History of the SBA

The first nucleus of Ca' Foscari University of Venice library originated with the foundation of the School of Commerce in 1868. The library and reading room were located on the first floor of Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

Thanks to donors, the library exceeded 5,000 volumes already in 1871 and was structured in sections: Commerce and Industry, History, Travel, Geography and Cartography, Statistics, Law, Economics, Chemistry and Natural History, encyclopaedias and lexicons.
The library also collects lecture handouts, transcribed by hand by the students and lithographed, and publications by the graduating students (Library of the Old Students Association).

At the end of the 1930s, the library's holdings amounted to around 65,000 volumes, making it necessary to find new premises; the library was therefore transferred first to the Rio Nuovo building and then to Ca' Giustinian dei Vescovi. In 1937, it took on the name of Biblioteca Generale (General Library), also acting as a “service centre” within a system formed by the numerous book collections that had in the meantime formed around the workshops, chairs and seminaries – for which it carried out inventory and acquisition filing activities – while the University's general catalogue could be consulted only at the central location.

In 1975, the General Library was moved to the new headquarters at Ca' Bernardo as a reference library, while the specialised library collections (institute, seminar and workshops), which now exceeded 30 units, formed the departmental libraries.
At the end of the 1980s, the computerisation of the catalogue began, with the retrospective conversion of all card catalogues.

In 1995, a slow process of transformation of the University Library System began, with about 30 departmental and centre libraries merging into the area libraries, corresponding to the four faculties.
The Science and Technology Library (BAS) and the Economics and Management Library (BEC) were activated in 2004, while the Arts and Humanities Library (BAUM) and the Languages and Cultures Library (BALI) were in 2005.
Also in 2005, the General Library was closed, while the ancient library, the historical book collections and the historical archive became part of the University Historical Fund.

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History of libraries

With its collections, the Languages and Cultures Library (BALI) can be considered as the most specialised structure in Northern Italy in the field of language-cultural and oriental studies.
Following the establishment of the Language Hub in 2005, BALI was set up in 2011 and consists of 5 sections (located in decentralised sites) corresponding to the subject/language areas that belong to the Departments of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies and of Asian and North African Studies.

Library of American, Iberic and Slavic Studies: it is made up of the library funds of the Department of Iberian Studies, former Spanish Seminar (1939-1996), those of the Section of American Language and Literature (1937-1996), those coming from the Section of Eastern European Studies (Slavistics) of the Department of Eurasian Studies, including the Czechoslovak (1972-1986), Polish (1968-1982) and Russian (1944-1994) funds. The library holdings are approximately 60,000 volumes, some of which are open-shelf, and 193 current periodicals.

Library of Language Sciences: it consists of the library collections of the Methodology (1972-1990), Glottology (1973-1980), Linguistics and Language Didactics (1991-1996), Germanic Philology (1984-1996) Seminars and the Phonetics section (formerly LING II) of the Library of the Department of Italian Studies.
The library's holdings consist of approximately 23,000 volumes and 150 current periodicals, as well as a large collection of CDs/DVDs with local access, especially LIS (Italian Sign Language), which can be loaned for 48 hours if copyright and publishing regulations allow it.

Library of Eurasian Studies: it consists of the library collections of the Arabic (1963-1985), Hebrew (1966-1984), Hindi (1966-1986), Iranian (1969-1986) and Turkish (1971-1985) Seminars, the collections of the Section of Indological Studies of the Department of East Asian Studies and those of the Near East Section of the Department of Classical Studies. The library holds approximately 69,000 volumes, mainly closed-shelf, and 145 titles of current periodicals.

Library of European and Postcolonial Studies: it consists of the library collections English Studies (1937-1996), German Studies (1937-1996), Commonwealth (1973-1983) and French Studies (1937-1996).
The library holdings are approximately 98,000 open-shelf volumes and 198 current periodicals.

Library of East Asian Studies: it consists of the library collections of the Seminaries of Japanese (1967-1992) and Chinese (1974-1993). At the end of 2002, the two hitherto separate sections were brought together in the new premises at Palazzo Vendramin: the Section of Japanese and Korean Studies (based at Ca' Cappello) and the Section of Sinological and Indological Studies (based at Ca' Soranzo).
In July 2003, the Section of Indological Studies was transferred to the Department of Eurasian Studies. Its holdings consist of approximately 40,000 volumes, mainly closed-shelf, and 157 current periodicals.

The Science and Technology Library (BAS) was founded in 1972 as the Library of the Faculty of Industrial Chemistry, later becoming the Interdepartmental Library in 1984, with the establishment of the Departments of Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Environmental Sciences. In 1994, the Library of the Bachelor’s in Information Science, based in Mestre, became the Library of the Computer Science Department in 1999. The two libraries of Chemistry and Computer Sciences were unified from an organisational point of view in 2004 with the birth of the Library of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences (BAS). In 2014, the library collections were physically united in the new premises in Via Torino, at the Mestre Scientific Campus, and distributed over 4 floors, with spaces for individual and group study.
The BAS collections cover the subject areas of Chemical Sciences and Sustainable Technologies, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics, Environmental Sciences, Technologies for Conservation and Restoration and Bio- and Nanomaterial Sciences and Technologies.

