Collecting seems to be a topic, which has become more and more interesting during the last years. It is not only the passion that seizes people of all parts of our society, it is more than some sort of eccentricity, it goes back to our roots, when we were hunters and gatherers to gain our living. Nowadays hunters and gatherers can be found in antique shops, but they are also to be found in museums and libraries. Collecting in museums has started with 'Cabinets of curiosities' ('Kunst- und Wunderkammern'), which housed "wonders" ranging from rare shells and coins to narwhal horns, coral carvings and perhaps mummified mermaids. Libraries always collected not only the scientific books of their times, they always strove for the bigger, wider, the universal library. The first one to meet this high standard was the antique library of Alexandria, where all the knowledge of the time was collected in about 400,000 papyrus scrolls, nowadays we have the universal library in the internet. Far from being universal, the small library of Leoben has a rather nice collection of travel books, which have been sources for our geologists and mining engineers during all the years of our existence. The books have been collected since the beginning of our University in 1840, and nowadays we still complete the collection with reprints from historic travel books. The collection has books like Brückmann's Magnalia Dei from 1727, where the author describes all 1600 mines in the world, which were known at that time, or Emanuel Swedenborg's Regnum subterraneum from 1734, where he describes the copper mines in Europe. Most of the literature in our collection comes from the 19th century, one of the most interesting books is Joseph Russegger's Travels through Europe, Asia and Africa in the years 1835-1841. Russegger was the first to draw a geological map of Egypt and the Sudan, he was the first European, to see the springs of the Nile. Another author to be mentioned is Belsazar Hacquet de la Motte, a physician, who travelled all over Europe. He is best known by his work Travels through Slovenia, in which he describes amongst others the Idrija mercury mine in 1779. In our collection there are also travel books, which are not related tomining or geology, we have for instance Sven Hedin's Transhimalaya and Hans Meyer's report on his travel to the Kilimanjaro in the year 1890. All the books on travelling bring to us the adventure of being away, they "bring the world back into our hearts", as the geologist Russegger notes at the end of his books.

Scripta Geologica. Special Issue

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Naturalis journals & series

Jontes, L. (2004). [Proceedings of the VII international symposium 'Cultural heritage in geosciences, mining and metallurgy : libraries, archives, museums' : "Museums and their collections" held at the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Leiden (The Netherlands), 19-23 May, 2003 / Cor F. Winkler Prins and Stephen K. Donovan (editors)]: Collections in libraries: a collection of travel-books in the University Library Leoben. Scripta Geologica. Special Issue, 4(17), 142–153.