With its main emphasis on Italian art, the library stocks specialist academic literature, covering the period from late antiquity to the present day. Compendia and reference works relating to affiliated disciplines such as history, literature, classical archaeology, theology, church history and philosophy also make up important parts of the collection.
The library currently stocks a total of approximately 300,000 volumes, a figure that does not include over 2,600 different periodicals (numbering approximately 60,000 volumes). Permanent subscriptions currently exist for almost 1,070 journals.
The Collection's Areas of Specialization
Artists’ monographs, art-related exhibition and collection catalogues, literature dealing with the artistic and cultural topography of different regions in Italy, and original manuscripts have traditionally constituted the main focus of the collection. In relation to the latter category, the Kunsthistorisches Institut conserves a distinguished collection of rare works, comprised primarily o original editions, which date from the birth of the printing press to the present day. Recently, the library has responded to the increased emphasis on research activity at the Institute by initiating a more intensive collection of primary and secondary literature on the subject of ‘Mediterranean Art History’ (with a particular focus on Byzantium) and ‘19th century Italian art’, which takes account of the more international and interdisciplinary nature of contemporary research.
Since 1972, the library has been awarded annual subsidies, for the purpose of increasing its holdings, by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG), whose programme promotes specialist libraries. Art-related publications on central and northern Italian art, and literature pertaining to Italian art from the 19th century to the present day are collected by order of the DFG.
Library holdings increase by 5,000 and 6,000 volumes annually. This figure does not include the approximately 1,000 individual periodicals or journals published annually. The majority of purchases are financed through budgetary funds and DFG subsidies. Approximately one third of the library’s annual acquisitions are received in the form of donations or as a result of interlibrary exchanges.
The library's entire holdings occupy three floors and a total of 34 rooms in the Institute’s building. All sections of the library are freely accessible to users with the exception of the approximately 7,500 particularly valuable and rare works (“rari”).
The library collection is classified systematically according to the following main groups:
- Artists’ monographs (Italian artists)
- History of Italian art
- Artistic topography (places and regions in Italy)
- Applied Arts
- Non-Italian art
Of the affiliated disciplines, ‘Archaeology’, ‘Literary History’, ‘History’ and ‘Travel Literature’ receive individual classifications.
Each individual section operates in accordance with its own micro-classification system.
Library patrons have access to photocopiers and digital scanners.