Reconstructions of scholarly libraries are eminently enlightening for those seeking to discover more about the history of knowledge, ideas, books and individuals as well as for those conducting research on collections.

In order to catalogue the contents of a private library in depth, the historical ownership of a book has to be reconstructed via information about its provenance or indirectly established from the bibliographical details in catalogues. Particularly relevant examples are selected and catalogued from among the many book auction lists and inventories held by the Herzog August Bibliothek. The goal was to reconstruct and present in digital form selected scholarly libraries and findings on historical knowledge, collection and communication practices, media systems and networks of scholars.

By 2018, the library of millenarian Benedikt Bahnsen (d. 1669) had already been catalogued in depth, with work on a digital edition of the correspondence between Bahnsen and Duke August the Younger at an advanced stage. A start had also been made on a repository of heterogenous sources related to architectural theorist Leonhard Christoph Sturm (1669−1719).

LibReTo is a visualisation tool developed by Hartmut Beyer specifically for the project, making it easier to present collections online in a structured form facilitating research.

Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF) within the framework of the Marbach-Weimar-Wolfenbüttel Research Association (MWW)
Duration: April 2014 – December 2018
Project participant: Dr Jörn Münkner (team member)