The Collections

The Printed works

The Library has about 850,000 volumes and brochures. The original core of the collections consists of the library funds of the conventual libraries, which were received by the Municipality of Bologna after the suppression of the religious corporations; it has been constantly enriched over time by purchases and donations.
Among the monographs are worth mentioning about 2,500 editions of the 15th century (incunabula) about 15,000 editions of the 16th century ("Cinquecentine") and about 120,000 ancient books (up to 1830).
The periodicals section counts 7,500 publications, of which over 1,300 are ongoing.

The printed works and the periodicals must be requested in the Reading Room.
The printed rare books (in particular, the incunabula) can be consulted in the Manuscripts and Rare Books Hall.
The most recent issues of nearly 120 current periodicals can be consulted directly in the Emeroteca (Newspaper Library) that is placed in the Reference Room. The periodicals are excluded from the loan.

the Manuscripts

The Library has a large collection (around 8500 manuscripts), ranging from the 10th century to the present (in particular, from the 16th century to the 19th century). The collections are mainly of documentary, historical and textual interest, but also include works of considerable bibliographic rarity and artistic and antiquarian value.
The original core, that came from the libraries of the religious corporations which were suppressed during the Napoleonic age, has been constantly enriched over time thanks to the purchases and the donations by the erudite collectors and the prominent figures of the city life (Magnani, Venturoli, Mugnoz, Palagi, Ercolani, Minghetti, Pallotti, Gozzadini, Rusconi, De Marinis, Malvezzi de' Medici, etc.). Among the main collections: Manuscripts A, Manuscripts B, Gozzadini, Malvezzi de' Medici.

The manuscripts can be consulted in the Manuscripts Hall.
All users of the library who wish to conduct research on manuscript volumes, archival and documentary collections, in reproduction or in the original form, are admitted.

The material is divided into 4 sections:
A manuscripts: approximately 3,000 manuscripts from every time period, and of every language and subject, not directly relating to Bologna.
B manuscripts: roughly 5,000 manuscripts pertaining to Bolognese history, culture and life.
Gozzadini manuscripts: 445 manuscripts with topics that mainly concern Bologna and are part of the bequest made by the Count and Senator Giovanni Gozzadini.
Special Funds: approximately 260 archives, collections of letters and special collections (for a total of about 5,500 pieces) chiefly concerning families, personages and subjects related to Bologna.
Drawings, Prints, Photographs and Postcards

The collection of the Drawings and Prints Private Room is composed by thousands of drawings, prints and photographs that have a particular importance for the study of the Bolognese iconography, of the artistic life and the history of the city, but they concern also other subjects, also in other collocations.

The Palagi collection
3,949 drawings by the Bolognese artist and collector Pelagio Pleagi (1775, Bologna - 1860, Turin) arrived in 1861 at the Archiginnasio, that preserves also his Archive.

The collection of drawings by various authors
About 2,300 drawings by various authors and different subjects, from the 16th to the 19th century, many of which are rare and precious.

The "Antolini" file
33 codes of architectural documentation of the first half of the 19th century, which had been collected by the architect Filippo Antolini (1787, Rome - 1858, Bologna) and concerning the Bolognese buildings (164 works, among which two painted volumes: Manuscript B 4351 - 49 papers - and Manuscript 4352 - 41 papers).

Collections of prints according to subject
5,500 prints (17th - 19th centuries) that are divided according to subject: architecture, landscapes, archaeology, memorials, religious figures, festivals and theatrical scenes, engravings from paintings, chronicle and history, mythology, the cathedral of Orvieto, business cards, miscellaneous, lithographs, maps.

Collections of prints by various authors
About 6,500 works (16th - 19th centuries), many of which are of particular historical-artistic value.

The Gozzadini collection
3,500 works (16th - 19th centuries) collected in 53 files, most of which refer to local history, art and architecture. They come from the bequest of the Senator Giovanni Gozzadini which arrived in 1902 together with the rich Library. The collection includes loose prints (1320) or in volumes (26), and loose drawings (1543) or bound in albums (8) and about 500 photographs.

256 maps of the city of Bologna and 97 maps of the Bolognese territory from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, and 2,100 various geographical maps inserted among the prints and the drawings.

14,900 portraits of illustrious men, many of whom are Bolognese. They were made by using different techniques (drawing, engraving, lithography, photography) from the 16th to the 20th century.

Ex libris
More than 1,400 exemplars: the oldest core dates back to the first decades of the twentieth century.

About 2000 postcards from the first decades of the 20th century, with views, monuments and works of art.

The collection includes photographs taken from the beginning of the photographic technique (mid-nineteenth century) to the first decades of the twentieth century, of the following subjects:
- Photographs of Bologna: The city (1557); War destructions and restorations (400); History of Bologna 1920-1940 (774)
- Non-Bolognese landscapes and views (878)
- Reproduction of the historical, artistic and literary heritage (706)
- Archaeology (52)
- Scientific, industrial and commercial activities (203)
- Army, wars, colonies (not inventoried, about 200)
- Portraits (not inventoried, many anonymous, about 1000)

The iconographic material external to the Drawings and Prints Exhibition Room
Apart from the series of engravings in the iconographic section of the Gozzadini collection, which were called "cartelle" (files), the series of prints or volumes richly illustrated by the engravings received by the library at different times, have been placed on the shelves of the rooms to which they belonged, according to the order by subject inaugurated by Luigi Frati in 1858. The greatest concentration of engravings in volumes is in room 18, dedicated to the Archaeology and Fine Arts, then in room 17, which contains the "Country History or collection of works of Bolognese writers which concern Bologna", and in room 16, where the director Albano Sorbelli managed to arrange manuscripts, incunabula and other rare editions in 1939.

The reproductions of the iconographic material of the Drawings and Prints Private Room can be consulted in the Manuscripts Hall.

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