84040 - History of Libraries and History of Bibliography

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The cognitive acquisition of the main types of bibliographic tools and the theoretical stages of the history of the bibliography as a discipline makes the students able to evaluate the bibliographic coverage and the level of the logic of organization and physical disposition of the documents of a library.

Students will acquire awareness of the strategic role played by libraries in the selection, conservation, transmission and use of written memory, knowing how to identify paradigms, models of reference and value, depending on the type studied.

Course contents

The course aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the history of libraries and of the history of bibliography, considering the two disciplines connected in the unitary framework of the history of written culture.

The course will be structured in two parts:

1. History of libraries. Deepening of themes, concepts, and aspects considered relevant for the History of libraries: the foundation and development of libraries and their types; the dispersion and reconstruction of book funds; personal and private collections as a bibliographical paradigm; the origin of public library model; the architecture of ancient book halls; the social and cultural role of libraries. These themes will be dept through the case of study on the travel literature of Grand Tour.

2. History of the Bibliography. Illustration of concepts and bibliographic tools and works; analysis of the main bibliographic works to grasp the historical evolution and the cultural and intellectual scope: the millennial bibliographic chain up to the Liber de scriptoribus ecclesiasticisJohannes Trithemius, the 'Bibliotheca Universalis' by Conrad Gesner.


1. History of the Bibliography:

Alfredo Serrai - Fiammetta Sabba, Profilo di Storia della Bibliografia. Milano, Sylvestre Bonnard, 2005, p.1-82.

Fiammetta Sabba. La ‘Bibliotheca Universalis' di Conrad Gesner, monumento della cultura europea. Roma, Bulzoni, 2012.

2. History of libraries:

Fiammetta Sabba, Viaggi tra i libri. Le biblioteche italiane nella letteratura del Grand Tour, Pisa - Roma, Fabrizio Serra editore, 2018 (in particular: p.1-87, 143-146, 247-254).

Enrico Pio Ardolino, Storiografia delle biblioteche. Genesi, stabilità e fratture di una tradizione di studi, Pesaro, Metauro Edizioni, 2020 (in particular: p.1-103).

** Non-attending students will add one of the following books:

Alfredo Serrai, Gabriel Naudé, Helluo Librorum, e l’ Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque, a cura di Fiammetta Sabba e Lucia Sardo, Firenze, FUP, 2021.

Fiammetta Sabba, Angelo Maria Bandini in viaggio a Roma (1780-1781), Firenze, FUP, 2019 pdf gratuito, download al link https://fupress.com/catalogo/angelo-maria-bandini-in-viaggio-a-roma-(1780-1781)/3981



Students who for reasons of disability or specific learning disabilities (DSA) need compensatory tools will be able to communicate to the professor their needs so as to be directed to the referents and agree on the adoption of the most appropriate measures.

Teaching methods

Frontal and online lessons; bibliographic research laboratories, and visits to libraries.

A research on the history of libraries on the librarianship characters of Italian libraries evaluated by European travelers will be assigned; it will be the first topic dealt with in the examination.

The teacher will make available some review and in-depth material.

"In consideration of the type of activity and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity requires the prior participation of all students in modules 1 and 2 of training on safety in the study places, in e-learning mode"

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral interview starting from the presentation of a topic chosen by the student or from a research assigned.

The teacher will evaluate the mastery of the content and of bibliography of the course, the ability to synthesize and analyze the themes and concepts, the use of an appropriate language, and also the critical and methodological abilities matured by the student.

You will notice that lack of training, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the bibliographic materials offered during the course will be evaluated negatively.

Teaching tools

Commented projection of original bibliographic texts.

Commented projection of images of historical and contemporary libraries.

Research exercises given by teacher.

It should be noted that initiatives (seminars, conferences, presentations of books ...) reported and / or organized by the teacher are to be considered part of the Teaching and will be recognized at the oral final exam.

The teacher can provide the assignment of a work to be discussed it during the oral examination.

Office hours

See the website of Fiammetta Sabba