The Kantonsbibliothek Vadiana St. Gallen (Cantonal Library Vadiana St. Gallen), which originates with the donation of books by the reformer, mayor and municipal physician Joachim Vadian (1484–1551), collects since its adoption by the Canton of Saint Gallen in 1979 all media relating to the Canton in order to document thereby its history and present. The collection of Sangallensia includes books, newspapers, journals as well as business reports and official pamphlets. The Sangallensia comprise all media composed by authors from the Canton, published by publishing houses from Saint Gallen or dealing with themes that refer to Saint Gallen. By means of this unique collection, the library preserves and takes care of a part of the regional historical heritage and of its cultural identity.
In the section "Historische Bestände" (historical holdings) the canton's library collects, analyses and preserves printed and written documents as well as images of past times. Among these may be found the estates of 120 creative artists, politicians and of associations with a relationship to the Canton Saint Gallen as well as an additional c.1,000 manuscripts from the period of the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. The manuscripts are related to the Canton or to the city of St. Gallen. Alternatively, the manuscripts’ authors hail from St. Gallen. For example, the diaries of Ulrich Bräker (1735–1798), the so-called "Arme Mann im Tockenburg" (the poor man in Tockenburg), are of international importance. This category also comprises around 24,000 titles with a date of print of before 1800 as well as rare books. Thematically, in particular the fields of history, theology as well as Sangallensia are represented with numerous copies.
Apart from topographical views and a collection of portraits, around 3,000 maps are held by the library. The special libraries include the Bibliotheca Masonica August Belz (free masons’ library with c.18,000 titles), the Bibliothek der Sektion St.Gallen des Schweizerischen Alpenclubs (the library of the St. Gallen chapter of the Swiss Alpine Club), the complete publications of the Heimeran-Verlag (Heimeran Publishing House) as well as several scholarly and specialised libraries.
The St. Gallen "Zentrum für das Buch" (Book Centre) is a special division, dedicated in particular detail to books and book design and collects media related to bibliology and the press at a scientific level. The centre also owns the decedents' estates of the typographers Jan Tschichold (1902–1974), Rudolf Hostettler (1919–1981) and André Gürtler (*1936).
The Vadianische Sammlung (the collections of Joachim Vadian/von Watt, 1484–1551) is part of the historical heritage of the Ortsbürgergemeinde (citizens' community) of St.Gallen and is situated as a long-term deposit in the Vadiana. It comprises c.100 mediaeval and 700 early modern manuscripts. Its illuminated manuscripts of the late mediaeval period are highly regarded far beyond the borders of St.Gallen as well as the Humanist manuscripts of the fifteenth century. The manuscripts on alchemy form the most important collection across Switzerland. The collection comprises as well 225 incunabula and 1,000 book titles, among these in particular writings of the Reformation period. Since Vadian, around 60 further important people from the city of St.Gallen left their estates to the Vadianische Sammlung.