Duchess Anna Amalia Library


Collecting - Researching - Knowing

3 - 5 May 2017

The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek and the MWW Research Association jointly hosted the colloquium Collecting - Researching - Knowing which explored perspectives of studying, investigating and presenting collection in two sections.

Based on examples of individual specimens and collections, the section titled "Knowledge of Collections" examined the theoretical and practical challenges of studying and presenting the structural, thematic, social and historical dimensions of collections. The second section "Researching in Collections" highlighted several projects by the MWW Research Association which are applying research methods that increasingly emphasise collection dynamics, contexts and practices.

Conference flyer


The Future of Collecting at Research Libraries

26-27 April 2016

For centuries the size and sophistication of a library’s collection served as the benchmark of its reputation. “Collection building” was arguably a research librarian’s noblest task. Today, in view of the ubiquity of digital publications, it has become necessary to redefine the library’s task of collecting. Does the concept of collecting in the digital age make sense anymore? Is conservatory collecting still a task that libraries should pursue, and if so, what does it involve? How are the responsibilities of libraries changing?

Conference flyer

Conference report


Digital Conservation – Safeguarding and Identifying Severely Damaged Documents

7 November 2013

Following the devastating fire on 2 September 2004, the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek decided to not only preserve the bulk of damaged originals through restoration measures, but also to make better use of digitalisation in order to safeguard and provide access to some 4,000 heavily damaged works – the so-called Weimar “ash books”. Midway through the five-year project, sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, the library presented an interim report of its progress. The colloquium highlighted the specific demands of collection preservation following destructive events and the possibilities of digital presentation and augmentation of badly damaged documents. In the two panels “Aspects of Digital Preservation” and “New Methods of Identification and Reconstruction”, experts discussed a variety of measures, working processes and technical concepts. The new methods of virtual reconstruction and re-contextualisation were discussed together with representatives from the Historical Archive of Cologne and the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former GDR.

Conference report in the journal Archivar, iss. 66, H. 3 (2013) pp. 334-337

Colloquium papers


“Coping with the Mass” – Leather Binding Restoration after the Fire at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek

24 September 2011

The fire that ravaged the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek on 2 September 2004 resulted in 62,000 books damaged by fire, heat and extinguishing water, while another 50,000 books were lost to the flames. Almost 20,000 volumes had to undergo more or less extensive restoration, among which were 7,500 leather-bound works spanning five centuries. In order to restore such a large mass of historically significant books, conservators had to develop innovative measures and methods, which were presented during this colloquium.

Colloquium papers


Academic librarians in the era of National Socialism – activities, continuities, patterns of interpretation

A conference organised by the Wolfenbüttel Study Group for Library, Book and Media History in cooperation with the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek.

7–9 December 2009

Since the 1980s, various studies have revealed the influence of National Socialism on the libraries and the personal entanglement of prominent librarians in the injustice of this system. Since then, new insights have been gained which justify the organisation of a conference with the express aim of shedding light on the behaviour of individual leading figures in the field of research librarianship.

The thoughts and actions of those members of the profession who were critical of the regime or who were non-political followers have by no means been exhaustively explored.

Against a backdrop of biographies by librarians with obvious National Socialist leanings, the conference aims to shed light on those in this profession who were able to continue their careers after 1945: what scope of action did they have? What were the intellectual and scientific conditions which enabled them to keep their distance from the scientific system under the National Socialists? Did they see the new regime as a categorical break with their own values and systems of order?

Did their activities conform with or deviate from the professional image of the librarian as previously formulated in 1933 by Fritz Milkau? What did these librarians do differently from those of their colleagues who subscribed to NS ideologies? Or were they merely clever in surviving the de-Nazification process? How do the persons concerned interpret their own biographies?

The historical and biographical approach of this conference still appears to be essential for the long history of librarianship to be able to link the history of the mentality, ideas and institutions of that time. Ultimately, discussion of the behaviour of individual members of this profession culminates in the issue of professional ethics in librarianship and the ever-topical question: what are the norms and values which librarians see themselves as bound by?


The pathways to culture – disabled access to libraries and museums.
Seminar of the Conference of National Cultural Institutions

1-3 October 2009

Access for disabled is not yet standardised in German museums and libraries today. Often it is constructional barriers which make access to the institutions difficult; however, technical obstacles can also restrict access to information, e.g. in the catalogues and internet. Therefore, it is only rarely that people with disabilities can enjoy free access to the collections and services of the libraries and museums. Experience has shown that buildings and information systems designed with disabled access benefit all users and visitors. Ramps and lifting platforms, automatic doors, simple, clearly structured websites and forms, auditory and tactile stations in exhibitions and texts in simple language are examples of types of access focusing on the users – whether with or without disability. In this way, informational and educational services can be better used and obstacles to research are removed.

The seminar held by the Conference of National Cultural Institutions aims to provide basic information on disabled access including explanations of legal requirements, recommendations for opening up disabled access in new and converted buildings and the design of exhibitions and websites suitable for the disabled.

Moreover, opportunities will be provided for detailed presentations and discussions of the latest research on the subject of disability – e.g. in the fields of disability studies, education and social and medical history. The objective is to question current ideas of disability and obstacles as well as to find ways to improve the situation in libraries and museums.

This interdisciplinary seminar targets people involved in the promotion of cultural and educational services, particularly librarians, curators in museums, archivists, specialists in cultural studies, educationalists, historians and architects.