St. Bonaventure University

Institute & Holy Name Libraries

The Library of the Franciscan Institute, one of the special collections of Friedsam Memorial Library at St. Bonaventure University, holds more than 8,000 volumes, 110 current periodical subscriptions and 470 other periodical titles. The Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute protects the university's collection of rare books, described by the National Endowment for the Humanities as "a unique national asset of great value to American humanistic scholarship."

Franciscan Institute Library

In its coverage of the Franciscan movement, this collection is unique in North and South America and can only be matched by a few European libraries.

The Franciscan Institute Collection supports research on campus and by various scholars worldwide.  The circulating collection is housed in the main library, while the Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute, a 2008 addition to the library, protects the rare materials in the collection.

The collection is rich in its coverage of medieval scholasticism. But along with an emphasis on the Middle Ages, the collection also covers all aspects of Franciscan life from that time to the present day. There is an abundance of material for studying the constitutional history of the Franciscan Order in its various branches, both the male and female congregations, as well as that of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Liturgical books of  the Order are included (i.e. missals, breviaries, psalters, martyrologies, etc.). There is a wealth of material concerning Franciscan spirituality in its theoretical and practical aspects, as well as its concrete application and example in the lives of the Franciscan saints and blesseds. Other materials address Franciscan contributions to evangelization, music, poetry, art and architecture.

The Franciscan Institute Library brings together works not only in English, but in all of the major European languages, with a sampling of materials in other languages as well.

A major aspect of the holdings of the Franciscan Institute is the rare book collection. This collection consists of medieval and modern manuscripts, incunabula and books published from the 16th to the 18th centuries. There is also a large collection of microfilmed manuscripts of various late medieval philosophers and theologians.

The Franciscan Institute Library had its origin in the 1940's at St. Bonaventure University even before the Institute itself was established.  Along with new purchases, materials have been added over the years from many other Franciscan study centers.  The first, and largest, such acquisition was the Franciscana and rare book collections from Holy Name College (Washington, D.C.).  The rare book collections of both Duns Scotus College (Detroit, Michigan) and St. Francis Friary (Burlington, Wisconsin) along with Franciscan materials from Mary Immaculate Capuchin Friary (Garrison, New York) have also been added.

About the Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute Addition

The Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute protects the university's collection of rare books, described by the National Endowment for the Humanities as "a unique national asset of great value to American humanistic scholarship." 

It includes the most important collection of Franciscana in North America, more than 9,000 rare books and manuscripts dating from the 12th century up to and including the seminal journals of renowned monastic Thomas Merton, who taught English at St. Bonaventure in the early 1940s. It also holds collections from various provincial and college libraries that were entrusted to St. Bonaventure when those institutions closed. 

The addition protects this stunning collection with state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical, security and fire suppression systems, housed in a climate-controlled vault-like structure surrounded by a glass-enclosed walkway. The interior includes high-density shelving to maximize floor space and efficiency. 

A well supplies the building with 50-degree water for the air conditioning system. It is a significant green element of the building designed to save the university money as well as protect the environment. 

The design of the addition, rather than replicating the existing structure, complements both the original library and the 1970s addition with an assemblage of materials and textures. 

The terra cotta roofing that for decades has helped distinguish the St. Bonaventure campus is incorporated into the design, with high-performance glass offering a way to safely open the reading rooms and common areas to beautiful southerly views and to integrate with the glass and brick of the 1970s addition. 

The addition is set back from the main north facade, providing an outdoor contemplative garden area. At night, the glass walkway surrounding the inner building core is lit, showcasing the unique design.