Royal Library of the Netherlands

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KB National Library of the Netherlands
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB)
Logo Koninklijke Bibliotheek wordmark.svg
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (7985207450).jpg
The KB as seen from the Prins Bernhardviaduct
Type National Library
Established1798(223 years ago) (1798)
Location The Hague
Coordinates 52°4′50.37″N4°19′36.35″E / 52.0806583°N 4.3267639°E / 52.0806583; 4.3267639 Coordinates: 52°4′50.37″N4°19′36.35″E / 52.0806583°N 4.3267639°E / 52.0806583; 4.3267639
Size7 million printed items: over 115 km (71 mi) of books, newspapers, journals, and microforms [1]
Access and use
Other information
Budget€53 million
DirectorLily Knibbeler
Royal Library of the Netherlands

The Royal Library of the Netherlands (Dutch: Koninklijke Bibliotheek or KB; Royal Library) is the national library of the Netherlands, based in The Hague, founded in 1798. [2] [3] The KB collects everything that is published in and concerning the Netherlands, from medieval literature to today's publications. About 7 million publications are stored in the stockrooms, including books, newspapers, magazines and maps. The KB also offers many digital services, such as the national online Library (with e-books and audiobooks), Delpher (millions of digitized pages) and The The Memory. Since 2015, the KB has played a coordinating role for the network of the public library. [4]



The initiative to found a national library was proposed by representative Albert Jan Verbeek on August 17, 1798. The collection would be based on the confiscated book collection of William V. [5] [6] The library was officially founded as the Nationale Bibliotheek on November 8 of the same year, after a committee of representatives had advised the creation of a national library on the same day. The National Library was initially only open to members of the Representative Body.

King Louis Bonaparte gave the national library its name of the Royal Library in 1806. Napoleon Bonaparte transferred the Royal Library to The Hague as property, while also allowing the Imperial Library in Paris to expropriate publications from the Royal Library. In 1815 King William I of the Netherlands confirmed the name of 'Royal Library' (Dutch: Koninklijke Bibliotheek) by royal resolution. It has been known as the National Library of the Netherlands since 1982, when it opened new quarters. [7] The institution became 'Independent Administrative Body' of the state in 1996, although it is financed by the Department of Education, Culture and Science. On 18 November 2014 the Wsob (Public Library Facilities System Act or 'Library Act') came into being. The act became valid on 1 January 2015 and from this moment onwards four organizations from the library world continued under the name Koninklijke Bibliotheek. These organizations are Sector Institute Public Libraries (SIOB), the Foundation (BNL), the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (DBNL) and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB).


The humanities are central to the collection of the KB, with an emphasis on Dutch history, language and culture.

In 2016, the KB contained 7,000,000 items, equivalent to 115 kilometers of bookshelves. Most items in the collection are books. There are also pieces of "grey literature", where the author, publisher, or date may not be apparent but the document has cultural or intellectual significance. [7] The collection contains almost the entire literature of the Netherlands, from medieval manuscripts to modern scientific publications. As there was no law for depositing Dutch publication the library started on January 1, 1974, the voluntary Dutch Repository Library. This in contrast with most other countries that have a legal deposit of publications. For a publication to be accepted, it must be from a registered Dutch publisher. [7]

The Royal Library of the Netherlands also has works of art and antiquities. One such piece of art is The Madonna with the Christ Child by fifteenth-century French painter Jean Fouquet, who is regarded as one of the best painters from that era. A valuable antiquity that is housed within the library is a bound book by Christopher Plantin (1520–89), a sixteenth-century French printer and publisher. The binding is made of brown calfskin with gold tooling. The book was made at Plantin's workshop in Antwerp and was dedicated to Emperor Charles V (1500–58). The library also has remarkable eighteenth-century brocade paper from Augsburg, Germany. In addition, the library holds a rare elaborately illustrated book from 1596. The book is of the travels of Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563-1611). He traveled to Spain, India, Indonesia, and East Asia. [8] Another valuable antiquity is the oldest depiction of ‘Dutchmen’. In 975, Count Dirk and Countess Hildegard donated the medieval manuscript, known as Egmond Gospels , to the Abbey of Egmond. It is one of the oldest surviving church treasures and includes depictions of ‘Dutch’ people and buildings. The Egmond Gospels were lost around the sixteenth-century, but were found in the early nineteenth-century. Knowing its historical significance, the Dutch government purchased the manuscript and brought it to the Royal Library of the Netherlands. [9] The Royal Library of the Netherlands also has the Trivulzio Book of House (ca.1465), a medieval manuscript that measures 9 cm x 13 cm, and contains wonderfully detailed Flemish miniature art. [10]

