Royal Library of Belgium

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Koninklijke Bibliotheek België / Bibliothèque royale de Belgique
(Royal Library of Belgium)
Kongelige-bibliotek (4888584851).jpg
Country Belgium
Type National library
Location Boulevard de l'Empereur 4, 1000 Bruxelles
Size 4M volumes
Legal deposit Yes
Website Official website

The Royal Library of Belgium (Koninklijke Bibliotheek België in Dutch, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique in French, abbreviated KBR and sometimes nicknamed Albertina) is one of the most important cultural institutions in Belgium. The library has a history that goes back to the age of the Dukes of Burgundy. In the second half of the 20th century, a new building was constructed on the Mont des Arts in central Brussels, near the Central Station. The library owns several collections of historical importance, like the famous Fétis archives, and is the depository for all books ever published in Belgium or abroad by Belgian authors.

There are four million bound volumes in the Royal Library, including a rare book collection numbering 45,000 works. The library has more than 700,000 engravings and drawings, 150,000 maps and plans, and more than 250,000 objects, from coins to scales to monetary weights. This coin collection holds one of the most valuable coins in the field of numismatics, a fifth-century Sicilian tetradrachm.[1]

The library also houses the Center for American Studies, a new institute of higher learning established by the University of Antwerp, the Free University of Brussels, the University of Ghent, and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which is internationally accredited for delivering Master of Arts degrees in American Studies.

The Royal Library is open for reference only. Patrons must be at least eighteen years of age and must pay an annual membership fee.[2]

The tower of the old Royal Library of Brussels on the site of the modern building of the Albertina (drawing by Léon van Dievoet)

Music division[edit]

Created in 1965, the Music Division of the Royal Library of Belgium is the most important scientific center of the Country for the preservation and study of music-related documents. The Music Division holds hundreds of thousands manuscript and printed scores, about one hundred thousand sound archives, large collections of musicians’ letters, concert programs and posters, photographs and other iconographic materials, ending with some 800 music-related objects such as medals, paintings, sculptures, music instruments. Its initial core is represented by the music library of Belgian musicologist François-Joseph Fétis, one of the richest collections of early music of the 19th century (including notably an autograph of Johan Sebastian Bach[3]). It then expanded into a musicological reference library unique in Belgium, thanks to an active acquisition policy and to a number of music collections - from the 18th century until today - linked to personalities or institutions involved in Belgian and international musical life, such as Bela Bartók, César Franck, André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry, Franz Liszt, Albert Roussel, Henry Vieuxtemps, Guillaume Lekeu, Eugène Ysaÿe.


  • 1837-1850 : Frédéric de Reiffenberg (nl)
  • 1850-1887 : Louis-Joseph Alvin
  • 1887-1904 : Edouard Fétis
  • 1904-1909 : Henri Hymans
  • 1909-1912 : Joseph Van den Gheyn (fr), S.J.
  • 1913-1914 : Dom Ursmer Berlière O.S.B.
  • 1919-1929 : Louis Paris
  • 1929-1943 : Victor Tourneur
  • 1944-1953 : Frédéric Lyna
  • 1953-1955 : Marcel Hoc
  • 1956-1973 : Herman Liebaers
  • 1973-1990 : Martin Wittek (fr)
  • 1990-1991 : Denise De Weerdt
  • 1992  : Josiane Roelants-Abraham
  • 1992-2002 : Pierre Cockshaw
  • 2002-2005 : Raphaël De Smedt
  • 2005-  : Patrick Lefèvre

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murray, Stuart A. P. “The Library: An Illustrated History.” New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012, p. 249-250.
  2. ^ Murray, Stuart A. P. “The Library: An Illustrated History.” New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012, p. 250.
  3. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°50′40″N 4°21′23″E / 50.84444°N 4.35639°E / 50.84444; 4.35639