The project at Leufsta library started some months ago. Today was my first day at the job and so far I am not complaining about the office.
The project ‘The library of Leufstabruk‘ started in January 2018, when my Swedish colleges plowed through a meter of snow to pick up books at Leufsta. The temperatures inside the library were sub zero until just over a month ago. My first day at the office was on one of the most beautiful spring days imaginable. Not a cloud in the sky, a light breeze, blossoming trees – this must be what it is like to live in an Astrid Lindgren book. Driving up from Uppsala on the winding roads of northern Uppland is a meditative experience. And working at the library, which is in fact a small building on the side of the manor house, isn’t too stressful either.
So the stage is set, but what am I actually doing there? Basically, I am trying to find, identify and describe all Dutch books in the collection. Especially those titles that are no longer present in any library in the Netherlands are of interest. All copies will be added to the Dutch national bibliography until 1801, the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN), and I expect that there will be a lot. The library holds approximately 8,000 volumes and presumably half of these books were printed in the Dutch Republic. All editions from Leufsta in the STCN can be found, simply be searching for shelf mark Leufsta.
There is an obvious reason for these great expectations concerning the number of unique Dutch books that may be found. The Leufsta collection was built up by three generations of the De Geer family, Swedish nobility from Walloon descent with strong connections in the Netherlands. Charles De Geer, Baron of Leufsta (1720-1778) brought books with him when he came to Sweden in 1738. Later he ordered hundreds of books by mail from Samuel and Johannes Luchtmans in Leiden. This is of course only part of the story. Some books were acquired at auctions, others were bought at local bookshops. Together with my Swedish colleagues we’ll fill in the blanks and connect the dots, or databases, as one should say nowadays in a digital humanities context.