“A very difficult time getting off the ground here”: HMML’s Path through Spanish Libraries (1973-1976)

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Forty years ago, Father Urban Steiner, OSB, moved the Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Project operations from Austria to Spain. Started in the same year as the microfilming projects in Ethiopia and Malta, the work in Spain was beset with obstacles and seemingly insurmountable problems from the beginning.

This presentation will follow Father Urban on his three-year odyssey through the libraries of Spain, especially Catalunya. Building a narrative out of the letters between Father Urban and Julian G. Plante, a picture emerges of a project that was not in the right place at the right time (unlike HMML’s work in Austria and more recently in the Middle East). And yet, the Spain project also produced major successes by filming collections that are still eagerly studied today.

This talk will present a balance of successes and failures from HMML’s Spain project spanning the years from 1973 to 1976.

Dr. Matthew Heintzelman is the Curator of the Austria / Germany Study Center and the Rare Book Cataloger for the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. He maintains the Books From the HMML Basement blog at booksfromthehmmlbasement.blogspot.com. Image: Matt Heintzelman (left) with Pater Gottfried Glassner, OSB, (right) in the library at Melk Abbey, Austria (December 2013).

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