The Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam keeps all old, precious and rare books, prints and manuscripts of the University Library. From medieval works to cookery books and comics, from the famous Blaeu atlases to to animal prints at the Artis Library and from the original manuscripts by Multatuli to contemporary graphic design.
The foundation of the library was laid in 1578. Today, it holds more than 1,000 collections, making the Special Collections department of the University of Amsterdam one of the largest heritage libraries in Europe. The collections are available for education, research and public presentations.
Many of these collections are amongst the most important in their field. Examples are the Maps and Atlases collection, the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana (Jewish books and manuscripts), the Eccleciastical Collections, the Book Historical Collections and the Artis Library.
The Special Collections houses in recently renovated historic buildings in the center of Amsterdam. In addition to changing exhibitions of masterpieces from its own as well as private collections, there is a modern study hall and a museum café. The Association of Friends of the Library promotes interest in the library and provides financial assistance for procurement of special editions.