Peter Sjökvist

The Library of Leufstabruk

“The Library of Leufstabruk” is a collaborative project between Uppsala University Library and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands, in The Hague. The project concerns one of Sweden’s most well-preserved, and yet least studied, cultural treasures: the collection of books gathered by the ironmaster and entomologist Charles De Geer (1720–1778) and his son the politician Charles De Geer (1747–1805) at Leufstabruk. The library is still today located in its sensitive but exquisite original environment. It is available to researchers and visitors to a limited extent. A catalogue printed in 1907 is the only existing register. The present project aims at making the book collection more accessible by registering data about it in modern databases, in a four stages-approach: a complete register of metadata in modern databases such as LIBRIS, a connection of data between relevant databases such as LIBRIS and the Dutch Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN), a detailed register of provenances and copy-specific information in cases of special interest in ProBok, and a full digitization of copies from previously unattested editions to be stored in Alvin. By these measures, with appropriate and effective adaptations based on the particular book-historical values in each single case, access to and knowledge of the highly international material at the library of Leufstabruk and its history can be greatly improved for researchers nationally and internationally.
Final report
The infrastructure project The Library of Leufstabruk has been a cooperation between Uppsala University Library and KB, the National Library of the Netherlands, in order to improve digital access to the book collection of the family De Geer in the 18th-century library at Lövstabruk in northern Uppland. Charles De Geer the entomologist (1720–1778) grew up in Utrecht in the Netherlands and bought big parts of his collection from Dutch book dealers. He completed them with books bought in Sweden, from book dealers and auctions. A considerable part of them are titles in the natural sciences. The son Charles De Geer the politician (1747–1805) enlarged the library with literature bought in Sweden. Here we find, among other things, more than hundred titles that have been forbidden, of controversial political of pornographical nature. Some hundred volumes, mainly French novels, have been owned by the little sister of Charles De Geer the politician Hedvig Ulrika De Geer (1752–1813). This has not been mentioned in previous research on the library. The project has been divided into four different main stages, and carried out completely according to plan.
The first stage has been registration of the entire collection into databases, following modern standards for the cataloguing of early printed resources. All copies, both those which are physically located at Lövstabruk and those which have been moved to Carolina Rediviva in Uppsala for security reasons (ca 400), are now registered in the National Union Catalogue LIBRIS, in 10 009 records altogether. In these are also included brief provenance information, simple book binding descriptions and other copy specific details. All Dutch books in the collection are now also registered in the STCN (Short Title Catalogue Netherlands), the Dutch national bibliography for early printed books. The number of Leufsta-records there is 2 137.
The second has been a more detailed documentation of provenance evidence in the collections, i.e. those traces in the books that prove who have been previous owners. 130 special records of provenances have been created in Alvin, a platform for digital collections and digital cultural heritage, according to a model elaborated by CERL (Consortium for European Research Libraries). It has been especially important to document those books that were once owned by Olof Rudbeck the younger. Using an auction catalogue (which has also been digitized and is available for free in Alvin), when the books were sold after his death, 63 books have been found. Several of these have also been owned by the father Olof Rudbeck the elder. Both were important scholars and have left marginal notes, underlinings and other traces from their reading and usage of the books in their work. These have all been entirely digitized and are available for free in Alvin, and can be used for further research, and they are in themselves a reconstruction of a part of Rudbeck’s private libraries. Documentation of existing marks of book dealers in the books, which demonstrate who sold the books, has only been included here. All marks have not been identified. The documentation by digital images, however, makes it possible for users to take part in them, and hopefully identify them. This part has also included a more thorough documentation of some book bindings of special interest, in accordance with a terminology elaborated by Ligatus, an international standard recommended by CERL, Book Bindings Working Group. The book bindings in the collection are in general rather simple, and for that reason only four bindings have been described in more detail. These book binding are shown digitally in Alvin. Two of these were bound by Swedish masters of the 18th century and have previously been mentioned in research. Now digital images of these are available for free, made according to the guidelines earlier used for in the Swedish project ProBok for rendering the details of the binding.
The third has been a full digitization of unique Dutch copies, or copies belonging to editions that have not previously been attested in the Dutch national bibliography. When the Dutch books were registered in the STCN it could be observed that the Leufsta library held a considerable number of titles that had not been attested previously, or were unique. These have been digitized in their entirety in the project. The previously mentioned Rudbeck-books included, the number of copies fully digitized in the project is 589. They are now available for free in Alvin. In addition, all digitized copies of Dutch books have been shared with the KB, National Library of the Netherlands in the Hague, and they will soon will be uploaded in Delpher, the Dutch digital library, where they have not been previously accessible.
The fourth has been the connection of the different resources by linking – in practice this is what creates the infrastructure for researchers interested in the Leufsta library – as well as a digitization of other resources concerning the library. The records in the different systems have accordingly been connected. The records in LIBRIS have been connected to the corresponding records in the STCN. From LIBRIS links have been added to digital copies and provenance evidence in Alvin. From Alvin there are at the same time links going back to LIBRIS and the STCN. The digitization of surrounding resources has concerned manuscript material on the history of the library. All of the 18th-century catalogues on the library are now accessible in Alvin, where you find both acquisition dates and prices. Extant correspondence and invoices from book dealers are digitally accessible as well. De Geer bought many of the books from Luchtmans in Leiden. Their entire archive, where we find that De Geer was one of the most important customers, is extant at the University Library in Amsterdam, and also digitally accessible on the web page. Thus our digitization has completed theirs.
A last part has been a smaller effort in order to improve the sensitive interior physical environment in the 18th-century library at Lövstabruk, which constantly needs supervision so that the books are stored and preserved in the most suitable way.
The future plans include to create a new webpage for the Leufsta library with access via the webpage of Uppsala University Library, where the here described resources are clearly presented, and to account for the results of the project The Library of Leufstabruk in articles in Swedish and English. A digital exhibition with a presentation of the project and with images, primarily from the digitized material, is planned for 2021, and at a later occasion physically in the exhibition room at Carolina Rediviva. The plan was also to arrange an international book historical symposium with the Leufsta library as a theme in the autumn of 2021, but this has necessarily been postponed because of the current pandemic. Hopefully it can take place in the autumn of 2022. In practice, this will be the new start for research on the Leufsta library. We also plan to publish the presentations from the symposium. Through the cooperation with KB, the National Library of the Netherlands and thanks to the participation in a considerable number of conferences and seminars both in Sweden and abroad an informal network of book historians been created. The network will be the main target audience for this symposium.
Grant administrator
Uppsala University
Reference number
SEK 1,890,000.00
RJ Infrastructure for research
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified