Hill Monastic Manuscript Library Safeguards Renaissance and Medieval Manuscripts Threatened by Augu

Bookmark and Share

September 17, 2002

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn.- The Hill Monastic Manuscript Library at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., has been integral to the preservation of medieval and renaissance manuscripts threatened by the August floods in Europe. Nearly 40,000 manuscripts, which were originally filmed in six cities in Germany and Austria, including Salzburg, Vienna, Regensburg, Klosterneuburg, Melk and Linz, were spared from waters of the unexpected deluge in Austria, the eastern regions of Germany and in the Czech Republic.

Nonetheless, these libraries had planned for potential disasters. Over the past 40 years, these libraries have opened their doors to HMML's teams of researchers and technicians who worked to safeguard these ancient treasures against natural disasters and potential unstable environments by recording each piece on microfilm, cataloguing the films and storing them in the archives of the University's main library.

"The destruction of cultural legacy such as these manuscripts happens quickly and is irreversible," said Matthew Heintzelman, associate director of the HMML. "We were very concerned about the state of the libraries in Austria and Germany where we have filmed and were relieved to know that they have fared fine. However, we regret the loss and damage to libraries in parts of eastern Germany and in the Czech Republic."

"The floods that have recently raged through Europe are testament to the significance of HMML's mission to protect and preserve medieval and renaissance manuscripts and texts," affirmed Ronald M. Bosrock, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Austria.

In the aftermath of the widespread flooding, Heintzelman has contacted several libraries along the Danube to ascertain the status of manuscripts. "While HMML has not filmed in these places, our interest in the preservation of manuscripts in these areas adds to our concern," he said. "We are hoping that recently endangered collections that we have not filmed will respond to our willingness to collaborate with them in making safe copies of their holdings."

HMML's filming in these German and Austrian cities spans four decades from the earliest filming at Kremsmunster in Austria in 1965 to more recent work at the Fürst Thurn und Taxis Library in Regensburg in 2000.

The Hill Monastic Manuscript Library is dedicated to the preservation of medieval and renaissance manuscripts for the benefit of future generations. Since 1965, HMML has filmed manuscript collections at the national libraries of Austria, Portugal, Malta and Sweden and has continued this project at scores of other libraries in countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Spain and Germany. HMML has assembled a collection of nearly 90,000 manuscripts on microfilm and serves scholars and the general public around the world.