The History of the Library
The first documents pertaining to the existence of a library collection belonging to the Accademia, date to the second half of the 18th Century: they consist of four directories of manuscript and printed works preserved in the "Carte Segni" ('Segni papers') section of the Historical Archive. Three of them are ascribed to the hands of the Academicians Carlo Dati (1619-1676) and Giovan Battista Compagni (1660-1722); the author of the first two papers of the fourth directory is still unknown but they owe their completion to the Academician Alessandro Segni (1633-1697).
As research into the sources of the Academic Archive stands at the moment, there is no evidence of the existence of an institutional Library during this period. However, it is likely that a library collection existed since the foundation of of the Accademia (in 1583) and that the Academicians stored the texts needed for the compilation of the Vocabolario in their homes. Still a century later, in the edict of 7 July 1783, (with which the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo united the three academias of the Crusca, the Accademia degli Apatisti and the Accademia Fiorentina) only a generic mention is made of "stock" needing to be merged with the library collections of the Biblioteca Magliabechiana, the Magliabechian Library.
In order to find the first explicit reference to the Library, it is necessary to look as far ahead as the ‘Costituzioni per il Regolamento interno dell’Accademia della Crusca’ (‘Constitutions for the Internal Regulations of the Accademia della Crusca’), of 3 August 1813, a few years after the reconstitution of the Accademia by Napoleon Bonaparte: "On the Duties of the Librarian. The Librarian will keep the Library of the Accademia in good order, will stock it continuously with books required by the Academicians for their studies and will keep an exact catalogue of them”.
In the course of the 19th Century the Library received particular care and attention from the Academicians who took up the post of librarian: the first report on the condition of the Library was made by Francesco Fontani between 1817 and 1818; In the 1840s, Antonio Targioni Tozzetti took on the job of reorganizing the Library and the Archive, while in the second half of the century Antonio Zannoni compiled the first catalogue of manuscripts.
The present set-up of the Library dates back to the 1960s, when the Accademia, which had been robbed of the agelong enterprise of compiling the Vocabolario in 1923 because of a decree by Minister Gentile, regained and relaunched it with modern lexicographic criteria and instruments. The reorganization of the Library also began then, subdividing it into sections and giving it a new catalogue, to make it into a resource suitable for the compilation of the new Vocabolario. The growth of the library’s collections followed these directives:
- to complete the already sizeable collection of dictionaries with the acquisition of ancient and modern works, Italian, foreign and dialect works, and with the purchase of lexical indexes, concordances and linguistic atlases;
- to accompany the purchase of dictionaries with that of theoretical texts of lexicography and lexicology and to build, with Italian and foreign periodicals and treatises, a general linguistics collection essential to all kinds of modern linguistic scientific research and development;
- to purchase editions of Italian literary and documentary texts, both ancient and modern, carried out with philological and linguistic precision, as well as those containing scientific and technical terminology, to which the Accademia had extended its lexicographic and lexicological interest.
Such a systematic enrichment, pursued consistently for forty years and integrated through the donation of sizeable linguistic and literary collections (including the Fondo Bruno Migliorini, Fondo Pietro Pancrazi, Fondo Francesco Pagliai, and Fondo Alberto Chiari) have made the library of the Crusca Italy’s only specialized library for the study of the Italian language and general linguistics.
The Library is also enriched by its valuable special collections: some contain mostly literary works, for example the Fondo Pietro Pancrazi, the Fondo Francesco Pagliai and the Fondo Alberto Chiari, while others like the extremely rich Fondo Bruno Migliorini contains precious material for the study of the Italian language and linguistics more generally.