Transnational Access: Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek Mainz (JGU Mainz)

Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek Mainz/Municipal Academic Library Mainz, Germany (Partner of JGU Mainz)

Free Access to Physical and Virtual Sources

This library is offering free access to physical and virtual sources under the guidance of experts in the framework of ReIReS.


The Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Academic Library) owns 670.000 media units, among them 1300 manuscripts and the holdings of the secularized convents of Mainz and of the old University library (founded 1477, dissolved in 1793). Here F. Dolbeau discovered 26 formerly unknown sermons of Saint Augustine in 1990/91 (cf. May/Hönscheid 2003).

Manuscripts and Rara

Two-thirds of the 1300 manuscripts date back to the Middle Ages. For the predominantly late medieval manuscripts, the library of the Mainz Charterhouse, dissolved in 1781, is the most important provenance, and next to it the Carmelites, the Benedictine monastery of St. Jacob, the Jesuit College, the Capuchins, the Augustinian Hermits and the old Mainz University.

All manuscripts up to 1600 are filmed. A larger number of manuscripts is already available at Digitization is constantly being supplemented.

The manuscripts were catalogued in an extensive project (1990–2006), financed by the DFG (German Research Council) and were since integrated in the database “Manuscripta Mediaevalia” (cf. From October 2017 on, the work of the not yet catalogued inventory by 1700 is continued in another DFG project. Modern manuscripts from 1800 onwards are successively proven in the online catalogue.

The Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek also owns seven oriental manuscripts (Hs II 427, Hs II 429 to Hs II 434) from the period between 1554 and 1680. Four codices present the Koran, three volumes contain a Turkish translation of a Persian biography of Mohammed, an Arabic collection of legal documents, and texts on medicine in Turkish. Most of the manuscripts reached Mainz in 1686 via Baron Johann Karl von Thüngen from the library of Buda as a loot. They are indexed in the database KOHD of the project “Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland (KOHD)”

Some of the manuscripts represent the type of the oriental sumptuous manuscript and correspond to the design principles for Persian and Turkish splendid bindings.


In addition to book manuscripts and autographs, the library has a collection of fragments with significant Hebrew manuscript fragments, Latin fragments from the Mainz scriptorium of the 9th century, and German fragments, which are proven in the database “Handschriftencensus”. Most recently, the late Carolingian fragment of an illustrated Beda commentary on the Apocalypse attracted international attention. The entry of the fragments in the database “Manuscripta Mediaevalia” is developed successively.

Holdings from the Former Monastery Libraries

Especially the printed holdings from the former Carthusian and Carmelite libraries in the Stadtbibliothek are unique. They are chiefly of a theological nature and mirror the active religious reflection in the convents between the late middle ages and the Enlightenment. The convents were dissolved already by the Elector of Mainz in the 1780s and the manuscripts and books given to the University of Mainz, which had been taken away from the Jesuits and reformed in the spirit of Catholic Enlightenment.

The library promotes active research, e.g. with a reconstruction and analysis of the Carmelite library from its earliest records in the 1530s until the secularisation of the monastery in 1802. 1594 volumes of Carmelite provenance could be detected, including 39 manuscripts and 289 incunabula by 1520, what provides an important contribution to provenance research and anthropological library historiography (cf. Ottermann 2018).

The reconstruction of monastic book collections aims for bringing together scattered historical ensembles and for recovering buried knowledge of the reading interests of clerical communities. The collection of the Mainz Carmelite Library now is accessible for the first time as a source for interdisciplinary research.


Fields of Research (Non-obligatory Suggestions)

Provenance research on secularised monasteries and on private libraries, research on mediaeval manuscripts and medieval manuscript fragments.

Bibliography (Selection)

Lehnardt, Andreas/Ottermann, Annelen: Fragmente jüdischer Kultur in der Stadtbibliothek Mainz. Entdeckungen und Deutungen (Veröffentlichungen der Bibliotheken der Stadt Mainz 62), Mainz 2014:

Licht, Tino/Ottermann, Annelen: Aus der Frühzeit der Mainzer Skriptorien: Ein unbekanntes karolingisches Handschriftenfragment (Mainz, Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek, Hs frag 20), in: BIBLIOTHEK – Forschung und Praxis 41 (2017), p. 103–114.

May, Gerhard/Hönscheid, Geesche (ed.), Die Mainzer Augustinus-Predigten. Studien zu einem Jahrhundertfund, Mainz 2003.

Ottermann, Annelen: Entdeckungen an Einbänden aus der ehemaligen Bibliothek der Mainzer Karmeliten. Kurt Hans Staub zum 80. Geburtstag am 27.4.2013, in: Einband-Forschung. Informationsblatt des Arbeitskreises für die Erfassung, Erschließung und Erhaltung historischer Bucheinbände, vol. 32, n. April 2013, p. 11–28:

Ottermann, Annelen/Embach, Michael/Klein, Peter K./Crivello, Fabrizio/Ferrari, Michele C./Cinato, Franck/Huber, Konrad/Winterer, Christoph/Schipper, William/Fuchs, Robert/Oltrogge, Doris: Das spätkarolingische Fragment eines illustrierten Apokalypse-Kommentars in der Mainzer Stadtbibliothek. Bilanz einer interdisziplinären Annäherung (Veröffentlichungen der Bibliotheken der Stadt Mainz 60), Mainz 2014:

Ottermann, Annelen: Die Mainzer Karmelitenbibliothek. Schlaglichter auf einen rekonstruierten Wissensraum, in: Hellenbrand, Karl-Hein/Schmid, Wolfgang/Trautmann, Patrick: Schöne Bilderhandschriften (Libri Pretiosi – Mitteilungen der Bibliophilen Gesellschaft Trier e.V.), Trier 2017, p. 25–42:

Ottermann, Annelen: Provenienzerschließung am Altbestand – ein Blick auf den HeBIS-Verbund und die Wissenschaftlichen Stadtbibliothek Mainz. Zugleich ein exemplarischer Bericht über ein Provenienzforschungsprojekt, Buch und Bibliothek 2017/H. 5, p. 252–257.

Ottermann, Annelen: Die Mainzer Karmelitenbibliothek. Spurensuche – Spurensicherung – Spurendeutung (Berliner Arbeiten zur Bibliotheks- und Informationswissenschaft 27, 1–2), 2 vols., 2nd ed. Berlin 2018.


  • Access to the digital and physical materials and instruments, files and databases available through the provider (with respect of the authorial and intellectual property rights);
  • Contact to experts that assist them in dealing with the services of the provider institution and in using these services for the proper development of their research project;
  • Support in dealing with the services of the provider institution and in using these services for the proper development of their research project.


Rheinallee 3B
D-55116 Mainz


Alexandra Nusser M. A.

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Image: Books from the former Mainz Carmelite Library, Photo: Annelen Ottermann.