Reading Monastic History in Bookbinding Waste: Collecting, digitizing and interpreting fragments from Mondsee Abbey
Abstract: Shortly after its foundation in 748, the Benedictine monastery of Mondsee became an important centre for book production in Upper Austria. The librarians renewed their holdings over several phases of increased activity. In the fifteenth century, old and outdated books fell into the hands of the monastic binders, who cut up and reused them as binding waste for new manuscripts, incunabula or archival materials. These fragments often offer the only clues we have for the existence of specific texts in the monastic library and should be regarded as important sources for the study of the liturgical, scholarly and everyday life of Mondsee. This paper summarises the challenges to gathering, identifying, describing, and digitizing the material, the approach taken to achieve these ends, and an initial evaluation of Mondsee fragments used as binding waste.
Keywords: Mondsee Abbey, in situ fragments, incunables, binding waste, digitization, library history