1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern World - Italy

Libraries
(Part 6)




ITALY

As the former center of civilization, Italy is of course the country in which the oldest existing libraries must be looked for, and in which the rarest and most valuable MSS. are preserved. The Vatican at Rome and the Laurnetian Library at Florence are sufficient in themselves to entitle Italy to rank before most other states in that respect, and the venerable relics at Vercelli, Milan, and La Cava bear witness to the enlightenment of the peninsula in times when other nations were slowly taking their places in the circle of Christian polity. The local rights and interests which so long helped to impede the unification of Italy were useful in creating and preserving at numerous minor centers many libraries which otherwise would probably have been lost during the progress of absorption that results from such centralization as exists in England. In spite of long centuries of suffering and of the aggression of foreign swords and foreign gold, Italy is still rich in books and MSS.; there are probably more books in united Italy than in any other country except France. When the Italian Government published its valuable report on "Biblioteche" in the Statistica del Regno d’Italia in 1865, a table of relative statistics was given, which professed to show that, while the number of books in Austria, (2,408,000) was greater than the total contents of the public libraries in any one of the countries of Great Britain, Prussia, Bavaria, or Russia, it was surpassed in France (4,389,000) and in Italy (4,149,281), the latter country thus exhibiting a greater proportion of books to inhabitants than any other state in Europe, except only Bavaria. The opulent libraries of Rome and Venice had not yet become Italian, and were not included in the report.

The public libraries (biblioteche governative) are under the authority of the minister of public instruction, and are subject to certain regulations finally agreed upon during the ministry of Signor Ruggiero Bonghi in 1876. They are classed under the headings of (1) national libraries of Florence, Naples, Turin, Palermo, Vittorio Emanuele of Rome, the Brera of Milan, and the Marciana of Venic; (2) the libraries of the universities of the first class – Bologna, Naples, Padua, Pavia, Pisa and Rome; (3) those of the universities of the second class- Cagliari, Catania, Genoa, Messina, Modena, Parma, and Sasari; (4) those of academies and institutions of fine arts; the last, although under Government control, are ruled by special regulations of their own. Small collections are sometimes handed over to the local authorities, should this be considered desirable, and the state will take into its own hands the administration of provincial or communal libraries if necessary. The libraries and subordinates are divided into (1) prefects, librarians, and sublibrarians; (2) assistant libraries; (3) attendants, or book distributors; (4) ushers, &c. Those of class 1constitute the "board of direction," which is presided over by the prefect or librarian, and meets from time to time to consider important measures connected with the administration of the library. The candidates for posts in classes 1 and 2 must possess certain scholastic qualifications and serve for a specified time as alumni on probation. An important feature of the regulations consists of the scheme (unfortunately not yet in working order) which is eventually to supply Italy with a body of young librarians properly trained in all the theoretical and technical branches of their profession. Each library is to possess, alike for books and MSS. a general inventory or accessions catalogue, an alphabetical author-catalogue, and a subject catalogue. When they are ready, catalogues of the special collections are to be compiled, and these the Government intends to print, together with the subject-catalogues of the MSS. Various other small registers are provided for. The sums granted by the state for library purposes must be applied to (1) salaries and maintenance; (2) binding and repairs; (3) purchase of books, MSS, &c. Books are chosen by a committee nominated by the minister, which, in the national libraries, includes the members of the council of direction. In other libraries two members only of the council form part of the committee. In the university libraries two-fifths of the expenditure is decided by the committee, and the remainder by a council formed by the professors of the different faculties. The rules for lending books and MSS allow them to be sent to other countries under very special circumstances.

The biblioteche governative are now 32 in number, and annually spend about 150,000 lire in books. From the three sources of gifts, copyright, and purchase, their accessions in 1879 were 35,541, being 5187 more than the previous year. The number of readers is now gradually increasing. In 1879 there were 895,749, who made use of 1,154,853 volumes, showing an increase of 10,393 readers and 130,051, books as contrasted with the statistics of the previous year.

