The college’s first book collection included books from the library of Father Nicholas Balleis, O.S.B., a missionary monk from Saint Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria. Father Nicholas arrived in the United States in 1836 and served churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. At his passing in 1891, Father Nicholas left his estate, including books, to Saint Mary’s Abbey (Newark, New Jersey). In turn, many of his books were subsequently moved to the newly constructed Saint Anselm College in 1893.

The Geisel Library at Saint Anselm College is named for Manchester businessman Joseph Herman Geisel (1871–1964), a member of the college’s first Advisory Board of Trustees. His substantial gift to the college in honor of his parents allowed for the construction of the library that bears his name. The Geisel Library was completed in 1960.

A Brief Chronological History of the Library at Saint Anselm College


After the death of Fr. Nicholas Balleis, O.S.B., funds and items (including books) from his estate are left to the Benedictines at St. Mary’s Abbey (Newark, New Jersey). His books will eventually form the first library collection at Saint Anselm College.


A fire in February 1892 destroys Saint Anselm College’s first college building. Fortunately, Father Nicholas’ books are kept at St. Mary’s Abbey while construction on the college progresses. Rebuilding commences in March.

October 1893

The first classes at the college begin in October. A new library is formed with the books from Father Nicholas’ estate. There are two library collections: the students’ library and the monastic library.


The college Catalogue announces the founding of the Library Association with 110 members. The “association tends to benefit its members by enlarging the fund of general knowledge and giving them an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the writings of standard authors.” Through a variety of donations, the library’s collections are increased by 400 books.