The Ruusbroec Institute and its Library were founded in 1925. However, in the early years there was no proper library building. The large collection of books belonging the founding scholars was kept in their respective communal houses in Antwerp. First in the Jesuit College of Our Lady, and a town house in the Rubenslei (n° 15), and later in the 'Ruusbroec house' in the Prinsstraat (n° 17). In 1953 the library was moved to its present location, Grote Kauwenberg 32. To ensure the necessary space for future acquisitions, an additional wing was added to the Library's repository in 1985-1988. Today the library houses over 100 000 books over 3000 metres of bookshelves.
From the early days onwards, the Ruusbroec Institute Library has tried to facilitate the researchers at the Institute. Apart from providing in an up-to-date collection of reference books and secondary literature on devotional, mystical and related cultural topics, the library has tried from the outset to acquire relevant primary sources: manuscripts, early printed books and devotional prints. Today these primary sources are the core of our special collections, which also comprise the incunabula collection of the Jesuit College of Our Lady, the institute archives and the collection of nineteenth and twentieth century primary sources. To this day new items are regularly added to all these collections.
Intensified collaboration with the University Library from 1973 onwards has resulted in the professionalisation of our library: the collection is incorporated in the University Library catalogue, the special collections are stored in climatised rooms and the library has become part of the Flemish Heritage Library network.
For more information on the history of the Ruusbroec Institute and its library, click here.