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The Story of the Little Yellow Booklets

Exhibition Opening “Reclam’s Universal Library” on June 25 at the University Library of Freie Universität

№ 161/2018 from Jun 22, 2018

The University Library of Freie Universität is dedicating an exhibition to the most famous and oldest book series in Germany – with its memorable yellow cover – “Reclam’s Universal Library in Changing Times” will open June 25. The continuously expanded series, which is familiar to many generations of secondary school students in Germany, has been published for more than 150 years. The exhibition traces the history of the Universal-Bibliothek from its beginnings in the 19th century to the present. It documents the change in the external appearance of the Reclam booklets, providing an insight into their literary diversity and into German publishing history and cultural history.

The exhibition also shows lesser known variations of the Universal-Bibliothek and its subseries, as well as catalogs, advertising materials, hardcover editions, and a few special features: Reclam’s portable “field library,” so-called camouflage texts (anti-war texts, hidden in Reclam bindings), or “vending machine books” and a weekend library in a tropic-proof metal box.

In 1867 Goethe‘s Faust. Eine Tragödie. Erster Theil was published in Leipzig by the Philipp Reclam jun. publisher. It was the first in the Universal Library series. It was followed by thousands of titles – the exact number is unknown. By 2017 roughly 600 million of the inexpensive booklets were sold, filling bags, satchels, and book shelves with classics of German literature. Since 1970 the cover has been yellow, but more recently also orange, green red, blue, or magenta.

The Reclam collector and chair of the Reclam association Literarisches Museum e. V., PD Dr. phil. habil. Hans-Jochen Marquardt (Halle/Saale) curated the exhibition.

The exhibition will open on Monday, June 25, 2018, at 6 p.m. Following a welcoming address by the director of the library, Dr. Andreas Brandtner, Dr. Hans-Jochen Marquardt will introduce the exhibition.

Times and Location of the Exhibition

  • Vernissage on Monday, June 25, 2018, 6 p.m.
  • The exhibition can be viewed during the opening hours of the library (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.) from June 26 through August 24, 2018.
  • Foyer, University Library, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 39, 14195 Berlin.

Further Information


Dr. Susanne Rothe, Tel.: + 49 30-83 85 33 59, Email: rothe@ub.fu-berlin.de