University of Coimbra, Portugal
Joanina_Exterior.jpg
Exterior view of the Joanina Library. Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Located in Coimbra, Portugal, the University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and originally located in Lisbon. After moving to Coimbra in 1308 the university was moved between Coimbra and Lisbon four more times before settling in Coimbra in 1537.[1] The university’s location was settled at the top of a hill that overlooks the city of Coimbra.[2] As the only ancient university of Portugal, the University of Coimbra has a history that spans centuries of political, social, and economic shifts.[3] The university is closely linked to the city of Coimbra and is often referred to as the “City of Students,” and the two are considered to be interconnected on several levels.While maintaining a powerful connection to the city of Coimbra, the university has adapted to modern needs and has embraced their international significance by participating in international organizations and having a student body that represents over seventy different nations.[4]

After settling in Coimbra in 1537, the university library was admired in regard to the volume and variety of their collections for the time. The Livraria de Estudo(Study Library) records indicate that in 1513 the library held more than 120 manuscripts and was required to be open for students and faculty use four-six hours a day.[5] The library collection continued to grow in number and use as the university expanded.


Joanina Library

The library building that inspires numerous tourists and has garnered recognition from numerous publications is the Joanina Library, also commonly referred to as the Baroque Library of the University of Coimbra. Construction on the Joanina Library began in 1717 and continued until 1728.[6] This era saw the rise of Portugal from a deep economic turmoil into an age of prosperity due to economic reform, and the accession of King João V, a leader who was not only popular with the people but also a wealthy benefactor for numerous projects. Along with a grand monastery, the Aqueduct of Free Water, and several hospitals and factories, Joao V funded the rebuilding of the university’s library.[7]
Joanina_Arches.jpg
Arches and gilded details. Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0

The architecture and decor of the Joanina Library exemplifies the rich and ornate Baroque style with an abundance of gilded finishes (UN).[8] The interior is divided into three great rooms that are separated by grand and ornate archways and are filled with two-story bookshelves, topped by richly painted ceilings.[9] The Joanina Library remains a functioning service of the General Library. The newest of the 70,000 volumes housed in this building date from the early 1800s and can be accessed by university faculty and students through a process of application and approval.[10]

The Joanina Library was built with thick walls and teak doors that aid in keeping humidity and heat out, as well as shelves that are made of oak which is known as a hard wood for insects to infest.[11] Another interesting method to combat the concern of biological pests led to the Joanina Library becoming the home to bats that feast on unwanted pests overnight.[12] One of the most famous items located here is a manuscript of the Abravanel Bible, dated 1401-1450, and is one of only 20 Hebrew Bibles known to survive the Inquisition from the Iberian Peninsula.[13]

Joanina_Shelves.jpg
Shelves, interior room view. Obtained from flickr.com under the terms of the Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.


In 1901 the library was renamed the University Central Library, Biblioteca Central, as smaller libraries were being formed in individual departments, and gained its current title of General Library in 1924.[14] In 1962 the New Building was completed and now acts as the main library area, housing more than one million volumes and access to modern technology.[15] Together the Joanina library and the New Building library serve as the General Library of the University of Coimbra.



Timeline

1290-University founded in Lisbon[16]
1308 - University moved to Coimbra
1337-University returned to Lisbon
1537-University settles in Coimbra
1717-1728 -Construction of the Joanina Library[17]
1901-The University of Coimbra library is renamed “Central Library” [18]
1962 - New Building is constructed and becomes the second, and main, building of the General Library[19]


References

Birmingham, D. (2003). A concise history of Portugal (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Saramago, J. (2001). Journey to Portugal: In pursuit of Portugal's history and culture (A. Hopkinson, N. Caistor Trans.). New York, NY: Harcourt.
  1. ^

    National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 200). Coimbra university.Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983/
  2. ^ Vincent, M., & Sterling, R. A. (1994). Cultural atlas of Spain and Portugal, 11. Ox: Facts on File, Inc.
  3. ^ Ibid., 218
  4. ^ University of Coimbra. Information on: Coimbra. Retrieved April 4, 2012, from http://www.uc.pt/en/informacaosobre/coimbra
  5. ^

    Fiolhais, C. (2010). Conserving ancient knowledge for the modern world. The Authors, 136.
  6. ^

    National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 2000). Coimbra university. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983
  7. ^

    Vincent, M., & Sterling, R. A. (1994). Cultural atlas of Spain and Portugal, 111. Ox: Facts on File, Inc.
  8. ^

    National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 2000). Coimbra university. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983
  9. ^

    Fiolhais, C. (2010). Conserving ancient knowledge for the modern world. The Authors, 137.
  10. ^ Page, H. Biblioteca joanina – a priceless library. Retrieved April 4, 2012,from http://www.travelsignposts.com/Portugal/sightseeing/biblioteca-joanina-coimbra
  11. ^

    Page, H. Biblioteca joanina – a priceless library. Retrieved April 4, 2012, from http://www.travelsignposts.com/Portugal/sightseeing/biblioteca-joanina-coimbra
  12. ^ Checking out Coimbra - the university. (2012). Retrieved April 4, 2012, from
    http://portugalconfidential.com/2012/03/checking-out-coimbra-university/
  13. ^

    Fiolhais, C. (2010). Conserving ancient knowledge for the modern world. The Authors, 138.
  14. ^

    Ibid., 136.
  15. ^ National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 2000). Coimbra university. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983/
  16. ^

    Vincent, M., & Sterling, R. A. (1994). Cultural atlas of Spain and Portugal, 9. Ox: Facts on File, Inc.
  17. ^

    National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 2000). Coimbra university. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983/
  18. ^

    Fiolhais, C. (2010). Conserving ancient knowledge for the modern world. The Authors, 136.
  19. ^

    National Commission of Portgal to UNESCO. (November 26, 2000). Coimbra university. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1983/