Key topics

Following the establishment of the city library in 1584, major donations and acquisitions defined certain focus areas for Utrecht University Library. In 2009, when the Utrecht University Library celebrated its 425th-anniversary, Utrecht University Library identified fifteen themes as the focus areas for the Special Collections.

The fifteen themes are divided into four key topics, which clearly reflect the subjects that are well represented in the manuscripts, early printed works and maps of the Special Collection. Further information on these themes and lists of digitized works relating to specific themes are included on this website.

There are, of course, many major works that do not relate to one of the fifteen themes. These can be located via the sections ‘From the treasury’ and ‘Recently digitized’, or via the catalogue.

Profile of Utrecht, Diarium (ca. 1593-1600), Hs. 798

The collection of manuscripts, old printed books and maps of the University Library of Utrecht is in many ways a reflection of the history and culture of the city of Utrecht. From the medieval period large collections of the monastic and chapter libraries have been preserved, including a number of masterpieces.

Utrechts Psalter

In Utrecht, an episcopal city full of churches, cloisters and chapters, theology has always played an important part in the scientific debates from the medieval period onwards. This tradition was continued during the Reformation and beyond, both under protestants as catholics. Well assorted libraries were hence indispensable. Many works of these libraries have found their way to the Special Collections.

[Chart of Sumatra] (1737), Kaart: Moll 622

The Special Collections of Utrecht University Library reflect the university’s rich tradition of research into spatial phenomena, on and under the earth’s surface and in outer space.

De consolatione philosophiae (1485), X fol 4 rariora

The Utrecht University Library Special Collections reflect the university interests with regards to all aspects of human and animal health. For centuries, there has been a focus on these disciplines, and this has resulted in a celebrated collection of early editions and manuscripts.