Here you can find information on the most important libraries in Milano and on the University libraries.

Sormani Library

Corso di Porta Vittoria 6

Here you can find books covering every field of knowledge, and rich heritage of ancient volumes about figurative arts, humanities and law. Founded in 1956, Sormani Library is Milano's main public library. It also has a private garden open to the visitors. It is part of the Milano Library System (see below)

 

Monday to Saturday 9:00 - 19:30

Public transport: bus 54, 60, 65, 73, 84 and 94 - tram 12, 23, 27 - MM1 (San Babila), MM3 (Missori)

Milano Library System Neighborhood Libraries

24 branches all around the city

The Municipality of Milano provides an extensive network of 24 smaller public neighborhood libraries and a Bibliobus providing coverage in areas without a branch. These smaller libraries are scattered all around the city, and belong to the Milano Library System. The Sormani library is part of the System as well.

The Milano Library System grants free and inclusive access to information: books, audiobooks, ebooks, music, movies, newspapers and magazines. A wide choice of free events for everyone from kids to seniors: author talks, reading, conferences, performance, workshop, exhibitions.

All branches provide free wi-fi and internet enabled computers, quiet reading and study areas, services dedicated to babies, children and teenagers, courses and cultural activities, reader clubs.

Friendly and prepared librarians are keen on giving information, taking you on a tour of the premises, or doing reference for your researches. Many of them can speak English or a second language, or more.

Anyone can register get a membership for free, providing a valid ID. Membership allows to borrow items from all the libraries in the system. Since the interlibrary loan system includes all the branches plus Sormani Library, this gives members access to over 1.600.000 items, around 70% of which are borrowable.

Most of the items are on open shelves and can be picked up and borrowed from the librarians at the desk. Requests for items from all the System to be delivered to the most convenient library can be placed online or in person with the guidance of a librarian. Once items are available, an email will alert for collection. Items may be returned in any of the locations indifferently.

 

Ambrosiana Library

Piazza Pio XI 2

The Ambrosiana Library, founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo on 7th September 1607 and inaugurated on 8th December 1609, was one of the first libraries to be opened to the public, thanks to the gesture of an eminent philanthropist. It was conceived by its founder as a centre for study and culture: in fact, through his intervention other institutions came to flourish alongside, such as the Board of Fellows (Collegio dei Dottori, 1607), the Art Gallery (Pinacoteca, 1618), the Drawing Academy for teaching painting, sculpture and architecture  (Accademia del Disegno, 1620), the Trilingual Board (Collegio trilingue) and the Board of Alumni (Collegio degli Alunni, 1625).

The Ambrosiana Library is undoubtedly one of the most important libraries in Italy and indeed in the world, owing to the vastness of its collections and the number and pricelessness of its codices.

The Library specializes in classical, historical, literary and religious volumes, particularly in a retrospective sense, that is to say, directed at the study of the past: it is run by a Board of Fellows – presided over by the Prefect – which oversees its cultural activity, and by the Board of Trustees – presided over by a Chairman – which is dedicated to its administration.

Among the very rich collections of the Ambrosiana Library special attention is to be drawn to the arab and oriental library collection, which is exceptionally important: the glottological-dialect library of Carlo Salvioni and the heraldry collection of Enrico Casanova. There are numerous palimpsests, with extremely precious and rare items such as the unique surviving fragments of the Vidularia by Plautus, dating back to the 5th century, and part of the gothic version of the biblical texts executed by the Arian bishop Ulfila, as well as many beautifully illuminated manuscripts such as the Libro d’ore Borromeo (Borromeo Prayer Book) by Cristoforo De Predis, or the Aulo Gellio text decorated and signed by Guglielmo Giraldi. However, the most important items are the Ilias Picta from the 5th century, the famous Virgilio with notes in the margin by Francesco Petrarca and illuminated by Simone Martini, Giuseppe Flavio in Latin on papyrus, the Bangor Antiphonary, and the Syro-Hexaplaric version of the Bible. There are moreover various codices such as the original manuscripts of De prospectiva pingendi by Piero della Francesca, of the Marziale completely transcribed by Boccaccio, the Life of Guidobaldo di Montefeltro (Vita di Guidobaldo di Montefeltro) written by Pietro Bembo and the original manuscripts by St. Thomas Aquinas, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Tasso, Galileo, as well as the entire library collections of Giuseppe Parini and Cesare Beccaria.

Many of the incunabula are extremely precious, such as for example the rare edition of the Decameron by Christopher Valdarfer (Venice 1471) and the numerous first editions. The Library owns many priceless bindings of manuscripts and printed documents: among the special collections, to be noted are the statutes, in the Aldine, Cominian and Bodonian editions, as well as the extremely rich collection of drawings, etchings and prints, encompassing approximately forty thousand items. Last but not least, the Medal Collection is made up of more than twenty thousand coins and medals, including some items of exceptionally great value.

 

Monday to Friday  9:00 – 17:00
Public transport: MM1 - MM3 (Duomo station)

Braidense National Library

Via Brera 28

The National Braidense Library (Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense) is one of the 47 Italian State libraries. It depends upon the Directorate General for Libraries and Cultural Institutes of the Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities.

In 1770, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780) offered the vast Pertusati library, initially intended for her son, Ferdinand, to the city of Milano. Maria Theresa’s intention was to establish a modern institution complementary to the Ambrosiana Library (operating since 1609 and boasting a large collection of manuscripts). With the suppression of the Jesuit order decreed by Pope Clement 14 in 1773, the former Jesuit cultural centre in the Palazzo di Brera was acquired as a suitable seat for the Library. The Palazzo was subsequently renovated by Architect Giuseppe Piermarini, who designed the Maria Theresa stately salon - nowadays given over to temporary exhibitions and cultural events –, featuring a life-size portrait of the Empress by Agostino Comerio. The core of the historical collections of the Imperialis Regia Bibliotheca Mediolanensis was based on the Pertusati and the Jesuit collections, with the addition, in 1778, of the private library of well-known Swiss-born physician, Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777), including about 14,000 volumes of medicine, surgery, anatomy and botanics.

The Brera institution kept true to its purpose as a comprehensive and all-encompassing public library throughout the 19th century, with the acquisition of prominent collections like the Alessandro Manzoni donation.

 

Monday – Friday: 8:30 – 18:15. Saturday: 9:00 – 13:45
Public transport: MM2 Lanza

University libraries

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