The collection is accessible for members. Any person aged 16 years or older can become a member. One day passes are also available. Requests for material take approximately 30 minutes. The KB hosts several open access websites, including the "Memory of the Netherlands" (Geheugen van Nederland), [11] Digital Library for Dutch Literature [12] and Delpher, an archive of more than 100 million pages as of 2020. [13]

Literature museum

The Literature museum (in Dutch: Literatuurmuseum) was founded in 1750 [14] as Nederlands Letterkundig Museum, [15] The museum contains a large collection of letters, manuscripts and memorabilia. The museum has three permanent and several temporary exhibitions. It also contains a special children's book museum. [14] On 4 February 2016, an online museum was opened. [15] On 1 November 2016, the museum was renamed to Literature museum. [16] The museum has a reading room with an extensive collection of newspaper clipping, and under certain conditions, some archival material can be consulted. [14]


The KB's Research Department is engaged in internationally renowned research in the field of digital technology, sustainable preservation and accessibility of both paper and digital heritage. Important topics are the applicability of artificial intelligence, the use of big data, the increasing importance of privacy & security, the changes in the publishing and publishing world and the role of public libraries in today's society.

See also

Related Research Articles

Leiden University Library Academic library based in Leiden, the Netherlands

Leiden University Libraries is a library founded in 1575 in Leiden, Netherlands. It is regarded as a significant place in the development of European culture: it is a part of a small number of cultural centres that gave direction to the development and spread of knowledge during the Enlightenment. This was due particularly to the simultaneous presence of a unique collection of exceptional sources and scholars. Holdings include approximately 5,200,000 volumes, 1,000,000 e-books, 70,000 e-journals, 2,000 current paper journals, 60,000 Oriental and Western manuscripts, 500,000 letters, 100,000 maps, 100,000 prints, 12,000 drawings and 300,000 photographs. The library manages the largest collections worldwide on Indonesia and the Caribbean. Furthermore, Leiden University Libraries is the only heritage organization in The Netherlands with three registrations of documents in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

<i>Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c.</i> First Dutch newspaper, published in June 1618

Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. was the first Dutch newspaper. It was published in June 1618 in Amsterdam. It was a regular weekly publication. It can be called the first broadsheet paper, because it was issued in folio-size. Before this, news periodicals had been pamphlets in quarto-size.

Gruuthuse manuscript

The Gruuthuse manuscript is a medieval compilation, the oldest core of which is dated about 1395, while the youngest unfinished contributions date from around 1408. The manuscript is the only known source for a large number of Middle Dutch texts.

Nationaal Archief

The Nationaal Archief (NA) is the national archives of the Netherlands, located in The Hague. It houses collections for the central government, the province of South Holland, and the former County of Holland. There is also material from private institutions and individuals with an association to the Dutch government or the political or social history of the Netherlands. The Nationaal Archief holds the Archives of the Dutch East India Company from 1602–1811, which were, along with related records held by South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 2003 in recognition of their historical value. Recently, the photographic archives of Spaarnestad Photo were included in the Nationaal Archief. It has been announced that Wikipedia will receive user rights over many photos from these archives.

The Digital Library for Dutch Literature is a website about Dutch language and Dutch literature. It contains thousands of literary texts, secondary literature and additional information, like biographies, portrayals etcetera, and hyperlinks. The DBNL is an initiative by the DBNL foundation that was founded in 1999 by the Society of Dutch Literature.

Justine Constance Wirix-van Mansvelt was a Dutch Protestant expert on the oeuvre of the Italian poet and writer Dante Alighieri (1265–1321).

