The Francisceum is a public library with a historical character, housed in a charming former Franciscan monastery in Zerbst/Anhalt. In 1803, pointed arch shelves were installed in the cross vault of the former dormitory of the monks. Today, these shelves hold about 20,000 of the over 47,000 volumes of the library’s old stock. The beginnings of the library date back to 1582, when Prince Joachim Ernst founded the first university in Zerbst, the “Gymnasium illustre Anhaltinum”. The bibliophilic treasures include manuscripts and incunabula from the 9th to 15th centuries, Reformation writings and special collections such as Anhaltinia, funeral sermons, music and various Baroque prints. Other items, such as the map of the Cockaigne (Schlaraffenland) from 1720 and the unicorn from Conrad Gesner’s animal book from 1583, are on display during guided tours of the historic library.