In 1965, Saint John's University took a bold and visionary step with the creation of a new library dedicated to the preservation of priceless manuscripts held in European monasteries and libraries. The holdings of what came to be known as the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library have grown to number more than 90,000 manuscripts on microfilm--nearly 30 million pages. Over the years HMML has filmed broadly, from Sweden to Ethiopia, Germany to Malta. In 2003, HMML began a major Eastern Mediterranean initiative in Lebanon and will soon add manuscripts from Syria and Turkey. Such growth speaks powerfully to the importance of our mission in a part of the world beset by great turmoil and uncertainty.
At the same time HMML was growing, Saint John's received the gift of the Arca Artium collection, building upon its existing collections of rare books and art. In recent years, The Saint John's Bible has become an important project of Saint John's University and of the Abbey. It seems natural that these various entities, dedicated as they are to art, culture, and the spiritual imagination, be organized as one. Accordingly, in 2004 the Saint John's Board of Regents approved new statutes of operation and a new name for HMML, suggesting a welcoming space for visitors to view displays from our art, rare book and manuscript collections and from The Saint John's Bible. Happily, the acronym HMML remains: the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.
As long as they have existed, manuscripts have been threatened by fire, flood, theft and civil disturbance. Shortly after World War II, a war that had been catastrophic for manuscripts, Pope Pius XII asked Father Colman Barry of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, about the future fate of manuscripts.
The most recent cataloguing achievement of the Hill Library is the production of an online manuscript catalogue. In association with the Electronic Access to Medieval Manuscripts Project, HMML assembled an international team to develop the first electronic manuscript cataloguing standards for document descriptions in both MARC and SGML format. HMML's online catalogue, developed in collaboration with Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, incorporates these standards. An initial catalogue listing of all of HMML microfilmed collections was made available to the public online in December 2000. It is already a vital resource for manuscript and archival research.
HMML long had one of the world's largest collections of incipit files to aid in the identification of texts and authors in the manuscripts they had filmed. This led in the early 1990s to cooperation with l'Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes (IRHT) and Brepols to create In Principio, an essential resource for scholars.
The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML), home of The Saint John's Bible, is located in the Bush Center at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The main entrance to the library is by stairs. If anyone in your party requires a non-stair accessible entrance, please contact Linda Orzechowski at (320) 363-3514 to make arrangements.
HMML and the HMML gift shop are open weekdays 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day, noon to 4:00 pm. The Gallery and The Saint John's Bible display are free of charge and open to the public during regular business hours. Walk-ins are welcomed, but we ask that large groups schedule in advance by calling Linda Orzechowski at 320-363-3514.
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