The minister of public instruction has kept a watchful eye upon the literary treasures of the suppressed monastic bodies. In 1875 there were 1700 of these confiscated libraries, containing two millions and a half of volumes. About 650 of the collections were added to the contents of the public libraries already in existence; the remaining 1050 were handed over to the different local authorities, and served to form 371 new communal libraries, and in 1876 the number of new libraries so composed was 415.

The Biblioteca Vaticana stands in the very first rank among European libraries as regards antiquity, since from the middle of the 5th century we have evidence of the existence of a pontifical library at Rome; and Pope Zazhary (d. 752), himself a Greek, is known to have added considerably to the store of Greek codices. The Lateran Library shared in the removal of the papal court to Avignon, and it was on the return of the popes to Rome that the collection was permanently fixed at the Vatican. Nicholas V. (d. 1455) may, however, be considered the true founder of the library, and is said to have added 5000 MSS. to the original store. Calistus III. also enriched the library with many volumes saved from the hands of the Turks after the siege of Constantinople. So large a proportion of the printed books of the 15th century having been produced by the Italian presses, it is natural to expect that a great number of specimens may be found in the papal library, and, but for the wholesale destruction of books and MSS. during the sack of Rome by the duke of Bourbon in 1527, the Vatican Library would have been as rich in early printed literature as it is now rich in manuscripts. Sixtus V. erected the present building in 1588, and considerably augmented the collection. Gregory XV. received as a gift from maximilian, duke of Bavaria, the library of the elector Palatine seized by Tilly at the capture of Heidelberg in 1622. The greater part of the library at Urbino, founded by Duke Federigo, was acquired in 1655 by Alexander VII. for the sum of 10,000 scudi, and some of the famous palimpsests from the Benedcitine monastery of Bobbio were also added to the treasures of the Vatican. After the death of Christina, queen of Sweden, her collection of books and manuscripts, formed from the plunder seized at Prague, Wurtzburg, and Bremen by her father Gustavus Adolphus, became by succession the property of the Ottoboni family, the head of which, Alexander VIII., in 1689 placed 1900 of the MSS. in one of the galleries. Clement VII. and Pius II. also enriched the Vatican with valuable manuscripts, including many Oriental. In 1740 Benedict XIV. united with it the Ottoboniana, and in the same pontificate the Marchese Aless. Capponi bequeathed his precious collections. Clements XIII. in 1758, Clement XIV. in 1769, and Pius VI. and 1775 were also important benefactors. For over two hundred years the history of the Vatican was one of unbroken prosperity, but it suffered a serious blow at the close of the 18th century, when MSS. dating before the 9th century, and the most choice artistic specimens, altogether to the number of 500, were carried off by the French to Paris in 1798. The greater part were, however, restored in 1815, and most of the Palatine MSS., which formed part of the plunder, ultimately found their way to the university of Heidelberg in 1816. Pius VII. acquired fort he Vatican the library of Cardinal Zelada in 1800; Leo XII. was able to add the noble collection of fine art literature of Count Cicognara in 1823; and Gregory XVI. also largely augmented the library. Pius IX. in 1856 added 40,000 volumes belonging to Cardinal Mai.

Few libraries are so magnificently housed as the Biblioteca Vaticana. The famous Codici Vaticani are placed in the salone or great double hall, which is decorated with frescos depicting ancient libraries and councils of the church. At the end of the great hall an immense gallery, also richly decorated, and extending to 1200 feet, opens out from right to left. Here are preserved in different room the codici Palatini. Regin, Ottoboniani, Capponiani, &c. Most of the printed books are contained in a series of sic chambers known as the Appartamento Borgia. The printed books only are on open shelves, the MSS. being preserved in closed cases.





