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Special collections

Within the Library of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the department of Special and Historical Collections administers all manuscripts and printed works in all fields up to 1901 (although not yet all 19th-century editions), and part of the modern rare books. This represents a total of 70,000 items.

See our image database.

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Request documents

  • The Special Collections Reading Room is open on weekdays from 9 am - 5 pm (VU Main Building, room 1C-02a; see Locations, opening hours). 
    Microfiche and microfilm readers and scanning facilities (bring your own usb stick)
  • Please note that a library card is required to request and use documents, see Membership
  • To request books of the Special and Historical Collections go to LibSearch. Click on Reserveren and follow the instructions. Requests before 3 p.m. are available the next business day at 9 pm. Note! Due to the special character of the collection, some requests may be rejected. Please consult 'My account' in LibSearch about the status of your request, or ask at the Special Collections desk (1C-02a).

Send an email to Special Collections.


Programme Art, Heritage and Archives (KEA)
With this strategic programme the University Library (UL) aims to catch up with the existing backlogs in collection management of heritage and special collections of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam). There is substantial work to be done in particular in regard to the historical records of the university, academic heritage objects (3D, such as portraits of professors as well as scientific instruments) and the art collection. Currently these documents and objects are spread across the campus and over various depots in the main building of the university and not yet being curated so far. We identify these materials, register them and make them available for education and research, wherever possible. Through this programme the UL also invests in the management of other special collections among which the Dutch Protestant Heritage Collection and the collections containing maps and old printed books and manuscripts.

By initiating and implementing this programme the UL ensures access to the heritage and art collections of VU Amsterdam for present and future generations.

Programme period: 2016 - 2020

KEA runs projects for the following collections:
- Academic Heritage Objects, project leader: Liselotte Neervoort
- Maps, project leader: Lida Ruitinga
- Art, project leader: Wende Wallert
- Historical archive of the VU, project leader: Petra Links (also programme leader)
- Old printed books and manuscripts, project leader: Willemien van Dijk
- Dutch Protestant Heritage, project leader: Hans Seijlhouwer
Call for action
Do you have any heritage objects, historical documents or art objects that may be related to the VU, or do you know someone who could be helpful to us in this regard? Please contact Liselotte Neervoort tel. +31(0)6-21247309.

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