Protest letter from the Consortium of European Research Libraries

9 October 2006
Ministerpräsident Günther H. Oettinger
Villa Reitzenstein
Richard-Wagner-Strasse
70184 STUTTGART
Germany

Dear Sir

BADISCHE LANDESBIBLIOTHEK, KARLSRUHE: PROPOSED SALE OF MANUSCRIPTS

The Consortium of European Research Libraries comprises Europe’s major research libraries, which work actively together, with the strong encouragement of scholars, to promote access to the contents of Europe’s rich historical collections.

I am writing on behalf of the members of the Consortium to express deep concern about the recent news of the proposed sale of manuscripts from the collections of the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe. We respectfully urge you to reconsider this decision in the long-term interests of scholarship and the healthy sustenance of Europe’s long and important cultural heritage.

The manuscripts collection in the Badische Landesbibliothek is of unique historical importance to the whole of Europe and the wider world. Its contents have been available for consultation by scholars and researchers up to the present. To sell the collection now would inevitably lead to its fragmentation and dispersal with consequent loss of access for public consultation. Made available on the open market, books disappear into private hands and may remain inaccessible for hundreds of years, if not for all time. Once dispersed, the collection in the Badische Landesbibliothek can never be recreated.

From a scholarly point of view, so relatively little still is known and understood about the detail of the history of our European continent, and about the dissemination of ideas, that it is absolutely vital for us to retain in public collections as much as possible of the evidence that has come down to us in order to aid and assist future research and understanding

We do strongly encourage you, taking a long-term view, to seek a solution which will enable the collection to be retained in the public domain, open and accessible to scholars, and to ensure its integrity as an immeasurably valuable and abiding part of Germany’s cultural past and that of the wider Europe.

Yours sincerely

(Dr) Ann Matheson
Chairman
Consortium of European Research Libraries


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