The present official estimate of the number of printed volumes is about 220,000, including 2500 15th century editions, of which many are vellum copies, 500 Aldines, and a great number of bibliographical rarities. There are 25,600 MSS., of which 18,641 are Latin, 3613 Greek, 609 Hebrew, 900 Arabic, 460 Syriac, 78 Coptic, &c. Among the Greek and Latin MSS. are some of the most valuable in the world, alike for antiquity and intrinsic importance. It is sufficient to mention the famous Biblical Codex Vaticanus of the 4th century, the Virgil of the 4th or 5th century, the Terence equally ancient, the palimpsest De Republica of Cicero, conjectured to be of the 3d century, discovered by Cardinal Mai, and an immense number of richly ornamented codices of extraordinary beauty and costliness. The archives are apart from the library, and are quite inaccessible to the public; no catalogue is known to exist. Leo XII. has appointed a committee to consider what documents of general interest may expediently be published, and a greater liberality in the use of them is said to be contemplated. The Biblioteca Vaticana is now open from 8 to 12 every morning between November and June, with the exception of Sundays, Thursday, and the principal feast days. Permission to study is obtained from the cardinal secretary of state. The want of proper catalogues for the use of readers is a great drawback. There are imperfect written lists (for the use of the librarians alone) of the printed books, and various catalogues of special classes of the MSS. have been published. New catalogues, however, are in course of preparation. The Oriental MSS. have been described by J. S. Assemanni, Bibliotheca orientalis Clementino-Vaticana, Rome, 1719-28, 4 vols. folio, and Bibl. Vat. Codd. MSS. catalogus a=b S.E. et J.S.. Assemanno redactus, ib., 1756-59, 3 vols. folio, and by Cardinal Mai in Script. Vet. Nova collectio. The Coptic MSS. have been specially treated by G. Zoega, Rome, 1810, folio; and by F.G.. Bonjour, Rome, 1699, 4to. There are printed catalogues of the Capponi (1747) and the Cicognara (1820) libraries.

Next in importance to the Vatican library is the Casanatense, so called from the name of its founder, Cardinal Casanate (1700). It contains about 130,000 volumes of printed books, including a large number of 15th century impressions and early edition with woodcuts, as wel as about 2500 MSS., amongst which are one of the 7th century and several of the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries. They are carefully arranged in eleven rooms, the large central hall being one of the finest in Rome. Books are not allowed to be taken out of the reading-rooms, but admission is freely granted, and the annual number of readers is about 18,000. The subvention is a small one, but additions continue to be make, and the library is well administered. All the officials, in accordance with the founder’s will, belong to the Dominican order. The incomplete catalogue of the printed books, prepared by A. Audiffredi (Rome, 1761-88, 4 vols. folio), still remains a model of cataloguing. – The Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele forms part of the Collegio Romano, and was made up from the old Jesuit library, enriched by accessions from a number of other suppressed institutions. It now consists of 360,000 volumes, with 5000 MSS, and is united edifice is spacious enough to contain a million of volumes, besides he Kircherian and other museums which are already located in it.- The Biblioteca Angelica possesses all the authentic acts of the Congregatio de Auxiliis, and the precious collections of Cardinal Passionei and Lucas Holstenius. - The Biblioteca Alessandrina della R. Universita di Roma, founded by Alexander VII., is considerably used by students; there were in 1879 57,000 readers. The greater part of the printed books formerly in the collection of the dukes of Rubino is now in this library. – The Biblioteca del Senato is very rich in collection of municipal history and statutes of Italian cities. The printed catalogue (1878) describes no less than 1067 stattues or volumes containing them, relating to 443 localities. – The Biblioteca Vallicelliana was founded by S. Filippo Neri, and contains some valuable manuscripts, including a Latin Bible of the 8th century attributed to Alcuin, and some inedited writings of Baronius. – In 1877 Professor A. Sarti presented to the city of Rome his collection of ine-art books, 10,000 volumes, which was placed in charge of the Accademia di San Luca, which already possessed a good artistic library. – Of private libraries accessible by permission, we not the Biblioteca Barberina, including many rare editions with valuable autographs, but especially remarkable for its MSS; these were chiefly collected by cardinal Fr. Barberini, the newphew of Urban VIII., and comprehend the letters and papers of Galileo, Bambo, and Bellarmine, the reports on the state of Catholicism in England in the time of Charles I., and a quantity of inedited materials for the history of the Stuarts. A catalogue was published at Rome in 1681, 3 vols. folio. – The Corsiniana, founded by Clement XII. (Lorenzo Corsini), is also a private library; it is rich in incunabula, and includes one of the most remarkable collections of prints in Italy, the series of Marc-Antonios being especially complete. – The library of the Collegium de Propaganda Fide was established by Urban VIII. in 1626, and in 1687 the rector Andrea Bonvicini obtained permission to preserve in it prohibited books. It was destroyed by the French army in 1798, and owes its present richness almost entirely to testamentary gifts, among which may be mentioned those of Cardinals Borgia, Caleppi, and Pietro. It is a private collection for the use of congregation and of those who belong to it, but permission may be obtained from the superiors. There are at least thirty libraries in Rome which are more or less accessible to the public. One is now in course of formation which will include everything relating to the emancipation of Italy.

