier signature Ms. 4 ° 61 a-e), see Rudolf Kayser: Joachim Morsius. In: Spiritual Culture. 6 (1897), pp. 307-319 ( digitized version ), here p. 310, and Max Seiffert : Das Album Morsianum , in Zeitschrift der Internationale Musikgesellschaft 1 (1899), p. 28f ( digitized version ).
  24. Will-Erich Peuckert : The Rosencreutz. Berlin: E. Schmidt 1973, ISBN 3-503-00573-0 , p. 212
  25. ^ For example, the letter from Karl Ludwig Roeck to Overbeck, as a full text in the Wikisource project, see s: Karl Ludwig Roeck to Friedrich Overbeck, 1810 .
  26. Administrative report 1897, p. 2
  27. ^ The museum moment in the Lübeck City Library. in fixed number of the Lübeckische Blätter for the 47th German Librarianship in June 1957 in Lübeck.
  28. Quoted from Paul Brockhaus: Verborgene Schätze, p. 75 (76. ff.).
  29. ^ Jan Friedrich Richter (ed.): Lübeck 1500 - Art metropolis in the Baltic Sea region. Catalog, Imhoff, Petersberg 2015 ISBN 978-3-7319-0175-4 , No. 71, p. 366f
  30. Ursula Buske: The old Egyptian mummy worth considering . In: Journal of the Association for Lübeck History and Antiquity (ZVLGA) 74 (1994), pp. 95-101
  31. Johannes Baltzer , Friedrich Bruns , Hugo Rahtgens : The architectural and art monuments of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. Volume IV: The Monasteries. The town's smaller churches. The churches and chapels in the outskirts. Think - and way crosses and the Passion of Christ . Nöhring, Lübeck 1928. Facsimile reprint 2001, ISBN 3-89557-168-7 , p. 161
  32. Dieter Dummler: The coin collection of the imperial and Hanseatic city of Lübeck (= trade, money and politics , issue 12). Lübeck 2012, ISBN 978-3-7950-4511-1
  33. Further references with images from Paul Brockhaus: Hidden Treasures.
  34. Names and dates mainly based on Pieth: Bücherei und Gemeinschaftinn , p. 170

Coordinates: 53 ° 52 ′ 6.6 "  N , 10 ° 41 ′ 21.8"  E