Welcome to the Gerry and Anna Maier Special Collections Reading Room! Here, you’ll find a wonderful assortment of published materials that are rare, valuable, and hold significant cultural and historical importance. Our collection is carefully curated thanks to the generosity of philanthropic visionaries and donors who share our passion for preserving these unique treasures.

Our team ensures that these special materials are treated with the utmost care, employing specialized handling and storage practices to ensure their longevity and growth for generations to come. This dedicated space is environmentally controlled to maintain the perfect conditions for these valuable items.

Within our collections, you’ll discover over 1200 volumes with publication dates spanning from 1566 to the present day. We have a strong focus on early Canadiana, pre-Confederation Canada, Catholic Studies, French early presence in Western Canada, and First Nations contact. You’ll find a variety of gems, including first editions, aesthetically significant works, and books in various languages like Latin, French, German, and more, all of which cater to Mediæval studies enthusiasts.

In addition to our physical collections, we also maintain a directory of Archives’ available resources. Please note that while not all of these resources are searchable in the library’s search system, our knowledgeable staff is here to assist you in discovering the digital treasures we have available.

Feel free to explore, study and immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural heritage that our Special Collections have to offer. We’re delighted to have you here and look forward to assisting you on your journey of discovery!


Our library is home to many different collections that can be viewed in the Reading Room such as:

The Saint John’s Bible

The Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible (SJB) is a transformational resource, fulfilling a mission to proclaim through scholarship and art the salvation of Christ to the world. This is the first handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by Benedictine monks in over 500 years. The seven volumes of this glorious work display the artistry of calligraphers and illuminators who spent over 14 years bringing this gold and platinum-finished work to fruition. This treasured resource is on display in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The acquisition of the seven volumes of The Saint John’s Bible for St. Mary’s University was made possible through the generous support of Gerry and Anna Maier, Stan and Marge Owerko, John Cordeau and Carolyn Philips, and two anonymous benefactors.

Hereford Mappa Mundi facsimile

At 1.34 metres (5’2” by 4’4”), the original map is constructed on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin). Scholars believe it was made around the year 1300 and shows the history, geography and destiny of humanity as it was understood in Christian Europe in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The Hereford Mappa Mundi was acquired for the St. Basil’s Library through the generous donation of Rev. Brian Hubka.

Vatican Council II multi-volume set

A rich primary source of the authoritative texts of the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965). This resource was recently acquired and has not yet been catalogued.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society archival collection

The CPAWS archival collection is a large collection that includes a Resource Library, a Map collection, and archival documents. CPAWS is a provincial and national organization dedicated to protecting Canada’s wilderness. The collection includes documents on their various activism efforts in Banff National Park, the Whaleback region of Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and many other National Parks and areas in Canada.

Herbarium Sheet Collection

A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens used for the purpose of scientific study. Each sheet is accompanied by identifying information that contextualizes the specimen. St. Mary University’s herbarium collection consists of specimen collected in Calgary, Alberta, including Fish Creek Park, located near the University, as well as Kananaskis, Alberta National Parks, and various other Alberta locations.

Our Herbarium collection is currently comprised of over 2400 records, with more being added on a scheduled basis. The collection is currently in the process of digitization, and digital images will be added to the records for online viewing and downloading.

Visiting the Reading Room

When visiting the StMU Reading Room, please keep in mind these rules to ensure that our collections stay safe and accessible for everyone.

  • No food or drink in the room or in bags.
  • Leave bags and backpacks on the stand by the front door.
  • Use one item at a time.
  • Materials must be handled carefully –
    • Hands must be washed
    • Use gloves provided
  • No pens, post-it notes, flags, paper clips, or highlighters
  • Return books to the desk. Please do not shelve materials
  • Special Collections materials may only be imaged using the eScan book scanner. Please bring a USB to save images.
  • Follow cell phone policy (turn phone to silent)