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Our library

The Italian Cultural Institute was opened in the 1950’s and its Library was created at the same time from a very large donation of books from the Italian Cultural Institute in Bucharest. The Institute’s Library collections have continued to grow and expand over the years reflecting the considerable interest in the United Kingdom in the history, politics and art of our country and in the life of the Italian community living in Great Britain particularly from the aftermath of World War II to the present day.

In view of the very considerable importance Italian culture has always held in the history and development and progress of European Civilisation from the Roman Empire onwards, it is hardly surprising that many libraries in the United Kingdom hold large collections of Italian books. Among these: The British Library, in the first place, with its magnificent holdings of Italian books and manuscripts including the world’s largest collection of Italian incunables, The London Library in St James’ Square, historically a centre of study and a meeting place for scholars, not to mention the splendid holdings of Oxford, Cambridge, The John Rylands Library in Manchester, the University of London, especially the LSE (London School of Economics) and the libraries at The Victoria and Albert Museum and at The Royal Institute of British Architects.

However, the Library of our Institute is truly special in that it is the only library on British soil whose collections are totally and exclusively dedicated to the promotion and divulgation of the Italian Language and of Italian Culture.

Literature is a mirror and an image of reality and represents it like a filter which preserves the humours, feelings and sentiments of a culture and diffuses it into its immediate surroundings. Books, especially when written in their native language, form a precious and eloquent reflection on thousands of small details which would otherwise escape our attention, they are priceless testament of profound and important aspects of a country and provide a true and accurate measure of the soul of its inhabitants.

This is why we can truly consider the Italian library at 39 Belgrave Square as a special place, an oasis in the heart of London on which the written testaments of the vicissitudes, lives and events of the People of Italy have been accumulated over many years – a small treasure which we are very happy to safeguard.