Wednesday, February 21, 2007
KU Leuven Reference Library
This impressive-looking library has a chequered history which I can't resist reporting. In WWI the library was burned down (c. 300,000 books lost, plus manuscripts collected from 1425 onwards), and it was rebuilt with financial help from American universities. Then it burned down again in WWII (c. 900,000 books and manuscripts lost), and was rebuilt again afterwards.* Then in the 1960s, language (and other) issues resulted in the university at Leuven becoming Flemish-speaking and a new Francophone university being built at Louvain-la-Neuve. The reference library collection was split in half.
The tower houses a lovely-sounding 63-bell carillon which I was lucky enough to hear playing when this photo was taken.
I'm less convinced about the dead insect on a stick. Apparently it symbolizes 'the relationship between art and science'. I think I don't get it.
* "So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up."