Leufsta Library

drawing of Lövsta castle with the library building
View of the castle over the pond, detail from inkwash by Olof von Dalin 1745.
From: Jernkontoret's picture collection

The 18th century library at Lövstabruk in North Uppland has belonged to Uppsala University Library since 1986. The library building was built in the 1730s. The book collection was gathered by three generations of the De Geer family and consist of a number of different subjects, predominantly scientific. For reasons of security all valuable works are kept in Uppsala University Library.

Read about the project The Library at Leufstabruk

Charles De Geer's (1720-1778) book collecting started early in his home town of Utrecht which abounded with bookshops and publishers. He also made visits to Amsterdam, the Hague and Leiden, all of which were of great importance for the European book trade of the time, and learnt to use book catalogues.

Journals like Gazette de Leyde and Leidse Courant were De Geer's most important source of information. By reading the advertisements he learnt about newly published literature and forthcoming book auctions whose catalogues were published in the journals. De Geer continued subscribing to these after moving to Leufsta in 1738-39. Other important sources of information for him were the Journal des savants and Philosophical transactions, which are considered to be two of the first modern scholarly journals. In Sweden, De Geer bought some of his foreign literature from the German bookseller Gottfried Kiesewetter in Stockholm, who had privilege to import books.

Having got to know Olof Rudbeck the Younger, De Geer had the opportunity, over and above the two published volumes of Campus Elysii, of acquiring the big hand-drawn and hand-coloured illustrated works Blomboken [The Flower Book] and Fogelboken [The Bird Book]. Carl Linnaeus is believed to have said about Fogelboken that "it appears not to be the work of a human hand".

At the auction following the death of Rudbeck the Younger, De Geer bought books from his book collection, of which some had been previously owned by the father, Rudbeck the Elder. Among these books was Rudbeck the Younger's book of sketches Iter Lapponicum - Journey to Lappland. On the same occasion De Geer also purchased  Basilius Besler's Hortus Eystettensis printed in Nürnberg in 1613 in two volumes, one of which is coloured. He also bought four manuscripts written by the young Carl Linnaeus including Catalogus plantarum rariorum Scaniae dated 1728 and Adonis sive Hortus Uplandicus dated 1731. In the latter Linnaeus classifies plants in Uppsala's botanical gardens according to his new sexual system.

In addition to entomology, general zoology and botany, there is also ichthyology, the scientific study of fish, in Charles De Geer's book collection. One splendid example is Louis Renard's beautiful book with hand-coloured plates from 1754 about the fish and crustaceans in the sea surrounding the Islands of the Moluccas. 

The acquisition by Uppsala University Library of the approximately 8,500 books was made possible by public grants and two large private donations. For reasons of security all valuable works are kept in Uppsala University Library. The book collection is listed in a catalogue compiled by E.G. Lilljebjörn. There are copies of this catalogue, with the University Library's shelfmarks, in the Special Reading Room and in the catalogue room at Carolina Rediviva. The printed books are now also being catalogued in the national library catalogue Libris and the local library catalogue Disa. 

The project The Library of Leufstabruk

the three participants in the project on stairs, from left Alex Alsemgeest, Peter Sjökvist and Helena Backman

The Library of Leufstabruk is a collaborative project between Uppsala University Library and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands, during 2018-2020. Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) has granted means to the project, to make the book collection of the library much more accessible for research. Participants in the project are project manager Peter Sjökvist, Helena Backman and Alex Alsemgeest.

The project aims at making the book collection of the library much more accessible for research through a complete registration in modern databases and connects these with the Dutch Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN). There will also be a detailed register of provenances and copy-specific information in cases of special interest, for example a selection of bookbindings in Alvin - platform for digital collections and digitised cultural heritage. Archival materials concerning the library including correspondence with the Dutch booksellers Luchtmans will also be digitised, as well as a full digitisation of copies from previously unattested Dutch editions. By these measures, access to and knowledge of the highly international material at the library of Leufstabruk and its history can be greatly improved for researchers nationally and internationally.


  • Alsemgeest, Alex. "Dutch connections in Swedish collections". In: Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis, 23. - Nijmegen : Uitgeverij Vantilt & Leiden : Nederlandse boekhistorische Vereniging, 2016. P. 33-52.
  • Anfält, Tomas. "Baronen och 1700-talets informationssamhälle". In: Biblioteken, kulturen och den sociala intelligensen / editor: Lars Höglund. - Borås : Valfrid i samarbete med Forskningsrådsnämnden (FRN), 1995. - (Skrifter från Valfrid; 5). P. 330-339.
  • Anfält, Tomas. "Buying books by mail order: a Swedish customer and Dutch booksellers in the eighteenth century". In: The bookshop of the world : the role of the Low Countries in the book-trade, 1473-1941. London, 1999. P. 263-276.
  • Anfält, Tomas. "Charles De Geer och medicinen". In: Nordisk medicinhistorisk årsbok. - Stockholm : Medicinhistoriska museet,  1988. P. 75-84.
  • Anfält, Tomas. "Från nytta till nöje : ett svenskt herrgårdsbibliotek". In: Solen och  Nordstjärnan: Frankrike och Sverige på 1700-talet. Nationalmusei utställningskatalog; 568. Published in cooperation with Bokförlaget Bra Böcker, Höganäs 1993. P. 252-261.
  • Ehrensvärd, Ulla. "Leufsta bruks fideikommissbibliotek". In: Biblis : årsbok utgiven av Föreningen för bokhantverk, 1968. P. 123-170.
  • Hamberg, Erik. "Entomologisk litteratur hos Charles De Geer". In: Svenska Linnésällskapets årsskrift, 2015. P. 71-102.
  • Hamberg, Erik. "Illustrationer och kopparplåtar till Charles De Geers Mémoires." In: Svenska Linnésällskapets årsskrift, 2016. P. 39-52.
  • Lindberg, Sten G. "Filigran och rocaille : kring tre bokband på Leufsta bruk". In: Uppland : årsbok för medlemmarna i Upplands fornminnesförening och hembygdsförbund, 1981. P. 31-41.
  • Ljungholm, Ann-Charlotte (ed.). Lövstabruk : ej sin like i hela riket. Lövstabruk, Stiftelsen Leufsta, 2011.
  • Selling, Gösta. "De tre herrgårdarna på Leufsta". In: Uppland : årsbok för medlemmarna i Upplands fornminnesförening och hembygdsförbund, 1988. S. 41-78.
  • Tottie, Thomas. När Leufstabiblioteket räddades till Sverige. Leufsta Vänner, 2000.
  • Tottie, Thomas. Ädle och höglärde H. Archiater : om Charles De Geer och hans brevväxling med Carl von Linné. Uppsala, 2007. 


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