At Subiaco, a few miles from Rome, library of the Benediction monastery of Santa Scolastica is not a very large one, comprising only 6000 printed volumes and 400 MSS., but the place is remarkable as having been the first seat of typography in Italy. It was in his monastery that Schweynheim and Pannartz, fresh from the dispersion of Fust and Schoeffer’s workmen in 1462, established their press and produced a series of very rare and important works which are highly prized throughout Europe. The Subiano Library, although open daily to readers is only visited by students who are curious to behold the cradle of the press in Italy, and to inspect the series of original editions preserved in their first home .

The Biblioteca Nazionable of Florence, formed from the union of Magliabechi’s library with the Palantina, is the largest in Italy. The Magliabechi collection public property at his death in 1714 and, with the accessions made from time to time, held an independent place until 1862, when the Biblioteca Palatina 9formed in 1815 from the old Pitti Library and the collection of Poggiali and Rzewuzky) was incorporated with it. An old statute by which a copy of every work printed in Tuscany was to presented to the Magliabechi Library was formerly much neglected, but has been maintained rigorously in force since 1860. There are many valuable autograph originals of famous works in this library, and the MSS include the most important extant codici of Dante and later poets, as well as of the historians from Villani to Machiavelli and Guicciardini. Amongst the printed books is a very large assemblage of rare early impressions, a great number of the Rappresentazioni of the 16th century, at least 200 books printed on vellum, and a copious collection of municipal histories and statutes, of testi di lingua, and of geographical and topographical maps. The MS portolani, 25 in number, are for the most part of great importance; the oldest is dated 1417, and several seem to be the original charts executed for Sir Robert Dudley (duke of Northumerland) in the preparation of his Arcano del Mare. The annual increment of books in this library is about 12,000. It is open freely to the public, and about 50,000 readers annually make use of it. About 60,000 printed volumes and 2500 MSS. are consulted annually, not including some 1500 books and 50 MSS. which are lent out yearly to certain students. – The Biblioteca Nazionale at Naples, though only opened to the public in 1804, is the largest library of that city. The nucleus from which it developed was the collection of Cardinal Seripando, which comprised many MSS. and printed books of great value. Acquisitions came in from other sources, especially when in the year 1848 many private and conventual libraries were thrown on the Neapolitan market. The Biblical section is rich in rarities, commencing with the Mainz Bible of 1462, printed on vellum. Other special features are the collection of testi di lingua, that of books on volcanoes and that of works printed at famous presses, particularly those executed by the typographers of Naples. The MSS. include a palimpsest containing writings of the 3d, 5th and 6th centuries under a grammatical treatise of the 8th, 2 Latin papyri of the 6th century, over 50 Latin Bibles, and a great number of illuminated books with miniatures. There are more than 40 books printed on vellum in the 15th and 16th centuries, including a fine first Homer. There several MS maps and portolani, one of them dating from the end of the 14th century. About 10,000 readers this library, consulting some 140,000 books yearly. – The Bibliotheca Nazionale of Milan, better known as the Breta, founded in 1770 by a decree of the empress Maria Theresa, consists of 163,123 printed volumes and 3646 MSS., with a yearly increment of about 6000 volumes, and the annual number of readers is said to amount to 45,000. It comprises nearly 2300 books printed in the 15th century (including the rare Monte Santo di Dio of Bettini, 1477), 913 Aldine kimpressions, and a xylographic Biblia Pauperum. Amongst the MSS. are an early Dante and autograph letters of Galileo, some poems in Tasso’s autograph, and a fine series of illustrated service-books, with miniatures representing the advance of Italian art from the 12th to the 16th century. These were formerly in the Certosa at Pavia. – The Bibliotheca Nazionale of Palermo, founded from the Collegio Massimo of the Jesuits, with additions fromother libraries of that suppressed order, is rich in 15th century books, which have been elaborately described in a catalogue printed in 1875, and in Aldines and bibliographical curiosities of the 16th and following centuries. – The Biblioteca Nazionae of Turin is extensively used by readers, whose annual number amounts to 120,000. The majority of the books are works for scientific study, but amongst them are several rarities, comprising a Sedulin MS. of the 5th century, the celebrated MS. of the De Imitatione (on which the assignbment of its authorship to Gersen is founded, see KEMPIS), and several productions of the earliest German and Italian printers.- The Biblioteca Marciana, or library of St Mark at Venice, was founded in 1362 by a donation of MSS. from the famous Petrarch (most of them now lost), and instituted as a library by Cardinal Bessarion in the 15th century. It is open daily, and is used by about 40,000 readers annually. The precious contents include Greek MSS.of great value, of which more than 1000 were given by Cardinal Bessarion, important MS. collections of work on Venetian history, rare incunabula, and a great number of volumes, unique or exceedingly rare, on the subject of early geographical research. Amongst the MSS. is a Latin Homer in the autograph of Boccaccio, an invaluable codex of the laws of the Lombards, and the autograph MS. of Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent. Since the fall of the republic and the suppression of the monasteries afterwards, a great many private and conventual libraries have been incorporated with the Marciana.

