Our Italian collections cover all periods and a wide variety of subjects. They include material published in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino and publications in Romansch.
About the collection
The collections are particularly strong in history, literature, the visual arts, language and linguistics, architecture and archaeology. The early printed collections from the 15th century onwards are outstanding including ephemera and popular printing. Later periods, including the Risorgimento and the early 20th century are also very well represented, with a significant collection of Futurist material.
Important contemporary monographs, serials and electronic publications in the humanities and the social sciences at research level continue to be acquired.
What is available online?
As a result of mass digitisation projects, in particular the ongoing British Library Google Books digitisation project, access to a growing number of Italian out-of-copyright digitised books is available free of charge. To find them search Explore the British Library and then refine your result list by Access Options: Online.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
The British Library's online catalogue, Explore the British Library, can be used to search for Italian printed material and order it to a Reading Room.
Most post-1850 Italian printed books and periodicals can be ordered to any of our Reading Rooms, usually within 70 minutes, although an increasing amount of material is held at our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire and may take up to two days to arrive.
Pre-1850 material can be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room, while newspapers, maps and manuscripts are available in their own respective Reading Rooms. All the reading rooms have some reference works on open shelves, including bibliographies, catalogues, dictionaries and general reference works.
A large number of electronic resources are also available through the Reading Room PCs. Staff are available to offer bibliographic and other basic research assistance.
What is available in other organisations?
Notable Italian resources online include:
there are two specialist printed catalogues of our pre-1701 holdings as well as a full-text catalogue of the library’s Risorgimento collection.
- Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in Italy and of Italian Books Printed in Other Countries from 1465-1600, now in The British Museum (London, 1958); and Supplement (London: British Library, 1986)
- Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Italian Books in the British Library (London: British Library, 1986)