European Library Travel and the Enlightenment
Closely tied to Enlightenment ideals of the scientific method and its relatively universal understanding of the world were the published accounts of visits to libraries throughout Europe in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century. This paper demonstrates that contemporary library travel accounts had value to researchers of the time and are now uniquely rich sources for modern cultural historians. Of special interest to library historians, these works contribute to a better understanding of the nature of large and small collections alike, including those of monasteries, universities, government entities, schools, and prominent individuals. Of note are the travel diaries, scientific travel accounts, and library travel guides by Johann Christoph Aretin, Christoph Friedrich Nicolai, Georg Wilhelm Zapf, Johann Georg Keyssler, Friedrich Karl Gottlob Hirsching, and Philipp Wilhelm Gercken. Such works normally addressed such characteristics as a library’s collection scope, subject strengths, notable holdings, arrangement, and historical background. Taken together, they provide us with an excellent eighteenth-century perspective of the European library landscape.
Keywords: Library Travel, Libraries, Enlightenment
Dr. Thomas Walker
Associate Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee