Libraries in Italy

What you should know

The library structure in Italy is generally poor and nowhere near as good as those of the UK and US. Libraries are likely to be small, rather inefficiently run places, where locating a book can take weeks rather than minutes.

However, there’s a large state-owned library in every city, which may have a small foreign-language section. To become a member you must provide identity and a number of photographs. State-owned libraries are usually open from around 10am to 5pm or sometimes a little later on a couple of days per week.

Rome and Florence house the most English-language libraries, including those of American universities and English-language churches; the Harold Acton Library in Florence is one of the largest English-language libraries in continental Europe.

The British Council has a library at its branches, expatriate associations and clubs often run book-lending services or libraries (e.g. the Santa Susanna Lending Library in Rome), and foreign embassies house reference libraries, although you need an appointment to use these.

Most private libraries require annual membership, for which there’s usually a small fee. Ask at local consulates and expatriate clubs for information.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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