The heart of the City of Halle houses one of the earliest Protestant church libraries in Germany, the Marienbibliothek at the Marktkirche, established in 1552. It was founded in response to a call from Martin Luther aimed at the cities and towns in order to create Protestant schools and libraries, thus facilitating education on all levels of society. To the present day, this Reformation issue of concern is reflected in the goals of the library, which possesses extensive holdings of both Reformation writings and later publications on all scientific fields.
In 1698, carrying the reformatory educational ideals forward, August Hermann Francke founded the Orphanage Library, which also possesses rich holdings dating from the sixteenth century and preserves evidence of the global dissemination of Lutheranism by means of Pietism.
The important function of libraries as storehouses of knowledge and memory becomes demonstrated in the exhibition with the help of items housed at these two major Halle libraries. On the occasion of the Reformation anniversary, the focus lies on the heritage of Protestantism. Visitors come across the presentation of various pieces of the collection, leading along early Reformation printed works and the unique private library of the noble family of Selmenitz towards the Pietist reception of Reformation writings, foreign language Bibles serving missionary work up to the library comprising a refuge for memory objects such as Luther's drinking cup or Melanchthon’s shoe. The eventful history of a statue portraying Luther exhibited in the Marienbibliothek until the twentieth century, and designed after the reformer’s death mask preserved here, is also highlighted in the exhibition.