Milano is UNESCO Creative City for Literature not by chance: besides a flourishing publishing industry, the city hosts a huge number of libraries, some among the most ancient in Europe. Discover the most important libraries in Milano and 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.

Anyone in Milan can register and 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.

Milano libraries are a great place to study, too.

Ambrosiana Library

Piazza Pio XI 2

The Ambrosiana Library is undoubtedly one of the most important conservation libraries in Italy and in the world, owing to the vastness of its collections and the number and pricelessness of its codices. 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 "anyone that could read, and write".
It was conceived by its founder as a comprehensive cultural centre for study and culture along with 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 Tri-lingual Board (Collegio trilingue) and the Board of Alumni (Collegio degli Alunni, 1625).

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 supports researchers with reference and material, it is tradition for scholars to donate the resulting publications to the Ambrosiana.

Among the very rich collections of the Ambrosiana Library special attention is to be drawn to the arab and oriental library collection, 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.

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

Braidense National Library

Via Brera 28

In 1770, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780) wanted 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 National Braidense Library (Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense) is one of the 47 Italian State libraries. That means that every book or item published in Milano, since Maria Theresa times, is sent to Braidense: hence the importance of its collections and its constant growth of about 15000 items per year.
 

That is why it is a gold mine for students and researchers. The monumental rooms are worth a visit, too.

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

University libraries