ISIL <36 a>
Library of the City of Mainz
Function. Specialized library, publicly accessible.
Areas of collection. History of printing and writing, book science.
Availability for users. Reference library. – Opening hours: Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m.-1.00 p.m. and 2:00-4:30 p.m. (on demand until 5:30 p.m.). Inter-library loan: DLV.
Technical devices for library users. Copying machine, internet access, book scanner, microfiche reader, laptop workplace.
Information for those who want to visit the Library. Visitors should give notice of their intended visit by phone or in written form. – Within walking distance from central railway station (about 15 minutes). Bus routes from central railway station (all bus routes leading to the “Höfchen” bus stop). – Multi-storey car parks nearby.
1 - History
The founding document of the Gutenberg-Museum of 1900 already mentioned a library in connection with the Museum. The idea was that this library should collect works about the history of printing, and this collection was intended to be as comprehensive as possible.
The third paragraph says: “The Gutenberg-Museum has to be complemented by a Gutenberg Library designated for public use. The Library should hold available, as completely as possible, all works about the history of the art of printing and the spread and development of this art.”
The first works of the Library had either been donated to the Library on the occasion of the festivities in 1900 or they consisted of literature which came from the Mainz City Library. Both Mainz Municipal Library and Gutenberg-Museum with its newly established Library were located in a few rooms of the Electoral Palace [Kurfürstliches Schloss]. It was a decisive step for the further development of the Gutenberg Library that it received its own budget within the special funds for the Gutenberg-Museum which the Mainz Municipal Administration put at the Library’s disposal within the scope of the Mainz City Library.
In 1912, the Gutenberg Library moved, together with the Mainz City Library, to an imposing new building in Rhine Avenue [Rheinallee].
The Museum’s 25th anniversary prompted the City of Mainz to establish new rooms for the Gutenberg-Museum.
Since the increasing collections and visitors of the Gutenberg-Museum required that the Museum had its own facilities, the City of Mainz acquired a patrician house called “Roman Emperor” for the Museum. The Renaissance house, which had been built in the second half of the 17th century, originally belonged to the merchant Edmund Rokoch. After the building had been converted into an inn some time later, Voltaire, Goethe and Mozart counted among its visitors. Finally, on May 12th, 1927, the “Roman Emperor” was committed to the Gutenberg-Museum after it had been completely renovated.
The former library room, which had been too small for a long time, was abandoned, and the books put into the stack-room of the City Library as it had been partly done before. So the Gutenberg Library was no longer visible at first glance, but its books and other works were still listed separately by the City Library. Without the assistance of the City Library whose employees were mainly responsible for the cataloguing of the Museum’s books it would not have been possible to handle the library stock in an appropriate way. The Gutenberg-Museum had seen a steady increase in books; however, there was not sufficient museum staff at its disposal.
The organization of the Gutenberg Library hardly changed in the 1930s. The City Library still saw to a great extent to the cataloguing of the library stock.
The Second World War caused a standstill in all cultural fields of Germany which also affected the Museum and the Library. Today it is difficult to find out to which extent the Library complied with the National Socialist zeitgeist by gathering works of “National Socialist printing art”.
On February 27th, 1945, shortly before the end of the war, the building called “Roman Emperor” was hit by bombs. Thereby the ground floor and first floor burnt out; the following two floors were destroyed and with them several exhibits. Fortunately the most important items had been transported to another place in Germany so that on the whole neither the City Library nor the Gutenberg Library had to suffer considerable losses during all bombings of Mainz. After the end of the war, one started to recover the books and get them back, among them the Gutenberg Bible.
After the war, the Gutenberg Library was confronted with another task when the newly established Mainz University founded a Gutenberg Chair in the field of book science and printing. So the students required material for their studies and books which were in short supply during the first years of the University. There was not any institute at the Mainz University which could provide such a rich stock of corresponding material and books like the Gutenberg Library. Some experts even used to say that the establishment of the university chair had only been possible because of the Gutenberg Library.
The first visible change was the establishment of a seminar room with a reference library consisting of books and works of the Gutenberg Library. Another step forward was taken when a small additional budget for books was created from the funds of the Gutenberg Chair.
