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For bibliophiles new and old – public libraries, personal collections, and looted manuscripts

Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

“The first place I go in someone’s house is their bookshelves. You can tell exactly who they are.”

During World War II, the Nazis infamously stole and otherwise looted cultural treasures from private and public collections across Europe. Recently, however, the University of Bonn's State Library received a large collection of manuscripts and other works that had been lost (probably looted) during the war as well. The items came to public attention when they were listed for sale in Belgium.

Previous posts on this blog have celebrated some of the world’s most impressive historic libraries and architecturally resplendent commercial bookstores. Additionally, a recent news article also celebrates the personal collections of some well-known bibliophiles, representing more than appreciation for the printed word; they represent the personalities of the collector themselves. The article presents the views of several best-selling authors as well as those of the Librarian of Congress, who is in charge of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. (The 2008 photo above of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress by Carol M. Highsmith is in the public domain).

The Library of Congress recently announced plans to revamp its public mission to include more museum exhibits to attract more visitors – more tourists in addition to the researchers who mostly use the library. This plan is in growing recognition that many historic libraries have become popular tourist spots in their own rights. In addition, while many decry the closing of many private bookstores in the face of large box bookstores, which themselves have been closing down due to the popularity of online retailing of books, a number of historic bookstores are still popular around the world.


These Books Spark Joy

By Amanda Long

The Washington Post – Home & Design

April 8, 2019

Also see

Germany welcomes back priceless books lost in the second world war

By Kate Connolly

The Guardian

April 11, 2019

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