The ULiège Library's Heritage Collections


The original collection of the ULiège libraries came from the City. Indeed, when the University was created in 1817, the City of Liège was obliged to deposit its library, which consisted mainly of the former library of the École Centrale du Département de l’Ourthe, itself established from works seized from the religious congregations of the former Principality of Liège. Over the last 200 years, purchases, donations and legacies have enriched this original collection. The collections cover a period from the 9th century (ca. 834) to the year 2000.

The collections currently occupy several linear kilometres spread out in the city centre (Manuscript Room) and in the reserve in the Sart Tilman. After the Royal Library of Belgium, it is the largest heritage library of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, in terms of the size and wealth of its collections.

Real Treasures

The library's holdings include a collection of manuscripts (about 6,700 items), a collection of incunabula (more than 500), a collection of old prints (about 30,000 documents for the Ancien Régime), a collection of rare or precious works from the 19th and 20th centuries, and archival holdings.

Among the heritage collections, four items are classified as "Treasures of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation". These are the Évangéliaire d’Averbode, the Psalter of Lambert le Bègue, the Wittert Leaflet and one of the Albums of Saint-Paul de Sainçay.

Several funds also deserve special attention, such as the collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts (Dargent, Wittert and Chauvin Funds), medieval and modern manuscripts from the former abbeys of Saint-Trond, Averbode, and the convents of the Crusaders of Liege and Huy. Among the archive collections, we should mention the Weissenbruch collection, which covers the activities of the family printing house from the creation of the Journal Encyclopédique in the 18th  century until the closure of the company in the 2000s, the Nagelmackers collection, which contains archives tracing the activity of the bank, and the Ernest Mahaim collection, which includes the archives of William Cockerill. The archives of various researchers from the Institution - Léon Fredericq, Théodore Schwann, André Dumont, Georges Dossin, Karl Hanquet, etc. - are also of great interest. Finally, the Wittert collection includes several books of hours and illuminated manuscripts, as well as incunabula and old prints, some of which are exceptional.

Magnificent Objects of Study

These collections are of great historical interest and some of them also have an aesthetic value.  Others trace the history of research within the institution.

These collections are remarkable documentary sources for teaching and research. They are regularly the subject of dissertations and theses. They are available to teachers in the context of seminars and serve as sources for the work of students and researchers.

The ULiège Library continues to digitise its collections, to catalogue early manuscripts and prints, and to rehabilitate and stabilise its collections. Research on the history of the collections, the materials of the books, and more particularly on pigments and dyes, are areas of research that the libraries intend to promote in the years to come.

Pieces to Discover Online

The items in the ULiège Library's heritage collections are often very fragile and sensitive to temperature and humidity conditions. They are, therefore, only accessible to the public on special occasions. However, a large number of works have already been digitised and are accessible online.

Catalog of heritage collections

virtual galleries

DONUM, deposit of digitised objects

Contact :


Fonds patrimoniaux de l'ULiège Library

Créés en 1817, les fonds patrimoniaux des bibliothèques de l'Université de Liège occupent plusieurs kilomètres linéaires répartis tant au centre-ville qu'au Sart Tilman. Après la Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, il s’agit de la plus importante bibliothèque patrimoniale de la Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles, par la taille et la richesse de ses collections. 

Share this page