Would you believe it if we told you that one man was able to collect over 70,000 books over his lifetime? The answer is probably yes, don’t we all think we have that many books hiding throughout the nooks and crannies of our homes? Well, this former mining engineer restructured his life to accomodate his personal library! It’s almost like this private library was his best kept secret!
I’m not one to support or promote stereotypes, however (!) whatever fantasy or idealistic version of Germany that you have cooked up in your fantastical literary minds is exactly what the town of Mettingen looks like. Talk about a tourist’s wet dream! I mean, just look at aesthetically pleasing this town is (yes, we’re talking about aesthetics for half a second)!
Mettingen, North Rhine-Westphalia
As fun as Mettingen looks, you’re not here for that! I know what you want to see. You want library porn! Let me tell you a little bit about Bruno Schröder, the bookish collector that we’re honoring today.
Bruno was a mining engineer for most of his life. In his free time–and later during retirement–he spent his days browsing the shelves of a local bookshop.
As his collection began to grow, the single-family home that he shared with his wife, simply wasn’t offering enough storage for his wares.
Never fear though, for Bruno has the training to know just how much his home could take and what he would need to build to assist it! He crafted the majority of the shelving and storage for his massive secret library.
Every. single. square. foot. of. his. house. is. covered. in. books.
Immediately upon entry, guests are greeted with a carefully curated and organized obsession. You’d never guess it from the apparently unassuming exterior of Bruno’s home–but we book lovers know to never judge books by their covers!
From the basement that was encased by over 10,000 thrillers–all meticulously sectioned by publisher–to the attic with its slanted shelves, Bruno was living large in his bookish life.
Like walking through the shelves of an older library or a less-than-characteristic bookseller, it’s easy to find oneself getting lost among the rows and rows of books that Bruno kept in his hidden library. Unless you were sitting in the kitchen or powdering your nose, you might as well be alongside David Bowie!
However, Bruno was not immune to playing favorites. He was particularly fond of Arno Schmidt, a German author, whose works Bruno kept in glass showcases. This affinity didn’t stop Bruno from accumulating a mass of poetry, fiction novels and non-fiction works! The only thing his bookseller said he would never buy was romance books! (I don’t know if Bruno and I would’ve been friends!)
Just like a regular public library, Bruno was working on digitally cataloging his collection–including the works themselves and notable reviews of newer publications!
Unfortunately, Bruno Schröder passed in early June of 2022. However, he spent his final days with his books, refusing to leave his life’s passion even at the very end. Bruno is survived by his wife, who is living peacefully in a full care facility in Germany.
You might be baffled by Bruno’s innovation, and you wouldn’t be the only one! His estate manager, Renate Abeln was also shocked. When evaluating how to proceed with Bruno’s collection, he had no children to pass the legacy onto–she sought assistance from a construction specialist. The specialist remarked that there was no need to worry for the structural integrity of the home!
This may not seem shocking, but just think about this for a second. Bruno managed to house (and love) over 70,000 books in his single-family home in Germany. Now, I’m not a math major (that’s my roommate), but thankfully Guido Kleinhubbert already did the math for us:
Here’s the issue now.
Think about the market at the moment. We’re all clambering for the latest and greatest, even when it comes to books. Hell, I was talking about aesthetics at the beginning of this article! People aren’t looking to buy used books, especially the paperbacks that Bruno stocked. Not only that, most places don’t have the room for massive behemoth collections like Bruno’s hidden library.
As I mentioned before, Bruno and his wife never had children, so there wasn’t anyone to pass the books onto. His estate manager originally wanted to sell the entire collection together, and at one point had a buyer! The buyer was willing to pay 7,000 euros (about 7,600 USD) but they’ve since backed out of the deal.
So the Bruno’s collection sits and waits for judgment day. It’s very rare that a complete estate stock of this size is sold, especially with only print books! Not to mention the grueling process that the seller has to endure to even get the books properly registered for sale–which with antique books typically aren’t accepted.
What do you think about Bruno’s secret, hidden library? Despite not knowing how this story ends, we’re enamored with the accomplishment that is Bruno’s collection!
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