22 February 2022
The anniversary year will kick off with an official ceremony on 5 April to which distinguished politicians, social figures and scholars have been invited.
Here at HAB we are delighted that the historian and author Professor Ulrich Raulff is set to be the keynote speaker for this event. He was features editor of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, senior editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and director of the Deutsches Literaturarchiv (German Literature Archive) in Marbach before becoming president of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute of Foreign Affairs, ifa) in 2018. His research focuses on the history of ideas and culture from the 18th century through to the present day. As a scholar with a particular interest in libraries as the focus of research, he has always been closely associated with the HAB. Together with Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer and Hellmut Seemann he founded the Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte as a journal for the history of ideas. Raulff has been a member of the board of trustees of the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel since 2020.
The celebrations will include the opening of a major special exhibition on the history of knowledge and the culture of books.
We Make Books is the title of the exhibition which will be presented in the Bibliotheca Augusta from 5 April onwards. After an introduction to the library’s history, the section ‘The tasks of the library’ explains how new books were produced from the existing holdings of the library: not only scholarly treatises and scientific studies but also novels, catalogues, facsimiles and special editions – both printed and digital. The third section of the exhibition gives visitors a glimpse into the ‘treasury and cabinet of curiosities’, which contains particularly valuable pieces from the holdings as well as a number of curiosities. Visitors will be able to see the Gospel Book of Henry the Lion and Matilda of England here for the first time in six years. The fourth section of the exhibition presents ‘the library in books’: the library in Wolfenbüttel has itself been the subject of a wide range of publications over the past four hundred years. The focus of the fifth section is on artists’ reactions to old books: the library has an extensive collection of artist’s books, and those with a direct connection to works in the library are shown here. Visitors can also get reacquainted with immortal Baroque figures such as Simplicissimus and Don Quixote. We Make Books is a very special exhibition showing that the library has always been a dynamic setting where new things are created.
Special-edition postage stamp
Here’s a call-out to all philatelists! Each year, the Federal Ministry of Finance issues around fifty special-edition postage stamps on a wide range of subjects, under the general motto of ‘big issues in a little space’.
This year the Herzog August Bibliothek is one of those selected. The postage stamp, bearing a nominal value of 190 cents, will be presented on 28 April at the Herzog August Bibliothek. That’s the perfect opportunity for anyone who would like to secure a first-day cover.
There’s something we want to tell you – and it’s coming up soon on all the usual podcast platforms. That’s when ‘HAB gehört’ will be launched as the podcast (in German) of the Herzog August Bibliothek! The HAB has many faces – both literally and metaphorically. In this anniversary year ‘HAB gehört’ provides an opportunity for those faces to have their say, giving you an idea about just how diverse the HAB’s activities are. The first episode will feature Professor Peter Burschel, the library’s director. He’ll be talking about what exactly was going on 450 years ago and take us through the history of the HAB right through to the present day.
The HAB’s milestone birthday is a welcome spur for various publications that are set to come out in 2022.
Peter Burschel’s Die Herzog August Bibliothek: Eine Geschichte in Büchern (published by Insel-Verlag) is already available: it tells the story of the Wolfenbüttel library and explains the influence of individual works on entire collections. An anthology is also currently being prepared for publication on the history of collecting at the HAB, and a second book will present the collection of artist’s books.
The design of the latter is going to be aesthetically pleasing for those who want to enjoy finding out more about the HAB’s collection of artist’s books. The book will give an overview of the collection by focusing on a cross section of recent purchases, but it will also identify thematic approaches and developments in the artist’s book as a genre in order to illustrate what has remained constant about the HAB’s acquisition policy.
The book telling the story of the HAB focuses on the collections from the 16th to 20th centuries, which together comprise the holdings of the library in Wolfenbüttel. Assorted introductory sections present individual libraries and groups of holdings as a whole, such as the chapters on the Bibliotheca Augusta and on the library at the university of Helmstedt. These are supplemented by various shorter chapters on individual aspects of the library’s history, each of which is assigned to one of the groups of holdings. All the articles ask the same questions about specific connections to the collection. How is the thing that has been collected a part of the library? To what extent is the library a strategy for dealing with the unsystematic collection of books and objects? What does ‘collection’ mean in general, and here more specifically?
On 2 July we will be throwing open our doors and inviting you all to find out more about the library. The programme is going to be varied in the extreme, including a presentation, in a public history format, of the history of libraries from a gender-specific angle. Guided by Professor Ulrike Gleixner, students at the TU Berlin will present five private libraries owned by princesses and princes from the 16th to 18th centuries, demonstrating that royal women as well as men collected books in the early modern era. On top of that there will be tours and workshops for children and adults.
In addition to these information-driven events, we will of course also be looking forward to entertaining aspects of the programme such as live music and a whole lot of birthday cake! So come to Wolfenbüttel and celebrate with us. You can’t turn down an invitation like that – after all, you’re only 450 once!