The Monastery Library
The Stiftsbibliothek of Novacella is among the most beautiful library halls in the Southern German-speaking area, representing a repository of knowledge accumulated over many centuries. It may be used for academic purposes after prior registration in writing or by phone. The Stiftsbibliothek is a reference library only (no lending).
The library collection
The library hall houses about 20,000 volumes; the Stiftsbibliothek owns about 98,000 volumes in total, most of which date from before 1900. As early as at the end of the fifteenth century, the Augsburg Dominican Felix Faber expressed his astonishment about the “good library” in Novacella in his travel log. And indeed, since the late Middle Ages, and despite great losses due to several fires, the 1525 Peasant War, and the abbey’s dissolution in 1807, the Stiftsbibliothek has represented the largest of the many Tyrolean abbey libraries to this very day.
The library’s greatest treasure is represented by the many medieval manuscripts covering the most varied subject areas. The majority of the handwritten books date back to the fifteenth century and clearly demonstrate the cultural blossoming of the abbey at that time. The original collection also includes more than 800 incunabula. In 1809, numerous books and manuscripts were taken to Innsbruck. While, after the restoration of the abbey in 1816, the return of the books was promised for the following year already, it did not happen until 1833. In the process, Propst Leopold Erlacher relinquished books that had already been catalogued, the incunabula collection, and the manuscripts. But Innsbruck did ultimately have to return 99 codices to the Italian state in 1921 due to the peace treaty of St. Germain. Today, they are back in Novacella.
The first catalogs were the work of Franz X. Grass: he published a printed catalog entitled Raritas librorum in bibliotheca Neocellensi [Rare Books at the Neustifter Bibliothek], followed in 1789 by a Verzeichnis typographischer Denkmäler aus dem 15. Jahrhundert [An Index of Typographic Monuments from the Fifteenth Century], adding Verzeichnis der Büchermerkwürdigkeiten aus dem 16. und 17. Jahrhundert [An Index of Curious Books from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries] a year later. A few years ago, all of the books were catalogued in the context of the Erfassung Historischer Bibliotheken (Recording Historical Libraries) project and are now searchable in the Opac catalog. The Stiftsbibliothek’s manuscripts, which have also been catalogued recently, are accessible via the manuscripta.at web portal.