Projects at the Ruusbroec Institute Library

The Ruusbroec Institute Library is not only a library that collects and lends books. It is also a centre of many other activities. Some of the most important of these projects are highlighted here.


Every year the Ruusbroec Institute Library offers traineeships to students  as part of their academic education (e.g. students from library sciences, literature studies, art history, etc.). We offer both professional training projects and research assignments, or a combination of both.

Interested in a traineeship at the Ruusbroec Institute Library? Please contact Erna Van Looveren.

Traineeships 2016-2017:

Stages 2016-2017:

1. Lies Verbaere (University of Ghent)

  • Structural impressions: lay out in manuscripts and early printed books
  • Professional training with research assignment
  • October-December 2016
  • Folder: Structurele impressies (in Dutch), with images from the collections of the Ruusbroec Institute Library

2. Hannah De Temmerman (University of Ghent)

  • Saint Jerome at the Ruusbroec Institute
  • Professional training with research assignment
  • February-April 2017
  • Exhibition: entrance hall of the University Library (May 2017)

3. Leen Van Hirtum (University of Antwerp)

  • The relics at the Ruusbroec Institute
  • Professional training with research assignment
  • February-April 2017
  • Web exhibition: Stukjes hemel op aarde (in Dutch), with images from the collections of the Ruusbroec Institute Library

4. Sarah Menu (University of Antwerp)

  • Modern Hadewijch reception
  • Research training
  • February-april 2017
  • Web exhibition: Moderne Hadewijch-receptie. Zes markante momenten (in Dutch)

Traineeships 2015-2016:

1. Kara Verboven (University of Ghent)

  • Klooster van Groenendaal  (Groenendaal Priory)
  • Professional training with research assignment
  • February-April 2016
  • Web exhibition: Herinneringen aan Groenendaal (in Dutch), with images from the collections of the Ruusbroec Institute Library

Traineeships 2014-2015:

1. Lore Lievens (University of Ghent)

  • Heilzame handschriften (Salutary manuscripts)
  • Professional training with research assignment
  • December-April 2014-2015
  • Exhibition: entrance hall of the University Library (May 2015)

2. Elisabeth Ennekens (University of Antwerpen)

  • Ontsluiting in Brocade van een aantal losbladige gebedsblaadjes (Description of loose leaves with prayers in the University Library catalogue)
  • Professional training
  • September-October 2014

Devotional prints: Collection Thijs

In 2014, after the librarian of the Ruusbroec Institute Library's recommendation, the University Library of the University of Antwerp acquired more than 1000 devotional prints and texts from the collection of the late professor A.K.L. Thijs, expert in the field of images and printing in Antwerp in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The collection will be donated to the Ruusbroec Institute Library on permanent loan once cataloguing at the University Library is finished. 

The Collection Thijs is an important addition to our already rich collection of devotional prints. Together they provide an unusually extensive documentation of the numerous ways in which printed matter played an important role in the lives of Catholics, and it also represents an exceptional record of the production of such images and texts for which Antwerp was known throughout Europe in the early modern period.

To underline its importance, the University Library has started cataloguing the Collection Thijs. For each object in this collection a basic description is entered into a database along with descriptions of their manufacturers. This information will be combined with additional information that will enable scholars to learn more about various issues pertaining to the use of this rich collection of images and texts by churches and congregations, as well as by private individuals for personal devotion. Each object will be provided with a digitized image. After the completion of this cataloguing project the data will be made available online to guarantee their accessibility to the general public.

In due time the devotional prints collection of the Ruusbroec Institute Library will be catalogued according to the same principles. 

First Aid Book Conservation

In 2013 the Special Collections Department at University Library and the Ruusbroec Institute Library worked together in a basic conservation project for early printed books: Boeken EHBO/First Aid Book Conservation. The aim of this project was to check the early printed books for any damage and undertake, if necessary, basic conservation in order to prevent the books from further damages. The books were taken from the shelves and brought to a conservation workshop in the University Library, equipped especially for this purpose. One by one the books were cleaned (dry cleaning), the damage was registered, the leather bindings were treated with dressing and finally simple first aid procedures were executed (loose parts were glued back, tears in paper repaired, etc.). From March till October 2013 no fewer than 1500 early printed books were treated.

The conservation team consisted of library staff, volunteers with some experience in book restoration and students of the paper restoration course at the Artesis School in Antwerp. Marijn De Valk, independent book restorer from Middelburg (The Netherlands) coordinated the project.  The project was generously funded by a private sponsor, the M.E. Belpaire Society. Regular news letters informed anybody with an interest in the project about its progress.

The Ruusbroec Institute Library decided to continue the First Aid Book Conservation activities after the end of the project, albeit on a smaller scale. At the moment two volunteers  spend one morning each week in the reading room dry cleaning early printed books and making book wraps, or in the repository checking the state of the bookshelves and cleaning them. More complicated procedures  are not executed, but records are kept of all books in need of more serious restoration. 

Magazine Universiteit Antwerpen (August 2013) dedicated an article about this project (in Dutch): pdf - 0,5 Mb.

Flandrica is a portal site, providing access to digitized books, manuscripts, newspapers, engravings and other items from the Flemish heritage libraries. It offers an opportunity to learn more both about well-known and unknown items of Flemish cultural heritage. Every year the Ruusbroec Institute Library adds new items from its collections on

STCV: Short Title Catalogue Vlaanderen

The Short Title Catalogue Vlaanderen (STCV) is an online database containing extensive bibliographical descriptions of editions printed in Flanders in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The STCV-project started in 2000, and since September 2009 the project has been managed by the Flanders Heritage Library.

In November 2015 this database contained already 41.000 copies from various important heritage collections in Flanders, among which 3328 copies from the early printed books collection of the Ruusbroec Institute Library. In 2015-2016 an STCV-expert will add all 17th-century books from Flanders in our collection to the database.

UPLA: Universal Procedure for Library Assessment

UPLA (Universal Procedure for Library Assessment) is a statistic model to register damages on collection level. This model, which has been developed by book restorer-preservation specialist Marijn de Valk in cooperation with Hoogduin paper restorers, has been commissioned by de Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek. In this model a representative sample is taken from the collection to evaluate the physical condition of the entire collection. UPLA is, in the first place, a tool for librarians to help them develop initiatives to avoid and remedy damages to their collections, but eventually it has to evolve to a Schaderegister Vlaanderen (Inventory of damages Flanders) which provides reliable information that can be used by policymakers on governmental level.

Characteristic for this model is its execution by laymen, supervised by a restorer. The first test for the entire procedure was executed in the Ruusbroec Institute Library. A meticulously chosen sample of 300 books was screened for 23 types of damage, ranging from moderate to severe. An important aid in this stage was the Schadeatlas Bibliotheken (Atlas of Damages for Libraries), that gives an overview of all types of damages, including descriptions and images. This screening resulted in a reliable picture of the physical state of the entire collection. 

For more information, check