The first visits to the restored building began on Saturday at 10 a.m., a spokeswoman for the city, owner of the site classified as a historic monument, told AFP.
Former convent of the fourteenth century, the library “contains the written memory of Alsace since the Middle Ages”, underlined during a press visit Rémy Casin, its chief curator.
Among its 400,000 documents are 2,300 incunabula, books from the beginnings of printing in the second part of the 15th century, “i.e. the most important fund in the country for these works after that of the National Library of France”, recalled Eric Straumann , mayor (LR) of Colmar.
The jewel of this collection is a bible by the printer Johannes Mentelin dating from 1460, “one of the first books printed in Europe, five years after that of Gutenberg”, noted Mr. Casin.
The collection also includes 1,800 manuscripts, the oldest of which dates back to the 8th century, 35,000 books from the 16th to the 18th centuries, 21,000 old prints and drawings, as well as 40,000 alsatics, old or contemporary works and documents dealing with Alsace.
Municipal library, the place is accessible free of charge to the public to visit it, as well as to consult or borrow certain most recent works, but the most precious funds are reserved for researchers, explained the town hall.
Also including a rare bookbinding workshop, this library will permanently exhibit around a hundred works temporarily extracted from the collections.
This place, a Dominican convent until the Revolution, then had several assignments, notably becoming a gendarmerie barracks before being transformed after the last world war into a library.
Its restoration represented an investment of 19 million euros and was designed by Stefan Manciulescu, chief architect of Historic Monuments with the Ameller architectural firm