In Germany, library blogs (http://bibliothekarisch.de is listing them) are buzzing with talk of the Augsburg State and Municipal Library. The library is threatened with closing, its collection to be divided among other libraries.
The Augsburg State and Municipal Library is one of the oldest municipal research libraries. Founded in 1537, today it has a collection of c. 530,000 volumes. With over 3,600 manuscript volumes, including 1,000 medieval codices, 2,800 incunabula and roughly 100,000 titles pre-dating 1800, the library numbers among the largest Late Middle Ages/Early Modern collections in Germany. Within its function as a regional library, one of its main responsibilities is the collection and cataloging of literature on the region and its leading figures. The library is also affiliated with the Brecht-Haus and the Brecht Research Center.
The building in which the library is housed is in urgent need of renovation, but the city does not have the funds for this and the State of Bavaria does not wish to contribute what is needed. In general, the people of Augsburg are no longer satisfied with the agreement made between the city and the Free State of Bavaria in 1897: though a good portion of the library’s collection belongs to the Free State, Bavaria does not meet its share of the costs. And in these financially tight times, they no longer wish to. So now the state is contemplating whether to close the library and distribute its collection to other libraries. That part of the collection that belongs to the city of Augsburg will go to the Municipal Archives, and those volumes belonging to the Free State of Bavaria will go to the State University Libraries of Augsburg and Munich. Which, incidentally, are not enthusiastic about the move, as they have no room to house the extensive collection. In addition, with a large number of the books it is unclear who owns what. What is clear is that the majority of the collection belongs to the city, whereas the most important works of the collection belong to the state. This could mean that major works will leave Augsburg for Munich, which in turn would damage the reputation of Augsburg as a research center.
A closer look at the coverage gives the strong impression that this is about a political struggle between city and state. It can only be hoped that the library won’t end up as a victim of this struggle.
Augsburg City Library in 1623 (building at the left side)