Protest letter from IFLA RareBooks and Manuscripts Committee

To
Ministerpräsident
Günther H. Oettinger
Villa Reitzenstein
Richard-Wagner-Strasse
70184 Stuttgart

Den Haag, October 10, 2006

Dear Ministerpräsident Oettinger,

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Committee of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions is deeply concerned about the proposed sale of manuscripts from the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe.

As custodians of historical book and manuscript collections, we know that the manuscript collections of the Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe constitute a unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage of high international importance. Most of the manuscripts come from monasteries in South West Germany and date back as far as the high Middle Ages. Thus, they reflect the diverse history and traditions of a region, which has for centuries been an area of cultural exchange across borders. It is by no means only their relation to regional history, which is of scholarly importance. Quite the contrary, manuscripts in any language and on any subject reflect the wide scope of interests and knowledge, which were held in your country in the past.

A sale of the manuscripts would result in the breaking up of these historic collections and in their dispersal to many different owners, both public and private, in many different countries. The manuscripts would be alienated from their historical and literary context, which is reflected by each monastic collection as a whole. Many of the books would end up in private ownership and thus be inaccessible to academic research. The considerable sums invested in the preservation and cataloguing of the collection, both by your state and funding agencies such as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, would be lost.

As librarians in charge of digitization projects, we are aware that photographic reproductions of manuscripts are not sufficient replacements for the originals, as scholars analyze not only the contents, but also the material features of manuscripts, ranging from the parchment or paper written on over pigments used for writing and painting to evidence for former use on bindings. Continuing access to the originals is therefore of prime importance. This is best ensured if the manuscripts stay in the region where they were produced, preserved and used up to now.
Therefore, as representatives of the international rare books and manuscripts community, we urge you to prevent the sale and dispersal of this important part of German cultural heritage.

Sincerely yours,

Members and associates of the IFLA Rare Books and Manuscripts Committee

Susan M. Allen, Chair, USA
Jan Bos, Secretary, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Netherlands

María Cristina Guillén Bermejo, Biblioteca Nacional, Spain
Jos Biemans, Amsterdam University Library, The Netherlands
Ivan Boserup, Royal Library, Danmark
Luisa Buson, Italy
Pearce Carefoot, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Canada
Xiaolan Cheng, Zhejiang Provincial Library, China
Anne Christophe, Sorbonne, France
Björn Dal, Lund University Library, Sweden
Elisabeth Eide, Norway
Joana Escobedo, Biblioteca de Catalunya, Spain
Viveca Halldin Norberg, Uppsala University Library, Sweden
Sirkka Havu, National Library, Finland
Barbara Jones, Wesleyan University, USA
Marie Korey, Canada
Richard Landon, University of Toronto, Canada
Hélène Larcher, ENC, France
Fabienne Le-Bars, Bibliothèque Nationale, France
Hye-Eun Lee, National Library, Korea
Regina Mahlke, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Germany
Rémi Mathis, École des Chartes, France
Fabrice Maurin, Sorbonne, France
John C. Meriton, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom
Francesca Niutta, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Italy
Anna Perälä, Svenska Litteratursällskapets Bibliotek, Finland
Alice Prochaska, Yale University Library, USA
Marcia Reed, USA
Henry Snyder, USA
Peter Springborg, University of Copenhagen, Danmark
Andrew Stephenson, University of Melbourne, Australia
Bettina Wagner, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Germany
Jutta Weber, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Germany
Lin Zuzao, Zhejiang Provincial Library, China


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