Stuttgart Library


This is the last task for English III of GIBA’s english program, and it’s a video blog of the Stuttgart Library in Germany. 

I hope you like it and please don’t pay attention to my weird latin accent (unfortunately i can’t help it). 

David Hume as a librarian

     When you heard about David Hume, you may asociate the name to a philosophy wave developed trough the XVII century, because scepticism as empiricism are the subjects of his many books and papers. But that wasn’t all David Hume life . Actually, there was a time when he worked as librarian in the University of Edinburgh, during  his essayist period. And it was this time of his life what bring us now to this blog.   

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David Hume was born on 26 April 1711, in EdinburgScotland, and he died in 1776 at the age of 65 years. His life wasn’t easy,
and even been noble he hadn’t a large amount of resources. On top of that, his father died when he was only 2 years old so he was raised
by his mother alone.

humequote   His academic life started when he entered to University of Edinburg, at the age of 12 (when the standard age was 14). He tried to study law, but his real call was in philosophy and general learning, that is why he never graduated. He spend several years through a rigorous reading program, that allowed him to discover a new thinking and provoke his posterior collapse.

With no formal education and limited resources,  he found a way to recover his health while discovered new places and people, beside a french merchant named Michael Miller. During his time in France he kept writing and publishing his work and it would take many years before he return to England.

    When he finally set foot in England again, Hume had no work but his writing. He made numerous labors until he accepted a librarian post offered to him by the Faculty of Advocates from Edinburg University, the same place where he went in his early scholar time. The huge library allowed him to dive in enormous amounts of knowledge, what later gave fruits through his philosophical development.


“In 1952, the Faculty of Advocate choose me their librarian, an office from which i received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library ” (Hill, 1888)

   David Hume started his librarian career with no more qualifications than his love to books and a good library. And this library wasn’t little at all, it had 30.000 volumes restrained inside iron shelves and only a few of them were borrowed. The reading room was open only two hours in winter and four in summer. That is why its content was so precious both teachers and scholars. 

    But this new position wasn’t easily given to David Hume. In fact, like most of his past failed applications, this one was condemned since the beginning. Hume was an heretic, atheist and sceptical man in a world were those conditions weren’t good look at.  On January 28, 1952, the Faculty of Advocate put into a vote to decide if Hume was a good candidate and contrary to any prediction he was chosen the new keeper of the library and clerk of the faculty. Despite the Dean wishes, his friends inside the University made him won the position by vote. 

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    As keeper of the library, David Hume assumed every role related to the management: as circulation librarian and cataloger librarian. He took part in the catalog of 1742-1746, in which Walter Goodal (his assistant) helped him. 

    Besides, Hume not only manage to take care of the position that was in trust to him, but  he contributed with his book knowledge and add a very high quality  collection to the already complete library. Nevertheless, two years after he became the keeper he founded him self disabled to purchase another “indecent” book.  

  Hume eventually noticed that been a keeper was more a burden that a research paradise he thought it would be. He ended up resigning in January 4 of 1757. According to Harris (1966) “there is no concrete evidence, either in Hume’s letters or other contemporary documents relating to the cause of his resignation”, but we could say it was because the constant opposition from the university’s dean and curators. 

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  Even though his time as librarian was short (only five years), his writing production during those years had as a result the creation of one of the most significant contribution to the research and investigation of the history of England.

  Conforming to Morris (2009), his time as librarian gave him the opportunity to work on this new project which grant him the fame and recognition he always hope for. The History of England (origi
nally named “The History of Great Britain”) was published in six volumes during 1754, 1756, 1759 and 1762 becoming in his first best-seller which finally allowed him economic independence.

image credite


   David Hume died in August 25 of 1776 of intestinal cancer. He never married or had children, but he became one of the greatest scottish philosopher and contributed to human knowledge both for his new wave of thought and for the expansion of an already rich library collection.



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