The Salzburg Collection
Bibliotheca Archiepiscopalis Salisburgensis
Collectio Iuridica Library of the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Salzburg
Law Collection Die Bibliothek des Erzbischöflichen Priesterseminars zu Salzburg,
The Salzburg Collection is one of the most important collections in Canada for Central European law studies. It represents the original law collection of the Seminary Library of the Archbishop of Salzburg, acquired by the University of Alberta in 1965. The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library houses the pre-1800 publications, considered rare books. The newer, post-1800 publications, which represent about half of the collection, are housed in other locations, including the John A. Weir Memorial Law Library, the Book and Records Depository, and the Humanities and Social Sciences Library.
Following the recommendations of the Tridentine Council (Tridentinischer Konzil) of 1562, the Salzburg Provincial Council (Salzburger Provinzialkonzil) established the Archiepiscopal Seminary in Salzburg (Erzbischöfliches Priesterseminar zu Salzburg) with its decree of May 25, 1579. Its first statutes were written and signed in July 1579 by the rector, Georg Würfel. The library was founded at the same time as the seminary, with books contributed by the private library of the Archbishop.
The seminary library received more encouragement after Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau became Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1587. In this period the archbishops of Salzburg were vested with temporal power, and were the reigning princes of the district. Von Raitenau in particular left his mark on his country. For example, he had a clear understanding of the need for schools and made large sums of money available for the library. The size of the seminary's library was significant. A count in 1598 showed 650 volumes, which was a large library for its time. In 1641 there were 1330 volumes.
The manner in which the University of Alberta acquired the collection is as intriguing as are the holdings of the collection for scholars. Former history professor Dr Helen Liebel-Weckowicz was in Vienna in the summer of 1965 doing research in that city's great archives and attending a conference. Her specialty at that time was eighteenth-century Austrian politics and history. An inveterate hunter of antiquarian book stores, she discovered that the Archbishop of Salzburg was planning to sell the law library of the Archiepiscopal See in order to raise funds for a new seminary. Rare books dealer Hans Geyer was handling the matter, and mentioned to Dr Liebel-Weckowicz over lunch that the collection had not yet been put on the market.
She immediately wrote to Collections Librarian Gustav Hermansen at the University of Alberta and explained the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire 3,500 printed volumes (over 2,800 titles) from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, with special strengths in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Liebel-Weckowicz was particularly excited about the old handbooks and source collections, which she had never even dared hope to acquire for the University of Alberta, a relatively young university. Some American libraries were very interested when word leaked out, but one institution had no proper library building at the time, while another had few MA students in history. The University of Alberta had forty-seven that year.
Acquiring the Salzburg Collection was made a little easier because during the 1960s many graduate programs were being inaugurated. That meant the Library was also acquiring many major collections to support the new programs. An annual book budget of $1 million was generous enough then to allow the Library to do so. There was also great enthusiasm then among many Arts faculty members for creating a Renaissance Studies Centre on campus. The Salzburg Collection seems to have been thought of, in part, as a building block for such future plans. While the dream of a Renaissance Studies Centre was never realized, the University is now home to the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, established in 1998. The naming of the Institute was intended to honour the generous endowment of Dr. Manfred and Mr. Alfred Wirth.
The Salzburg Collection leans heavily toward canon law, of course, but it covers all aspects of law and the different fields of jurisprudence: civil, canon, Church, Roman, criminal, commercial, and constitutional, as well as history and philosophy of law. It contains important source materials and a wealth of secondary literature on law. Also included are books documenting the history, politics, and culture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of the Holy Roman Empire, and of other European countries, regions and societies throughout the centuries of the Early Modern and Modern Era. Half of this literature was published before 1800. About 250 volumes were published before 1600, the oldest book of which is an incunable from 1488. A large proportion of the books in the Collection library are consequently now very scarce and would be hard to replace. Geographically, the Collection covers Central Europe (mainly Austria-Hungary, Germany, France, and Italy), but other nations are well represented, too.
Scholars whose fields fall within the boundaries of the Salzburg Collection are usually delighted and awed by it, spending days poring over a variety of the weighty, oversized volumes which are bound in pigskin or sheets of vellum. An ambitious scholar could even just examine the various designs on the covers to find out where they came from, and try to spot all the medieval material in the bindings, since often medieval manuscripts peek out where endpapers have become loose. About thirty of the books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been bound in vellum cut out of older manuscripts. The vellum is mainly from choir books and mass books from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Perhaps most fascinating is a book bound in two leaves of a manuscript written in a clear Carolingian Minuscule about the year 1000 (call number: KV R414 1641). No doubt this is the oldest piece of literature in Edmonton. Another jewel of the collection is the already mentioned incunable Sup prima infortiati parte vi delicet super titulo solu. ma. de liberis et posthu. d.vulg.et pupil.et acquir.here, by Alexander de Tartagni de Imola (call number: BX 1985 T18 1488 folio).