But it was only after the opening of the new building of the Gutenberg-Museum in 1962 that the Gutenberg Library was in a position to gain the real status of a museum library which it was meant to have in 1900. In the new edifice, the Gutenberg-Library got its own stack-rooms and a reading room. From then on the Gutenberg Library and the City Library became two separate institutions. The separation was not always an easy process because both institutions had been very closely connected over the preceding 60 years. For instance, the alphabetical catalogue cards had to be carefully taken out of the general catalogue of the City Library.
Up until the 1990s, the Gutenberg Library aimed to keep up with the card catalogues and so to comply with the needs of its visitors. When EDP found its way into the Library since the mid-1990s, the Gutenberg Library had to confront a lot of crucial challenges. From 2000 onwards, after some problems in the field of registration and subject cataloguing, the Gutenberg Library was able to break new ground with new ideas and an improved service- and visitor-oriented concept. Furthermore the Gutenberg Library got an additional stack-room under the Museum’s courtyard.
The indexing and registration of new books as well as of those which had not yet been registered progressed enormously by means of the possibilities which the Internet offered. An essential part of this work was the digitization of all inventory catalogues. This digitization, which shows worldwide the Library’s collection, was carried out in 2005, and in fact the Library’s own website (www.gutenberg-bibliothek.de) becomes increasingly the actual portal of the Library’s users, the number of which had already multiplied tenfold via the Internet over the first year.
The presentation of specific collections by separate databases, such as the incunabula database, the small database of book bindings or the catalogue of the Mori Collection, which must be browsed through separately (and there is more to come), help to ensure that the Library’s service for its users continues to have top priority just like it has already been the case in the first century of the Library’s existence.
2 – Library Stock
The books of the Library and those of the Museum form a whole. Therefore all books which are available at the Library could also be presented at the Museum’s exhibition building some day. This is due to the fact that a museum relating to books and the art of printing must be able to show and present its focus of interest, namely the book, from very different points of view.
On the one hand, the original stock of the Library (and consequently of the Museum) consists of reading material from the Mainz Public Library dealing with books and the art of printing. On the other hand, it comprises private donations and endowments which were realized on the occasion of the Museum‘s foundation in 1900.
Thanks to some citizens of Mainz and their civic spirit the Gutenberg-Museum received a couple of little donations. All these people wanted to express their close connection to the Gutenberg-Museum and its objectives by presenting it with one or several books. But also larger numbers of books, whole libraries or book collections were given to the Museum and its Library, and they all contributed to the ever-increasing popularity of both.
Among the exhibits which are registered at the Library and can be put at the Museum’s disposal on the occasion of exhibitions there are outstanding presents and important testamentary gifts.
So the Museum got a collection of “missionary prints” in about 1935. In 1954, the Museum received a complete collection of works which had been printed at the Kelmscott Press from the Mainz factory owner Karl Theodor Wunderle. In 1962, a part of the book collection of the Frankfurt type founder and researcher Gustav Mori as well as several pieces of the Blanckertz Collection could be integrated. In 1969, parts of the collection of the Stuttgart publisher Max Hettler were to follow. In the early 1980s, print products from the collection of Helmut Goedeckenmeyer covering the Art Nouveau movement and the expressionist period could be obtained, and in 1985, the Gutenberg-Museum and its Library were presented with several East Asian prints, which had been collected by Dr. Ulrich Kritter. Not so long ago (in 2001), the collections of the Museum and Library could be enriched by the Archives of Werner Rebhuhn’s works.
Other focuses of interest and important parts of the collections are incunabula, prints by private presses, artists’ books, and type specimens.
The secondary literature has mainly been acquired by internal financing and the available financial means of the Library’s budget. Several small and big donations of books have helped a lot to have the most important literature about the Museum’s main collections and the history of writing, printing and book production on hand. In this connection, the financial support of the International Gutenberg Society is particularly noteworthy. For many years, the Gutenberg Society has allowed for the acquisition of significant works about the Museum’s fields of interest.