The Beudeker Collection is a collection of maps and views of the Netherlands and Belgium in the British Library, created by the Dutch merchant Christoffel Beudeker.

Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde

The Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde is a prestigious and exclusive literary society. The MNL was established in Leiden in 1766 and is still located there. At the moment, the society has approximately 1,600 members, mainly Dutch scholars. New members can only be elected after they are introduced by existing members. The MNL has two regional branches, for the Northern and the Southern part of the Netherlands, and also a representative in South Africa. King Willem-Alexander is the patron of the MNL.

The following is a timeline of the history of the municipality of The Hague, Netherlands,

Beyeren Armorial

The Beyeren Armorial is a manuscript roll of arms of the early 15th century, containing 1096 hand-colored coats of arms, with annotations in Middle Dutch. It is held by in the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague (KB), shelf mark 79 K 21.

Nederlandse Centrale Catalogus

The Nederlandse Centrale Catalogus (NCC) is the official Dutch bibliographic catalog and metadata index system that links to and consolidates the catalogs of over 400 libraries in the Netherlands.

The following is a timeline of the history of the municipality of Delft, Netherlands.

Gerard Isaäc Lieftinck, known in print as G.I. Lieftinck, was a Dutch academic specialising in medieval European manuscripts.

Books in the Netherlands Overview of books in the Netherlands

As of 2018, Wolters Kluwer ranks as the Dutch biggest publisher of books in terms of revenue. Other notable Dutch houses include Brill and Elsevier.

Johannes Cornelis de Jonge

Jhr. Johannes Cornelis de Jonge was a Dutch Rijksarchivaris, historian, and politician. He is best known for his encyclopedic Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen, a naval history of the Netherlands that was based on the Dutch naval archives, a large part of which were destroyed in a fire in the archives of the Dutch Department of the Navy in 1844. By default therefore this history had to come in the place of the lost primary documents.

NARCIS of the Netherlands is an online portal for searching Dutch scientific research publications and data. As of July 2018, NARCIS indexes 268,989 data sets and 1,707,486 publications, including a significant proportion of open access works.

Kathryn Margaret Rudy is a manuscript historian at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She is best known for her forensic approach to medieval books, and has pioneered the use of the densitometer to measure the grime that original readers deposited in their books. Her research focuses on the medieval reception of manuscripts, how they were manipulated and handled, and how book-making skills were lost with the advent of the printing industry.

Hotel des Indes (The Hague) Hotel in The Hague

Hotel Des Indes is a hotel located at the Lange Voorhout in The Hague, The Netherlands. It was constructed as a mansion in 1858. In 1881, it opened as a hotel.


  1. "KB in a nutshell".
  2. "Koninklijke Bibliotheek / Royal Library of the Netherlands". The Conference of European National Librarians (CENL). Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  3. "Dutch Royal Library | library, The Hague, Netherlands". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  4. "The National Library of the Netherlands - Digital Preservation (Library of Congress)". Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  5. "National Library of The Netherlands". Preserving the World's Rarest Books. 2018-02-13. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  6. Hanson, J. C. M. (April 1940). "Review: The Royal Library of the Netherlands". The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy. The University of Chicago Press. 10 (2): 266–269. doi:10.1086/614725. JSTOR   4302710.
  7. 1 2 3 Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. Chicago: Skyhorse Publishing.
  8. Murray, Stuart. The Library: An Illustrated History. New York: Skyhorse, 2019. Print.
  9. Egmond Gospels. KB National Library of the Netherlands
  10. Trivulzio Book of Hours (ca.1465). KB National Library of the Netherlands
  11. "Image database - Memory of the Netherlands - Online image database of archives, museums and libraries".
  12. "Organisatie". Digital Library for Dutch Literature (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  13. "Delpher: de Organisatie". Delpher (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  14. 1 2 3 "Literatuurmuseum". The Memory. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  15. 1 2 "Literatuurmuseum". Mondriaan Fonds. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  16. "Letterkundig Museum wordt Literatuurmuseum". Literatuur Museum (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 June 2020.