78184 - Library History (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Paolo Tinti
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: M-STO/08
  • Language: Italian

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the history of European libraries from the modern age to the present. Students will be aware of the classification, catalogues, services gradually implemented within the library collections both private and public. Students will understand the cultural patterns underlying the establishment, the organization, the growing and dispersion of libraries, including the examination of architectural spaces and bibliographic structures which first brought the intellectual expressions of each library.

Course contents

- The origins of libraries in the Eastern and Greco-Roman antiquity

- Catholic and monastic libraries (VI-XVth century)

- Petrarch, the bibliography of humanism and the books ad publicam utilitatem.

- Libraries in the Age of Reformation and Baroque: from reading control to state libraries in the age of absolutism

- Enlightenment and new public: towards national libraries

- The birth of the public library (1850) model

- Libraries in contemporary Italy from political unification to today


1. F. BARBIER, Storia delle biblioteche. Dall'antichità a oggi, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2016.

2. P. TRANIELLO, Storia delle biblioteche in Italia, 2. ed., Bologna, il Mulino, 2014

3. P. TINTI, Fra cultura e letture benedettine. La librarìa di San Pietro in Modena capitale (secc. XVI-XVIII) in Su questa pietra. Nuovi studi e ricerche sull’abbazia benedettina di San Pietro in Modena, a cura di Sonia Cavicchioli e Vincenzo Vandelli, Modena, Panini, 2014, pp. 47-72.

Only NOT attending students will also read one of these titles:

1. Tracce armene nella Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna e in altre biblioteche d'Italia, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2020, vol. 1, pp. 34-69; 212-261.

2. A. CAPACCIONI, Le origini della biblioteca contemporanea, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2017;

3. P. TRANIELLO, La biblioteca pubblica. Storia di un istituto nell'Europa contemporanea, Bologna, il Mulino, 2002;

4. G. BARONE - A. PETRUCCI, Primo: non leggere. Biblioteche e pubblica lettura in Italia dal 1861 ai nostri giorni, Milano, Mazzotta, 1976.

Teaching methods

The course will use the following methods: 1) Frontal lesson; 2) Individual or group written paper (focused on the history of an Italian library); 3) Guided visit to historical and contemporary libraries.

In the event that the COVID19 health emergency continues, the University will be able to establish alternative methods of teaching delivery (e.g. distance teaching, mixed teaching, etc.).

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

The final exam consists of a three phases oral examination:

1) discussion about the brief history of the library edited by the student (as an individual or a group member) with the teacher

2) two questions concerning the required exam texts

3) only for not attending: one question related to the text chosen between the supplementary readings.

The oral examination aims to verify the knowledge of the texts and lessons’ insights. The highest score is thirty. The mastery of the contents and their critical reworking, the correct use of language, with specific attention to the technical terms of bibliographic disciplines, combine to define the assigned score.

For office hours and further informations, please consult the teacher’s website.

Final exams are scheduled at least 7 times an academic year, usually following that date:

‐ 2 in September-November
‐ 2 in January-March
‐ 3 in May-July

Teaching tools

All students, whether attending or not the lessons, will also deepen the study of an Italian library’s history, possibly a minor or even a private one, and write a short essay (max. 5.000 characters, spaces included), provided with a brief bibliographical note. Students can also choose to prepare the written essay as a group.

Written paper on the history of the Italian library should NOT be sent to the professor by email. Instead, it should be printed on paper and presented on the exam day when it will be discussed with the professor. Doubts should be presented and resolved by contacting the professor at least 10 days before the final exam.

During the course specific visits will be organized, in order to know the history, heritage and cultural peculiarities of the largest libraries of Bologna and Italy.

Students who have never before taken the study of the history of libraries will be able to read profitably in order to build or otherwise strengthen the basis of the preliminary knowledge of the course itself, one or more of the following titles:

1. Le biblioteche nel mondo antico e medievale, a cura di G. Cavallo, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1988 (e successive ristampe): Introduzione di G. Cavallo, pp. V-XXXI e saggi di L. Gargan e A. Petrucci (pp. 163-202);

2. P. TRANIELLO, Storia delle biblioteche in Italia. Dall'Unità a oggi, Bologna, il Mulino, 2002 (editio minor, 230 p.).

Office hours

See the website of Paolo Tinti