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Library von Alvensleben

Branch of the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt 


Subjects / Focus

Old stock from in between the 15th – 18th centuries, especially regarding the following subjects:


History / Jurisprudence / Natural Sciences / Philology / Philosophy / Theology / Funeral Sermons.


Click on the links above for more in-depth subject information.


Hundisburg Castle and Garden Administration
von Alvenslebensche library


City and District Library of Haldensleben

Reference Department of the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt

Opening Hours

Reading room use only per request at the City and District Library of Haldensleben.

Using the Library

The  Library von Alvensleben has been a branch of the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt (ULB) since 2012, thus being supervised both professionally and academically by the ULB. Requests for using the library are handled by the City and District Library of Haldensleben. Use of the library collections is only possible per request at the City and District Library of Haldensleben.
Please be aware, that the holdings are not available for lending.

History of the library

With a current stock of about 6000 volumes and over 13,000 titles, the Alvensleben Library is considered one of the most important private libraries in Germany founded during the Renaissance period. In its core, the library is based upon the book collection of the humanist and reformer Joachim I von Alvensleben (1514-1588), who acquired his first book, a philosophical treatise in Latin written by Erasmus of Rotterdam, as a nine-year-old in 1523. He went on to acquire even more books whilst studying in Leipzig, Wittenberg, Padua and Paris. Born at the Hundisburg, Joachim had his main residence at Alvensleben Castle from 1548 to 1560, then at Erxleben, at Rogätz Castle from 1570 to 1582 and then again at Erxleben and Alvensleben, where he died in 1588. In 1579 the collection, which in the meantime had grown considerably by taking over holdings from the Red Line of the Alvensleben family from Erxleben, which had died out a few years prior in 1554, and other acquisitions, was divided.


Chapel Library: The so-called Kapellenbibliothek was formed by merging the theological and church-historical books. It was located in a room of the newly built castle chapel in Erxleben. Like the chapel itself, the collection belonged to both of the two lines of the Alvensleben family having their residence in Erxleben (Erxleben I and II) and was overseen by the respective priest. Its holdings were later further increased by Gebhard XXI von Alvensleben-Erxleben I (1556-1624) and his descendants and eventually comprised about 2100 volumes. In 1936, the Erxleben I and II branches of the family then divided the books among themselves. About 900 books of the collection went to the library of Erxleben II, 1200 to Erxleben I. Most of the latter were lost in the post-war turmoil, only about 450 books were recovered and restituted to the family.


Feudal Library: The remaining books formed the private library of Joachim I von Alvensleben (Erxleben II), the later Lehnsbibliothek, which he and his descendants furthered. He entrusted his sons and feudal heirs with the preservation and aggrandisement of the library as well as to never divide or disperse it, which the family has adhered to up to now. In order to increase the accessibility of the library for the public, it was moved to Stendal in 1610. For this specific purpose, the family acquired a ‘Freihaus’ behind the cathedral and hired a librarian. In 1709, at the request of Johann Friedrich II von Alvensleben (1657-1728), the collection was moved to his newly built Hundisburg Castle, where it was shelved in the north tower (aptly named library tower). When the family had to give up Hundisburg Castle and estate in 1811, the library was returned to Erxleben II. There. the collection got its own library building in 1905.


In June 1945, about 4650 volumes of the Lehnsbibliothek and 900 volumes of the Kapellenbibliothek belonging to Erxleben II were evacuated to Lower Saxony shortly before the Red Army occupied the area. The books were then kept at Loccum Abbey from 1953 to 1975 and had been on loan at the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel since 1976. In 2012, the reunification of Germany made it possible to return the Lehnsbibliothek to its home region, where they were reunited with the remaining holdings of the Kapellenbibliothek. At the new and concurrently historic location of Hundisburg, they are now form the stock of a branch of the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt and are consequently indexed in its catalogue as well as under its professional and academic care. Public use is provided by the City and District Library of Haldensleben.


For more in-depth information, see the following links: