The Diocesan Library in Västerås dates from the Middle Ages. Today it is a department within Västerås City Library.
The Middle Ages and the Reformation Period
The first records of a book collection in Västerås date from the middle of the 13 th century. A Dominican friary had been founded at that time and a document still preserved from this period reveals the use of books by the friars. To our knowledge only one of these books remains.
The Diocesan Library originates from the medieval cathedral library, first mentioned in an inventory from 1317. It consisted mostly of missals, manuals and other service books and text books for the cathedral school. Little is known about the library before the 17 th century.
Bishop Johannes Rudbeckius’s term of office (1619-1646) was a time of great development within the field of education. Sweden’s first secondary school was founded in Västerås in 1623. Building a larger library collection was a natural part of the bishop’s plans for the education of clergymen and students. Books and manuscripts were donated by the bishop himself and his successors as well as by other persons both within and outside the ecclesiastical world. One of them was Lars Grubbe, assistant governor in Stockholm and officer in the Thirty Years War. Books which were trophies from wars on the continent were also donated to the library at that time as well as later on. The 18 th century was a time of expansion as the library received great donations of books and manuscripts. The foremost donor was Abraham Abrahamsson Hülphers, a Västerås merchant and ironmaster. At the end of the century he bequeathed his large collections of manuscripts and books to the Diocesan Library. These collections are still of great value for research in Swedish history of music, topography and genealogy. The library also received books and manuscripts, which had once belonged to Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld, linguist, archives researcher and courtier.
The 19 th and 20th Centuries
At the beginning of the 19 th century the library received some valuable book collections from the estates of two bishops, Lars Benzelstierna in Västerås and Carl Fredrik Muhrbeck in Visby.
The library was placed in the cathedral as well as in adjacent school buildings until the middle of the 19 th century when it was moved to a special room in a new school-building, the present Rudbeckianska gymnasiet. In 1917, a special library building was erected close to the Chapter house. In 1955, the collections were transferred once more, this time to the new Diocesan and State County Library building.
In 1975 the Diocesan and State County Library was municipalized and is now called Västerås City Library. The old books and manuscripts passed into the ownership of the City of Västerås.
Books and Pamphlets
There are some 45,000 volumes from the 15 th century onwards, covering nearly every subject. About one third is theological literature, mostly in Latin or German. There are 139 incunabula, i.e. books printed until 1500. However, the major part is 17 th and 18 th century books on history, genealogy, geography and philology, written in Swedish and other languages. There are also more than 20,000 pamphlets, representing mainly three categories, namely dissertations, ordinances and prints for special occasions. Most of the 17 th and 18 th century dissertations originate from Swedish universities, Uppsala in particular. The second category consists of national and local ordinances, royal circulars, lawsuit documents, international treaties, such as peace treaties, bindings containing prints on special historic events and short-lived gazettes. The prints for special occasions are chiefly from the 17 th, 18 th and early 19 th centuries. There are poems for birthdays, weddings and deaths. Many are funeral sermons, often including a printed biography of the deceased.
The manuscripts date from the 9 th to the 20 th centuries. The ones donated by Abraham Abrahamsson Hülphers in the second half of the 18 th century are particularly interesting, most of them being topographical descriptions of Dalecarlia and northern Sweden and containing travel notes by Hülphers himself and his comprehensive correspondence with clergymen and public officers. His manuscripts are considered to be one of the most important sources concerning conditions in the areas visited. Hülphers is also regarded as the first music scholar in Sweden and his book on Swedish church organs, published in 1773, was preceded by a comprehensive correspondence. His genealogical documents with some 40,000 personal names are of great interest for genealogists,
There are also notes from university lectures, among them some volumes from the lectures held by Carl Linnaeus as well as letters, sermons and notes by clergymen in the Diocese of Västerås. Moreover, there are manuscripts of importance for studies in local history.
The library holds a large number of periodicals, such as Swedish gazettes and newspapers from the 18 th and early 19 th centuries, local newspapers and German periodicals on theology and the humanities.
Riksdag (Parliamentary) papers
There is an incomplete collection of original papers from the period 1809-1899.
Printed and written music
The school students were responsible for the music at church services and on other solemn occasions. Printed and written music indicates that musical education was an important part of the curriculum. Both Renaissance and Baroque music is richly represented, including composers such as Orlando di Lasso, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Jakob Meiland, Michael Praetorius and Jakobus Gallus . Handwritten part books from the late 16 th and early 17 th centuries still exist, some of them acquired by the first music teacher Jonas Columbus. During the 18 th century the repertoire was broadened and works by Haydn, Mozart, Pleyel and Roman were performed. From the 1880s there is a collection of music used by the so called Lilla kapellet. This small orchestra was founded by Rudolf Gagge, who then dominated the musical life in Västerås.
More Recent Collections
More recent collections are kept partly in the reference section (especially books on genealogy) and partly in the stacks close to the non-fiction department, Most of these books, less than 100 years old, may be borrowed in the same way as other books in the library.
These books are of interest particularly to scholars of the humanities. There are doctoral dissertations as well as other academic papers from the last 100 years, most of them dealing with Swedish history and cultural history.