Querini Stampalia Library, a friendly place for Venetian people with a huge both ancient and new book heritage

20 January 2022

1400 manuscripts, 42 thousand old printed books, among which rare editions of incunables and “cinquecentine”, 3 thousand engravings and more than 350 geographic maps and atlas. And a modern printed collection involving more than 400 thousand volumes. This is the heritage belonging to the Querini Stampalia Library, attended every year by approximately 62 thousand users. A friendly place for Venetian people, who consider this library as a room more added to their houses.

“Venetians are really attached to the library because it’s the place where they’ve studied – Marigusta Lazzari, the director of the Querini Stampalia Foundation – Here, young boys and girls meet each other, it is a place of feeling, heart, home. Also the architect Mario Botta came here when he was a student, because this is a clean place, warm in winter and fresh in summer, as established by Giovanni Querini. Besides, there are books that are not findable in any other site. Botta gave us his restoration project as a sign of gratitude for the years passed in here”.

In his will, Giovanni Querini left written testimony by affirming that the library would be open “every day, even during hours in which the other public libraries are closed, especially at night, so as to facilitate scholars”. His intent is still concrete thanks to a daily opening until midnight, also during feast days.

A library always making the difference, like when in 1938, after the emanation of the racist laws, it continued to maintain Jewish books in its catalogue and on the shelves, by facing the norms which wanted to abolish all of them. 

“The Venetians know the library because they are used to attending it when they are young and, then, by growing with the pass of time, they also learn to appreciate its surroundings – Lazzari adds – new members are given a museum ticket to promote their motivation to know what’s behind”.

In the 90s, the library joined the National Library System and its collective catalogue, whereby library’s data are made accessible to users from all over the world.

“10% of the modern collection is directly available in the rooms, the rest is in the storages and so accessible only through a previous request in distribution. Then, we have an important ancient collection of manuscripts, incunables, cinnquecentine, engravings, prints, and drawings. One of them is the prospective map of Venice “a volo d’uccello” by Jacopo de’ Barbari – the director goes on – the library is general and is used as a support and base when studying. Also, some sections are specialised in art and architecture, not only Venetian. It can be said that today university libraries provide for specialised demands about subjects, because they are obviously attended by students through different modalities. We also have a remarkable “periodical park”: beyond 250 yearly subscriptions available. They are magazines of different nature, from the history of literature to sciences, because the main characteristic of this place is offering something more”.

When people are studying, they can take a break in the new café or in Carlo Scarpa’s garden. People entering this garden are almost in religious silence, so as to listen the water gurgling by canalising in narrow artistic labyrinths. Here, nothing is left to chance. For example, even the essences, trees, plants and their fragrant flowers are able to mark the slow passage of seasons in a seemingly eternal place like this.