The National Central Library was inaugurated in 1876 in a wing of the monumental sixteenth-century Palazzo del Collegio Romano, seat of the ancient Bibliotheca Secreta or Maior of the Jesuits, which formed the original nucleus of the new institution, to which were added the manuscript and printed collections of 69 conventual libraries devolved to the Kingdom of Italy after the suppression of the religious corporations of Rome in 1873. In 1975 the Library was moved to its current location, within the archaeological area of Castro Pretorio, near Termini Station, and was built to a design by the architects Massimo Castellazzi, Tullio Dell'Anese and Annibale Vitellozzi.
The new architectural complex, built in reinforced concrete, glass and aluminum for an area of over 50,000 square meters, is divided into four parts: the book deposit which is spread over ten floors; the offices, atrium and exhibition spaces that occupy a five-story building; the Conference Room and the reading rooms.The Library collects all the Italian publishing production and also documents foreign culture, with particular attention to the dissemination of Italian culture abroad. Currently the Library holds about 6 million volumes, 84,000 manuscripts, 1,938 incunabula, 10,762 musical prints, 20,000 geographical maps, 10,000 prints and drawings, in addition to those collected in volume, and more than 44,000 periodicals. The IsIAO Room Library of African and Oriental collections was also opened in 2019, thanks to the collaboration between the National Central Library of Rome and the International Association of Studies on the Mediterranean and the East - ISMEO. Its more than 200,000 volumes, 2,500 periodicals (between active and inactive), thousands of manuscripts and woodblock prints, geographical maps and photographs, arranged in the two African and Eastern sections, make this library one of the most relevant specialist centres in the West.The audiovisual and multimedia heritage, which includes around 7,500 documents, is also constantly increasing.
In 2001, a vast project of architectural renovation and redevelopment of the spaces and services of the entire complex was completed.
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