Library of Mathematics

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The Seminar of Natural Science of the University of Bonn was founded in 1825. Until its closing in 1887, institutes for the individual disciplines were founded, amongst others the Mathematical Seminar. [1]

In the Mathematical Seminar, single little book collections came into existence. In the summer of 1928, Erich Bessel-Hagen came to Bonn to establish the newly-founded Historical-Didactical Department of the Mathematical Seminar upon the advice of Otto Toeplitz. [2] He started to collect valuable books and manuscripts on a large scale already very early in his mathematical career. They were by parts incorporated into his own collection, and by parts in the book collection of the Historical-Didactical Department of the Mathematical Seminar. [2]

Later on, he helped the persecuted scientific peers' families by selling their book collections during the years of the war. This way, the collections were by parts incorporated into his own collection and by parts into the collection of the Historical-Didactical Department. Thereby, he attended to the estate of Felix Hausdorff. [3]

During the air attack on Bonn's town center on the 18th October, 1944, the book collection of the Mathematical Institute was destroyed completely, amongst others numerous old irrecoverable works and many original editions from the 16th and 17th century. [3] In particular, the estate of the Dane Johan Ludvig Heiberg was destroyed. [2] However, Bessel-Hagen's private collection stayed undamaged. [3]

After Bessel-Hagens died, his collection was given to his former colleague Ernst Peschl for screening and inventorying purposes. Thereafter, Bessel-Hagens estate became a property of the Mathematical Institute and was thus incorporated in the newly-founded library of the Mathematical Institute. [2] This way, Bessel-Hagen rendered outstanding services to the protection and retrieval of valuable cultural assets in the years of war.

The Mathematical Institute turned the scientific part of Bessel-Hagens estate as well as the parts of Felix Hausdorff's and Otto Toeplitz's estates remained in the library for the most parts over to the Bonn University Archiv in 1981. [2]

Over the years, further estates were incorporated into the library of the Mathematical Institute, amongst others the estates of Hans Beck (1876-1942), Wolfgang Krull (1899-1971), Ernst Peschl (1906-1986), Otto Endler (1929-1988), Johannes David Lüders (1915-2002), Jens Petersen (-1994) and Philipp Wulff (1970-2003).

An extensive reconstruction was done in 1997-2000 in order to accommodate the steadily increasing book and journal collections. At the same time, computer desks were installed for the first time. [4]

In 2009, the library was reorganized fundamentally: The Library of Mathematics was founded as a cooperation of the Bonn University Library, the Mathematical Institute, the Institute for Applied Mathematics and the Institute for Numerical Simulation. In consequence, the mathematical textbook collection of the Bonn University Library was relocated to the Library of Mathematics. Furthermore, the library moved to the buildings of the newly-founded Center of Mathematics, Endenicher Allee 60. [5]


Gert Schubring: Das Bonner naturwissenschaftliche Seminar (1825-1887) - Eine Fallstudie zur Disziplinendifferenzierung. Acta Historia Leopoldina 43 (2004), 133-148.
Erwin A. Neuenschwander: Der Nachlass von Erich Bessel-Hagen im Archiv der Universität Bonn. Historia Mathematica 20 (1993), 382-414.
Erwin A. Neuenschwander: Felix Hausdorffs letzte Lebensjahre nach Dokumenten aus dem Bessel-Hagen-Nachlaß. Darmstadt: Technische Hochschule, Fachbereich Mathematik, 1992.
Universität Bonn (Ed.): Forsch. Bonner Universitäts-Nachrichten. 2. Bonn, 2009.
Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn (Ed.): Bericht über das Jahr 2009. Bonn, 2009.

(c) by the Library of Mathematics, University of Bonn