Of the university libraries under Government control it is sufficient to notice the Biblioteca delaUniversita at Bologna, founded in 1712 by Count Luigi F. Marsigli or Marsili. The MSS. comprise a rich Oriental collection of 547 MSS. in Arabic, 173 in Turkish, and severall in Persian, Armenian, and Hebrew. Amongst the Latin codices is a Lactantius of the 6th or 7th century. The other noteworthy articles include a copy of the Armenian gospels (12th century), the Avicenna, with miniatures dated 1194, described in Montfaucon’s Diarrium Italicum, and some unpublished Greek texts. Amongst the Italian MSS. is a rich assemblage of municipal histories. Mezzofanti was for a long time the custodian here, and his own collection of books has been incorporated in the library, which is remarkable likewise for the number of early editions and Aldines which it contains. It possesses the Mainz Latin Bible dated 1462; the Lactantius and Auhustine De Civitate Dci printed by Schweynheim and Panartz, the Foligno Dante of 1472, and a copy of Henry VIII.’s Assertio Sacramentorum with the royal author’s autograph. A collection of drawing by agostino Caracci is another special feature of worth. The Manfredi palace, in which the library is arranged, is a fine building begun in 1714 and finished in 1744. The grand hall with its fine furniture in walnut wood merits particular attention. the library is open to the public; the yearly number of readers is about 25,000 and of books consulted 40,000.





Of the remaining Government libraries the following may be named. – The Bibliteca del Monastero della S. Trinita, at La Cava dei Tirreni in the province of Salerno, is after the Bibliteca dell’ Archivio Capitolare at Vercelli the most ancient library in the Italian kingdom, its foundation being said to be contemporaneous with that of the Benedictine abbey itself (beginning of the 11th century). It only contains some 10,000 volumes, but these include a number of MSS. of very great rarity and value, ranging from the 8th to the 14th century. Amongst these is the celebrated Codex Legum Longobardorum, dated 1004, besides a well-known geographical chart of the 12th century, over 100 Greek MSS., and about 1000 charters beginning with the year 840, more than 200 of which belong to the Lombard, and Norman periods. – At Florence the Marucelli Library, founded in 1752, is remarkable for its artistic wealthof early woodcuts and metal engravings. The number of these and of original drawings by the old masters amounts to 80,000 pieces. – At Modena is the famous Bibliteca Palatina, sometimes called the Biblioteca Estense from having been founded by the Este family at Ferrara in 1393; it was transferred to Modena by Cesare D’Este in 1598. Muratori, Zaccaria, and Tiraboschi were librarians here, and made good use of the treasures of the library . It is particularly rich in early printed literature and valuable codices. – The oldest library at Naples is the Biblioteca Brancacciana, with many valuable MSS. relating to the history of Naples. Two planispheres by Coronelli are preserved here. It was founded in 1673 by Cardinal F.M. Brancaccio. – The Regia Bibliteca di Parma, founded definitively in 1779, owes its origin to the grand-duke Philip, who employed the famous scholar Paciaudi or organize it. It is now a public library containing 213,995 volumes, including 4000 MSS., with an annual increment of nearly 1000 volumes. Amongst its treasures is De Rossi’s magnificent collection of Biblical and rabbinical MSS.

