Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense
Libraries are resources to face the challenges of the present, “public granaries capable of amassing reserves against the winter of the spirit” wrote Marguerite Yourcenar.
The goal of the Biblioteca Braidense in the future is to become “the ideal library”, described by Umberto Eco, a national and international model for research, projects and exhibitions that can defend, enhance, preserve and promote reading, writing and the book, as well as its priceless collections which today number over 1,500,000 volumes. “The author may die, but not the book” said Eco. In a digitized world where with a click everything seems within reach, the library must be considered as a place where the book continues to live, becoming our common heritage: a library that “serves to produce interpretation and interiority, given that the notion of the survival of soul is based on memory “.
The library follows a different path than that of the Pinacoteca di Brera, which in recent years has returned to being a museum “in the heart of the city” and at the same time with international scope. Although physically adjacent, the Pinacoteca and Library, although they have a single origin, are in fact “non-identical twins”, neighboring institutions that run along on parallel tracks. The library that does not want to be just the place to look for a book whose title is already known, but, in the words of Umberto Eco, where to find the book whose existence was unsuspected.
The Biblioteca Braidense, which had 125,000 visitors and over 35,000 readers last year, plays an important role in the Italian and international panorama, the third largest library in the country after the other two national libraries in Rome and Florence. With its historical and contemporary collections, it provides for their cataloging, conservation and enhancement in the interest of the general and specialist public, and ensures the restoration, reproduction and protection of documents. In 2019 it acquired and cataloged almost 15,000 modern volumes (about 40% of the new Italian editions) and 18,000 works from the ancient collections for the Italian national library service. It has about 2,000 manuscripts, 350 of which are medieval, 2,306 incunabula and 25,000 volumes from the sixteenth century.
Since 1994 the Biblioteca Braidense has cataloged its resources in electronic format which currently exceeds 1,148,523 records, but the number of material kept at all its locations (Brera, the Mediateca Santa Teresa, the Cavallerizza, Morimondo) exceeds 2 million titles. Enriching the collection with new acquisitions, catalog the collection and keep the books and documents, make the library collections available (physically and online), and ensures the promotion of reading and studying through educational activities , one of its main missions. With its exhibitions, on the other hand, it presents the library’s collections, promotes the book, together with the importance of reading, writing and collecting.
Open to the public since 1786, the library has been an exceptional place for cultural exchange. Imposing and suggestive, the Biblioteca Braidense has at its heart in the Sala Maria Teresa, dedicated to the Habsburg empress who created it, where you can admire masterpieces such as the first terrestrial globe that reproduces the extent of the poles, while its shelving is original, designed by Giuseppe Piermarini. The ancient Jesuit room, also called Sala Teologica because volumes of a religious nature are stored in its wooden and briar shelves, has become the reading room. Finally, a room dedicated to Lalla Romano with manuscripts and objects belonging to the writer was inaugurated in 2014.