Rijksmuseum Research Library: A Special Library

By Jennifer Lam

RijksmuseumThis past Christmas break, I vacationed in Amsterdam and had the opportunity to visit the Rijksmuseum and its supporting library, the Rijksmuseum Research Library.  It’s a special library because it’s neither academic, school, public, or national in nature. It is, rather, an art history library and the largest of its kind in the Netherlands.

The Rijksmuseum Research Library has been collecting items since 1885, including catalogues, museum collection-related books, annual reports, and periodicals.  Among its many special collections, it houses the A.N. Godefroy collection of architecture books and periodicals and Frits Keers collection of museum catalogues. Altogether, the four storeys of the library contain one kilometre of items, and its underground storage facility houses a further five kilometres of items.

Rijksmuseum Research LibraryThe library has many employees, including a head librarian, a library coordinator, a library application manager, and multiple library assistants and volunteers. Imagine working in Europe for one of the most renowned art history libraries in the world–a library that’s in the same building that houses great art from masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum Research Library is truly special, especially with its cast-iron spiral staircase and brick-red and gold polychromed colonettes. Who knew special libraries could be so grande?

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