Chief among the great libraries not under Government control comes the world-famed Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana at Florence, formed from the collection of Cosimo the Elder, Pietro de’ Medici, and Lorenzo the Magnificient (which, however, passed away from the family after the expulsion of the Medici from Florence, and were repurchased by Cardinal Giovanni, afterwards Leo X.). It was first constituted as a public library in Florence by Clement VII., who charged Michelangelo to construct a suitable edifice for its reception. It was opened to the public by Cosimo I. in 1571, and has ever since gone on increasing in value, the accessions in the 18th century alone being enough to double its former importance. The printed books it contains are probably no more than 3000 in number, but are almost al of the highest rarity and interest. It is, however, the precious collection of MSS., amounting to about 7000 articles, which gives its chief importance to this library. They comprise some of the most valuable codices in the world, - the famous Virgil of the 4th or 5th century, Justinian’s Pandects of the 7th, a Homer of the 10th and several other very early Greek and Latin classical and Biblical texts, as well as copies in the handwriting of Petrarch, about 100 codices of Dante, a Decameron copied by a contemporary from Boccaccio’s own MS., and Cellini’s MS. of his autobiography. Bandini’s catalogue of the MSS. occupies 13 vols. folio, printed in 1764-78. – At Genoa the Biblioteca Franzoniana, founde about 1770 for the instruction of the poorer classes, is noteworthy as being the first European library lighted up at night for the use of readers. – The famous Biblioteca Ambrosiana at Milan was founded in 1609 by Cardinal Fed. Borromeo. It contains 164,000 printed volumes and 8100 MSS. amongst the MSS. are a Greek Pentateuch of the 5th century, the famous Peshito and Syro-Hexaplar from the Nitrian convent of St Maria Deipara, a Josephus written on papyrus, supposed to be of the 5th century, several palimpsets texts, including an early Plautus, and St Jerome’s commentary on the Psalms in a volume of 7th century execution, full of Virgil with notes in Petrarch’s handwriting. Noteworthy amongst the printed books is Valdarfer’s Boccaccio of 1471, as well as the Virgil of 1470 (Venice), and the editio princeps of Isocrates, both printed on vellum. Cardinal Mai was formerly custodian here. In 1879 Professor C. Mensinger presented his "Biblioteca Europea," consisting of 2500 volumes, 300 maps, and 500 pieces, all relating to the literature and linguistics of European countries. – The Melzi and Trivulzio libraries should not pass without mention here, although they are private and inaccessible without special permission. The former is remarkable for its collection of early editions with engravings, including the Dante of 1481, with twenty designs by Baccio Bandinelli. The latter is rich in MSS. with miniatures of the finest and rarest kind, and in printed books of which many are unique or nearly so. It consists of 70,000 printed volumes. – The foundation of the monastery of Monte Cassino is due to St Benedict, who arrived there in the year 529, and established the prototype of all similar institutions in western Europe. He brought with him a few manuscripts, four or five or which are still to be seen. The library of printed books now extends to about 20,000 volumes, chiefly relating to the theological sciences, but including some rare editions. A collection of the books belonging to the monks is in course of formation; it contains about the same number of volumes. But the chief glory of Monte Cassino consists of the archivio, which is quite apart; and this includes 30,000 or 40,000 bulls, diplomas, charters, and other documents, besides 1000 MSS. dating from the 6th century downwards. The latter comprehend some very early Bibles and important codices of patristic and other mediaeval writings. There are good written cartalogues, and a calendar is now being published, Bibliotheca Casinensis, of which 4 volumes have appeared. These libraries enjoy no special revenues, and owe their accessionsentirely to donations. – At Ravenna the Biblioteca Classense has a 10th century codex of Aristophanes and two 14th century codices of Dante. Here are also the autograph correspondence of Muratori, and many unpublished letters of modern writers. – At Vercelli the Bibioteca dell’ Archivio Capitolare, the foundation of which can be assigned to no certain date, but must be referred to the early days when the barbarous conquerors of Italy had become Christianized, comprises notihing but MSS., all of great antiquity and value. Amongst them is an Evangeliarium S. Eusebii in Latin, supposed to be of the 4th century; also the famous codex containing the Anglo-Saxon homilies which have been published by the Aelfric Society. – The "Frari" at Venice contains an enormous collection of archives, the invaluable state paper records of the Venetian republic.

