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His Writings Will Give a Better Image

Rotterdam Public Library harbors the world's largest collection of books written, translated, or edited by Desiderius Erasmus, amounting to some 5,000 items. The wealth of 16th- and 17th-century editions is especially great. About 30 percent of the books present were printed in Erasmus’s lifetime (1466–1536). Highlights are four autograph letters, some 90 first editions of his work, and many illustrated editions of his Praise of Folly. Books and articles about Erasmus are present in the collection, too. About a fifth of the books in this collection are not available elsewhere in the Netherlands. Because of this, the Rotterdam Erasmus Collection is cardinal to the ongoing edition of Erasmi Opera Omnia by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Click here to search for titles in the Rotterdam Public Library Catalogue.
Click here to search for titles in the national Dutch Central Catalogue (NCC).
Click here for information about recently acquired Erasmiana.  


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Dutch translation of De immensa Dei misericordia concio (Leiden, undated)

Dutch translation of De praeparatione ad mortem (Antwerp 1538)

Hyperaspistes (Antwerp 1526)


The Erasmus Collection is located on the fourth floor of the Central Library. The books can be consulted in the Erasmus Reading Room (Erasmuszaal). Please make an appointment first by calling +31 10 2816 188 or e-mailing to Erasmuszaal@bibliotheek.rotterdam.nl

Apart from the Erasmus Collection, Rotterdam Public Library possesses a substantial number of books by other authors printed before the year 1800 as well as medieval manuscripts. Its oldest printed possession dates from 1472 — Bartholomaeus Anglicus’s “De proprietatibus rerum”. These Special Collections are stored in climatized rooms. The materials can be consulted in the Erasmus Reading Room.


Erasmus by Dürer

Some of these Special Collections are present in the Library as of old, such as, for instance, the so-called “Laurentiana”. They stem from the old chapter library — founded in 1604 — of St. Laurens’s Church. Other Special Collections came about by expanding on small groups of homogenous materials that were already present in the Library, such as the Erasmus Collection, and the collection of antique children’s books. Sometimes a Special Collection was donated to the Library: Jan Hendrik Leopold, poet, classicist, and expert on Spinoza, donated his private library. Barend Maaskant donated his collection of books on the circus.

Information on the city of Rotterdam should not, of course, be lacking in a Rotterdam library. To this end the so-called Rotterdam Collection was established. Its books and other material provide the answers to questions about Rotterdam from past to present.

A number of the Special Collections are still being enlarged. Part of them can be found using the digital catalogue. Most books in the Erasmus Collection, however, as well as most books printed before 1800 can only be found through the card catalogues. These can be found in the Erasmus Reading Room. It is also in this reading room that these materials can be consulted. For an appointment, please call +31 10 2816 188 or mail to Erasmuszaal@bibliotheek.rotterdam.nl