History of the Library

Uppsala University Library has existed for nearly 400 years. The library’s collections has moved to different locations and grown steadily during this time.

When Uppsala University was founded in 1477 there was no university library. Professors and students alike probably had access to the cathedral’s books. There were one or two private books around, but they were far from common. Knowledge was acquired via professors' lectures, to which students listened and took notes.

The Library’s history in brief

The Library was founded by Gustav II Adolf in 1620. That year it also received its first donation. The King presented the university with the book collection that had been housed on Gråmunkeholmen (the island of the Franciscan or Grey Monks) in Stockholm. It included the remains of the medieval monastic libraries and confiscated private libraries. It was a long time before the Library could be moved in to the building near the Cathedral that was originally intended to hold its collections. In the beginning the library didn’t even have an organisation. In the 1600s the collections were growing from donations, partly consisting of war booty from the wars on the continent.

In the 1690s the Library was moved to Gustavianum, one of the main buildings of the university at that time. Gustavianum was one of a few buildings that survived the great fire of Uppsala in 1702, when most of the town was burnt to the ground. In the 1700s the collections were growing from donations and legal deposits.

In the 1840s the new library building, Carolina Rediviva, was finished. In 1841 the Library was moved from Gustavianum and already in the 1880s Carolina Rediviva was reconstructed to make more room for closed stacks and reading halls for its visitors. The twentieth century onwards has been a time of intensive growth for the Library, both regarding its collection, new building extensions and reorganisations. Today the University Library consists of subject libraries, a special collections division and stacks around Uppsala.

Read more about our history

Photo of the building Gustavianum

Anna Lamberg, the first female employee at the Library

In the fall of 1899, Anna Lamberg was appointed library assistant at Uppsala University Library. She became the Library’s first female employees.

Read more about Anna Lamberg

Photo of Anna Lamberg
Last modified: 2022-07-26