Not a few of the communal and municipal libraries, as will be seen from the tables, are of great extent and interest. During three centuries. After suffering many losses from thieves and fire, in 1772 the Bibliotheque de Bourgogue received considerable augmentations from the libraries of the suppressed order of Jesuits, and was thrown open to the public. On the occupation of Brussels by the French in 1794 a number of books and MSS. were confiscated and transferred to Paris (whence the majority were returned in 1815); in 1795 the remainder were formed into a public librasry under the care of La Serna Santander, who was also town librarian, and who was followed by Van Hulthem. At the end of the administration of Van Hulthem a large part of the precious collections of the Bollandists was acquired. In 1830 the Bibliothequede Bourgogne was added to the state archives, and the whole made available for students. Van Hulthem died in 1832, leaving one of the most important private libraries in Europe, described by Voisin in Bibliotheca Hulthemiana, brus, 1836, 5 vols., and extending to 60,000 printed volumes and 1016 MSS., mostly relating to Belgian history. The collection was purchased by the Government in 1837, and having been added to the Bibliotheque de Bourgogne (open since 1772) and the Bibliotheque de la Ville (opensince 1794), formed what has since been known as the Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique. The printed volumes now number 350,000, with 30,000 MSS., 100,000 prints, and 50,000 coins and medals. The yearly additions to the books amount to between 1500 and 3000; the other departments receive few accessions. The special collections, each with a printed catalogue, consist of the Fonds van Hulthem, for national history; the Fonds Fetis, for music; the Fonds Goethals, for geneaology; and the Fonds Muller, for physiology. The catalogue of the MSS. has been partly printed, but in an imperfect manner.

The university Library of Ghent, known successively as the Bibliotheque de l’Ecole Centrale and Bibliotheque Publique de la Ville, was founded upon the old libraries of the Conseil de Flandres, of the College des Echevins, and of many suppressed religious communities. It was declared public in 1797, and formally opened in 1798. On the foundation of the university in 1817 the town placed the collection at its disposal, and the library has since remained under state control. The printed volumes now amount to 250,000, with 1600 MSS; the annual increment is about 2500 volumes. There are important special collections onarchaeology, Netherlands literature, national history, books printed in Flanders, and 23,000 historical pamphlets of the 16th and 17th centuries. There are printed catalogues of the works on jurisprudence (1839), and of the MSS (1852). – The Bibliotheque de l’Universite Catholique of Louvain is based upon the collection of Beyerlinck, who bequeathed it to his alma mater in 1627; this example was followed by Jacques Romain, professor of medicine, but the proper organization of the library commenced in 1636. There are now said to be 250,000 volumes. – The Bibliotheque de l’Universite of Liege dates from 1817, when on the foundation of the university the old Bibliotheque de la Ville was added to it. There are now 105,746 printed volumes, 87,254 pmaphlets, 1544 MSS., and 142 incunabula. The Liege collection (of which a printed catalogue appeared in 3 vols. 8v0, 1872), bequeathed by M. Ulysse Capitaine, extends to 12,061 volumes and pamphlets. A printed catalogue of the medical books was published in 1844, and one of the MSS. in 1875.