Books
The hard-copy book collections of the main sections – Science, Textbooks (LT) and Science and Culture (SC) – are available on open shelves and organised using the Dewey classification system. In the LT section, reference texts for the last 3 academic years are available.
The library collections in electronic format are available on the university network. All collections are searchable through the cerCa’ portal.
The BAS collections are mostly in printed format, but are increasingly being digitised. In the 2012-2017 period, purchases in electronic format accounted for approximately 50% of the total purchases.

Journals
Journals in the scientific area are available online on the University network, thanks to consortium purchases made by the University Library System. In addition to these, the library acquires and makes available a number of specialised periodicals, all accessible in electronic format. The library's old printed collections of periodicals are preserved and placed in the repository and can be consulted on request.

The Arts and Humanities Library (BAUM) was created in 2006 from the merger of the libraries of five departments (Philosophy and Theory of the Sciences, Italian Literature and Romance Philology, Classical and Near Eastern Studies, History of the Arts and Conservation of the Artistic Heritage, Historical Studies) of the School of Specialisation for Secondary Education and the School for Social Workers.
It is located within the humanities hub of Palazzo Malcanton-Marcorà and is spread over five floors, two of which are basements.

The Economics and Management Library (BEC) has been open since 2005. By virtue of the merging into a single macro-collection, the new 3500 m2 building in San Giobbe immediately brought together the bibliographic assets of the libraries of the Departments of Economics and Business Management, Economics, Statistics and CeDoSta (Centre for Statistical Documentation), and in 2010 also those of the Department of Applied Mathematics and the Degree Programme in Tourism Economics and Management.

Since September 2015, with an expansion of its spaces, the library also houses the Legal Sciences collections, consisting of the documents of the Law Seminar, established in 1922, at Ca' Foscari palace and the collections of the Department of Legal Sciences previously located at Ca' Bottacin, consisting of a rich bibliographic heritage in the areas of Private and Public Law, History, Philosophy and Theory of Law.
The library's holdings consist of a total of 250,000 volumes, 300 current periodicals and 3000 closed periods, as well as electronic resources in the field of economics (databases, ejournals and e-books).

The Digital Library (BDA) is divided into three sectors:

It was established in 2013 with the function of presiding over the University’s online services and managing the online information resources of the area libraries and the multidisciplinary resources adopted by the SBA Board. Also in 2013, it took care of the path that led to the opening of cerCa', a single portal that allows for the integrated and simultaneous search of the printed and electronic resources of the University’s libraries. In 2014, it joined the Phaidra digitisation project in collaboration with the Universities of Vienna and Padua.
BDA has been the technical and administrative support structure of the Data Monitoring Board since 2016 and of the Ethics Committee (which merged the DMB) since 2021.

An initial census of the archival documentation conserved was carried out in 2002 by the General Affairs division with the collaboration of the University Library System and on the basis of this analysis a project was drawn up for the conservation and enhancement of the archival documentation.
The "Archive Room" on the second floor of Ca' Foscari was set up in 2008 for the collection of part of the material and for consultation.
In addition to the archival documents collected in the Sala Archivio, the Archive collects all the archival documentation conserved in the Celestia deposits and in some other deposits, made available for consultation at the request of scholars.
At the end of 2021, the management of the Document Archive was transferred to the Institutional Affairs Office.

file pdfL’Archivio Storico dell’Università Ca’ Foscari [ITA]
(The Document Archive of the Ca' Foscari University) - a cura di Antonella Sattin
3.21 M

Since its foundation, the University has received numerous ancient books as gifts from Venetian institutions and private citizens, some of them of considerable value and rarity.
In their stratifications and intertwining with the various funds and collections, acquisitions through gifts and purchases of the ancient library constitute a precious source of information on the scientific and cultural environment of the former Higher School, then of the Royal High School of Commerce and of the University Institute of Economics and Business and, since 1935, of Ca' Foscari University of Venice.

Among the publications of considerable historical value for the University are those of the professors who succeeded one another in the various courses, the Yearbooks and the official publications edited by the School (including the programmes of the courses), the Bulletin of Associazione Antichi Studenti (Old Students Association founded with the support of Alessandro Pascolato in 1898), which offers a detailed chronicle of the life and events of the School, the lithographed handwritten lecture handouts from the late 19th and early 20th century, the manuals and essays indicated in the course programmes, and the publications acquired as a research tool for lecturers.

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Last update: 14/02/2024