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Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio

Location

Piazza Galvani 1, 40124 Bologna. The library is situated in the city centre and is built around a magnificent quadrilateral portico.

Description

The aims of the Archiginnasio Library are the conservation, growth and enhancement of the collections traditionally housed on the premises and in other institutes governed by the same library (Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, Biblioteca Casa Carducci, Biblioteca del Museo del Risorgimento). The riches of the Archiginnasio have attracted an endless stream of scholars and prominent figures from all over the world; the names of two musicians, Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti, are forever linked with the Stabat Mater Room where Donizetti conducted the first Italian performance of Rossini’s oratorio.

The library was established in 1801 at Convento S. Domenico to gather the book material of the religious orders dispersed by Napoleon. In 1838 the library moved to the Archiginnasio, once the seat of the Studium. Here it was organized by Luigi Frati, who directed the library from 1858 to 1902. As books flowed in through acquisitions and donations, the library - in the hands of Albano Sorbelli- specialized in humanities and the city’s life. To the present day, the Archiginnasio is the main witness of the literary, historical and artistic growth of Bologna and very much part of the city’s texture. The important bequests that have enlarged and shaped the collections and that bear the names of the best known families - such as the Gozzadinis -, scholars and collectors - such as Palagi - remind us of the library’s role within the community.

Collection

There are now about 750,000 books and pamphlets, among which c.2,500 incunabula and 15,000 16th-century editions; about 8,500 manuscripts of various ages, relevance and rarity subdivided into four collections according to content and bequest; further collections range from maps to ex-libris and photos, with some 5,000 drawings and 9,800 prints; 780 current and 6,720 discontinued periodicals.

The catalogues of the Archiginnasio are a treasure in their own right: along with on-line search, there are card catalogues for books and serials covering the current and the historical catalogues, serials, incunabula, 16th-century editions and more catalogues and inventories for separate collections, manuscripts, drawings and prints, special collections.

The librarians are glad to welcome requests from readers and help them in their catalogue and bibliographic searches both on and off line. Guidance for subject research. Readers and institutions can also address written requests concerning the library collections.

The outstanding collections rival the grandeur of the architecture. In the sixteenth century the architect known as ‘il Terribilia’ was commissioned to design a seat for the Studium which would gather under one roof the various disciplines taught at the university. The move was dictated by the desire to control and guide the cultural and academic life of the Studium in the aftermath of the Council of Trent. All available wall space is covered with the coats-of-arms of the thousands of students who flocked to Bologna from all over the world, in itself an important historical testimony in visual form. The succession of rooms are now lined with books as far as the eye can see. The imposing Arts School is now the Reading Room. The Stabat Mater Room - once the Law School - is the venue of lectures and cultural events. The seventeenth-century Anatomical Theatre is an attraction in itself. After it had collapsed in 1944 as a casualty of air-raids, it was painstakingly salvaged and restored to its original beauty, with its pine-wood panelling, professor’s chair, statues and models.

Bibliography

Further readings about the Archiginnasio are endless. However, among the very many titles the following are somewhat essential: Valeria Roncuzzi Roversi Monaco, Sandra Saccone, Per un’indagine sui fondi librari della Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio: censimento delle librerie giunte per dono, lascito e deposito, ‘‘L’Archiginnasio’’, anno LXXX, 1985, pp. 279-350.

L’Archiginnasio. Il Palazzo, l’Università, la Biblioteca, a cura di G. Roversi, Bologna, Credito Romagnolo, 1987.

The library’s excellent website http://www.archiginnasio.it/ is an easy to use quick virtual guidebook through the variety of services, collections and riches of the Archiginnasio.

Director

Dr Pierangelo Bellettini

Opening hours

Reading Room and Reference: Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.

Saturdays 9.00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m. Manuscripts, Rare Books, Drawings and Prints: Monday to Saturday 9.00 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. Loan: Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. - 6.30 p.m. Saturdays 9.00 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. Closed: two weeks in August. A different timetable applies during the summer months.

An ‘emergency line’ for urgent requests is available during the summer closure: 00 39 051 276811.

Further information

Contact person: Marilena Buscarini.
Telephone: 00 39 051 276811
Fax: 00 39 051 261160
E-mail: archiginnasio@comune.bologna.it Website: http://www.archiginnasio.it/

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