Becoming a public library in pandemic times

In Anglo-Saxon and American countries, public libraries represent a service for the community supported by the community itself. In Italy, on the other hand, the public library was born with an erudite imprint marked by the devolution of the heritage of ecclesiastical libraries and by the opening to the public of court libraries, as the concept of “public” has long meant the national appropriation of the library patrimony and cultural heritage and its preservation as a “national asset”. Only in recent times the concept of the public library, in the Anglo-Saxon and American sense, has been imported into Italy as a service to the community.

In Italy, in fact, there are many “historical libraries” closely linked to their inestimable patrimony, which are deeply rooted in times. In this context, we would like to introduce you to a historical library that has recently acquired a dual nature, a historical library and a public library open to the entire community: the Mozzi-Borgetti Library of Macerata.

Ancient hall, Mozzi Borgetti Public Library, Macerata

The Mozzi Borgetti Library was founded in 1773 in the building formerly belonging to the Jesuit college of the town. Currently, the library has 350,000 volumes, including 10,000 manuscripts, 300 incunabula and 4,000 publications dating back to the 16th century, but it also has a music and theater collection and a vast collection of photographs.

At the end of 2019, the library opened a new wing, entirely dedicated to public library services. In a short time, its activities have thus included new users.

The initiative has strengthened the role of the public library. Furthermore, in 2013 the library was the promoter of the programme entitled “Nati per Leggere“, obtaining in 2018 the national award for the category “Debut projects”. Over the years, promotional activities aimed at younger readers have continued, involving schools and promoting the services that the library offers, including the new MLOL digital platform, which during the lockdown has dramatically increased e-book loans and promotion on social media.

Public library hall, Mozzi Borgetti Public Library, Macerata

The library is also involved in an international project. The Municipality of Macerata leads the Adrinetbook project, funded under the Interreg-Adrion 2014/2020 EU program. The goals of this initiative, launched in March 2020 and lasting 30 months, are the promotion, enhancement and protection of cultural heritage related to the Adriatic-Ionian area. In this context, the Mozzi Borgetti Library will collaborate to digitize and make available several online books, including some of the most valuable books preserved in the library and part of the book collection of the art historian Amico Ricci.

Baby hall, Mozzi Borgetti Public Library, Macerata

Currently, the library has just launched a new activity to engage young users (ages 7-11): the STEAM project. This initiative aims to identify a new approach to learning which focuses on five disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, hence the acronym) using challenges, storytelling, coderdojo and problem solving. And although the pandemic requires a first phase in streaming mode, there will be attendance appointments in May. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the library’s dynamism and ability to engage users through new methods and approaches. The initiative is part of the BibliOpen project presented as the Territorial System of the Municipal Libraries of Macerata, funded by MiC with the Reading Promotion Fund.

The most recent activity organised by the library is the project entitled “Illustriamo la parola”, consisting of an online training course for teachers and librarians and workshops for young people on the narrative illustration techniques and storytelling through images.

A brand new way to engage with the community.

By ICCU

Images provided by the Mozzi Borgetti Library – Municipality of Macerata

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