The Seminary Library

The origins of the Seminary Library date back to October 1756. The financial foundations and the first bequests bear the name of the Bishop of Malta, Paul Alpheran de Bussan. In its first years, the Library was very limited in its resources. Eventually, it started to expand thanks to the personal collections of books bequeathed by priests, a generous tradition which has continued to this day. Its earliest benefactors included the patriot Dun Mikiel Xerri (1737-1799), and in recent years, Mgr Joseph Sapiano, Mgr Joseph Lupi and Can. Benjamin Tonna.

The Library today possesses well over 30000 books, besides a vast collection of over 350 periodicals. As expected, the Library is mainly a philosophical and theological one; yet, sections in psychology, sociology, politics and history are also present. A rich Melitensia section forms part of the Library.

The Library’s long history includes its earliest phase when the Seminary was in Mdina, followed by the years at Floriana (when the small library of the Casa di Manresa retreat house was eventually absorbed by the Seminary collection after World War II), and its current phase at Tal-Virtù. When Archbishop Mercieca transferred the Major Seminary to its current location in 1978, a phase of rapid expansion was inaugurated, especially on account of a separate and spacious wing which had already been used as a library by the Mater Admirabilis Training College (1954-1973).

1978 was an eventful year in other respects, too, because the Faculty of Theology which had been ousted from the University of Malta commenced its ten-year stay at Tal-Virtù as an autonomous institution. This meant a new phase in the history of the Seminary Library, namely the housing of two libraries under one roof and one joint administration. The books purchased by the Faculty of Theology until 1988 remained at Tal-Virtù after the Faculty’s re-incorporation in the University of Malta in 1988. The Foundation for Theological Studies, established in September 1988 proceeded with the Faculty’s former commitments to the Library.

Since then, the Seminary/Foundation Library, as it is now called, continued to expand its services. In 1997, a spacious extension was constructed to house the vast periodical holdings. This was inaugurated in February 1999 by Archbishop Mercieca. A specialised section on the Maltese Clergy was also also launched on the same occasion.

When the Catholic Institute Library at Floriana closed down in the mid-1990s, the authorities decided to transfer that 5000-strong collection to the Seminary/Foundation Library. This herculean task was accomplished in February 2005.

Library Committee coordinates the functioning of the Library and assists the Library staff. The Library caters primarily for the seminarians in their academic preparation for the priesthood. The Library is also open to University students, the clergy and other bona fide borrowers.