Thousands of heritage books soon online

03/03/2022

This close collaboration between the library of the University of Leuven, Google and the National Library aims to allow as many people as possible to consult works of great value and interest online, via Google Books. There is a special focus on publications in French, Dutch, Spanish and Latin.

Founded in 1425 by Philip the Good, the University of Leuven was the main academic institution under the Ancien Régime on the territory of what would become present-day Belgium. Its library has known many misfortunes and dispersals during its six centuries of existence, including looting during the French Revolution, terrorist arson by the hordes of William II (in 1914) and the bombings of 1940. Lastly, when the university split in the 1970s, its library was divided between its French and Flemish wings. The importance of the current project will allow the online consultation of several thousand works, some of which date back to the 15th century. For the University of Leuven, these include works written by the institution's professors. It also contains the largest collection of 25,000 books printed in Brussels between the 15th and the 18th century. There are also unique documents, such as the first work in Western literature devoted exclusively to women's biographies.

This project will open the door to countless hours of enriching reading, whether you are a bibliophile, an avid reader, a historian or simply curious.