The nationall library of Holland is the Koninklijke Bibliotheek at the Hague, which was established in 1798, when it was decided to join the library of the princes of Orange with those of the defunct Government bodies inorder to form a library for the States General, to be called the National Bibliotheek. In 1805 the presnt namewas adopted; and since 1815 it has become the national library. In 1848 the baron W.Y.H. van Westreenen van Tiellandt bequeathed his valuable books, MSS., coins, and antiquities to the country, and directed that they should be preserved in his former residence as a branch of the royal library. There are now upwards of 200,000 volumes of printed books, with an annual increment of 4000 volumes. The MSS. number 4000, chiefly historical, but including many fine books of hours with miniatures. Books are lent all over the country. Some twenty-five years ago it was decided for economical reasons to restrict the purchases to political, historical, and legal works, but recently, in consequence of an increase in the yearly works, but recently, in consequence of an three classes. The library boasts of the richest collection in the world of books on chess, Dutch incunabula, Elzevirs, and Spinozana. There is one general written catalogue arranged in classes, with alphabetical indexes. In 1800 a printed catalogue was issued, with four supplements down to 1811; and since 1866 a yearly list of additional has been published. Special mention should be made of the excellent catalogue of the incunabula published in 1856.

The next library in numerical importance is the famous Bibliotheca Academiae Lugduno-Batae, which dates from the foundation of the university of Leyden by William I., prince of Orange, on February 8, 1575. It has acquired many valuable additions from the books and MSS. of the distinguished scholars, Golius, Joseph Scalifer, Isaac Voss, Ruhnken, and Hemsterhius. The MSS. comprehend many of great intrinsic importance; the Oriental codices number 2400. The library of the Society of Netherland Literature has been placed her since 1877; this is rich in the national history and literature. The Arabic and Oriental MSS., known as the Legatum Warnerianum are of greatvalue and interest; and the collection of maps bequeathed in 1870 by J.J. Bodel Nyenhuis is also noteworthy. The library is contained in a building which was formerly a church of the Beguines, adapted in 1860 somewhat after the style of the British Museum. The catalogues (one alphabetical and one classified) are on slips, the titles being printed. A cataslogue of books and MSS. was printed in 1716, one of books added between 1814 and 1847 in 1848, and a supplementary part of MMS. Only in 1850. A catalogue of the Oriental MSS. was published in 6 vols. 1851-77.

The University Library at Utrecht dates from 1582, when certain conventual collections were brought together in order to form a public library, which was shortly afterwards enriched by the books bequeathed by Hub. Buchelius and Ev. Pollio. Upon the foundation of the university in 1636, the town library passed into its charge. Among the MSS. are some interesting cloister MSS. and the famous "Utrecht Psalter," which contains the oldest text of the Athanasian creed. The last edition of the catalogue was in 2 vols. folio, 1834, with supplement in 1845, index from 1845-55 in 8v0, and additions 1856-70, 2 vols, 8vo. The titles of accessions are now printed in sheets and pasted down for insertion.

The basis of the University Library at Amsterdam consists of a collection of books brought together in the 15th century and preserved in the Nieuwe Kerk. At the time of the Reformation in 1578 they became the property of the city, but remained in the Nieuwe Kerk for the use of the public till 1632, when they were transferred to the Athenaeum. Since 1877 the collection has been known as the University Library, and in 1881 it was removed to a building designed upon the plan of the new library and reading-room of the British Museum. The library includes the best collection of medical works in Holland, and the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana of Hebrew and Talmudic literature is of great fame and value; a catalogue of the last was printed in 1875. The libraries of the Dutch Geographical and other societies are preserved here. A general printed catalogue was issued in 6 vols. 8vo, Amsterdam, 1856-77; one describing the bequests of J. de Bosch Kemper, E.J.. Potgieter, and F.W. Rive, in 3 vols. 8vo, 1878-79; a catalogue of the MSS. of Professor Moll was published in 1880, and one of those of P. Camper in 1881.


Read the rest of this article:
Libraries - Table of Contents





Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries