Rare books

The Rare Book De­part­ment has col­lected about 160 thou­sand items from be­tween the 15th and 21st cen­turies. It is the largest de­pos­i­tory of old books in Lithua­nia, its hold­ings and sig­nif­i­cance ri­val­ing the most fa­mous li­braries of East­ern Eu­rope. The Li­brary was started by a fa­mous hu­man­ist, Vil­nius Suf­fra­gan Bishop Georgius Al­binius and Sigis­mund II Au­gus­tus, the ruler Lithua­nia and Poland, who do­nated their col­lec­tions to form the foun­da­tion of the Li­brary. Later on the col­lec­tions of the Li­brary were sup­ple­mented by gen­er­ous gifts from the most dis­tin­guished rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Radzi­wiłł dukes and Sapieha fam­ily, many bish­ops of Vil­nius, prelates and canons of cathe­dral chap­ter, other high priests, Lithuan­ian states­men and cul­tural icons.

Vil­nius Uni­ver­sity Li­brary keeps the largest col­lec­tions of in­cunab­ula and palaeo­types in Lithua­nia and the largest se­lec­tion of old Lithuan­ian books in the world – the lat­ter con­tains such unique ex­am­ples as Catechism – the first Lithuan­ian book by Mar­ty­nas Mažvy­das – as well as Mikalo­jus Daukša’s Catechism, the only works by Bal­tramiejus Vì­len­tas and other prog­en­i­tors of Lithuan­ian lit­er­a­ture known in the world, ex­tremely valu­able se­lec­tion of old at­lases and maps, and the au­then­tic book col­lec­tion of the li­brary of the old Vil­nius uni­ver­sity Bibliotheca Academiae Vilnensis.