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Roskilde Library

It all began in 1901 in an apartment on the corner of Algade and Allehelgensgade, when the Public Library Association was created with Axel Parliin as its chair and host.

Anyone over the age of 14 could become a member for 1 kroner a year. Members had 1200 titles to choose from, It was only permitted to loan one book at a time. The first library had 20 seats and only men were allowed, though women could borrow books to read at home.

In subsequent years the library moved to the Technical School in the old town hall by the St Lawrence church tower, to a rear building on Skomagergade and then to a rear building on Liebe’s farm, which later became Roskilde Museum. When the library moved there it had 5,700 books and its first paid librarian. The library generally received books as gifts from the city’s wealthier citizens. The first trained librarian was employed in 1917, but people still volunteered to provide extra help, offering assistance regarding the “spiritual poverty” of the city’s less fortunate residents.

In 1920 the library moved to premises at the children’s asylum.

Roskilde children's asylum.

When the number of children at the asylum dwindled, the library took over the entire building and, in the same year, received permission from the authorities to form a self-governing institution, Roskilde Library.

The old reading room at the children's asylum.

In 1923 Roskilde Library became the central library and also accommodated the school libraries in Roskilde County. Then, in 1947, the library sent its first mobile library on the road, its reach spanning all the way to Holbæk.

The first mobile library in 1947.

In the early 1950s the library again was running out of space and, after 30 years of difficulties trying to find new premises, the library moved into a new building just across from the Blackfriar Monastery and Roskilde Convent.

The new library building.

The Library today

The farthest northwest building possibly rests on the monastery’s old cemetery and skeletons form the Black Friars’ time supposedly surfaced while they were constructing the new building. An old acacia tree stood on the property in what was previously the monastery’s garden. This beautiful old tree is a black locust, also known as a false acacia, and was allowed to remain standing between the monastery and the library.

Roskilde Library has grown so large that it now comprises six separate libraries, two local historical archives and a mobile library. Home deliveries are also made to the sick, elderly and disabled unable to visit the library or use the mobile library. The library not only lends titles from its collection of 500,000 books, but also films, music, magazines and audio books. The library sponsors various events and other services such a book swap in the public park.

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