Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Destruction of the Libraries of Louvain

The Library of the Catholic University of Louvain or Leuven in Belgium was destroyed in both World War I and World War II. The most notorious of the two destructions occurred in 1914 during World War I. A new library designed by Architect Whitney Warren was dedicated in 1928. The new building featured a tall spire and a carillon of 48 bells. The stamp to the left depicts the rebuilt Library of the University of Louvain. It was issued on Dec. 1, 1928. It is a semi-postal with the additional funding going for anti-tuberculosis work. (Scott Catalogue # B83). In 1940 when Germany overran Belgium, the Library of the University of Louvain was again destroyed. The collection had been rebuilt to include almost 700,000 volumes. Phillip A. Metzger has written a good overview of the history of the library including its destruction in 1914 and its rebuilding in 1928. The library was rebuilt after World War II in accordance with the earlier Warren Whitney design. There are also postage stamps which depict the first Library of Louvain and the Library that was rebuilt after World War II. More information about the stamps can be found here. There is a Wikipedia article which includes information about the library's more recent history.

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