A new Library for Milan and Italy

A new Library for Milan and Italy

In recent decades, a number of cities in Europe and around the world have built large new, open shelf, multimedial libraries. This fact shows the degree to which the need was felt to provide public spaces designated for the transmission of knowledge: hence we have seen the building of, so to speak,  modern secular 'cathedrals' that play a powerful role in the community. Such places function as centres for social and cultural coalescence; virtual services also emanate from them. The Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura (Beic) is to be a new kind of public library, and will at the same time foster interdisciplinary research in science and the humanities. 

Milan and its large metropolitan area does not have a major public library that can meet the demands the 21st century — a library able to satisfy the information, cultural and dissemination needs of a population topping 7 million, whilst at the same time serving as a public meeting place and context for social interaction.

The Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura (which will also close a gap at a national level) aims to serve Milan's entire metropolitan community, and in particular those in need of information and cultural services of a general, but not entirely banal nature; information of an elevated, but not specialized level, then. It will be complementary to specialized university libraries because of its interdisciplinary character. The new library has been conceived for readers of all ages: a young person or ordinary citizen of any age who is driven by simple curiosity or an interest relative to current affairs, their day to day life, or their relationship with civil society and its institutions; a student who's embarking on a research project or wants to nurture a particular area of study; scholars and researchers who might need to expand the horizons of their research beyond the narrow confines of specialization; professional and business-oriented people, public officials and managers, and anyone who might find it necessary to read up on any subject or update their professional knowledge base. The library will therefore seek to provide access to information that responds to a very wide range of needs.

For this reason, a plan has been drawn up for the development of paper-supported and digital collections in which books, periodicals digitized texts, databanks and web-based information selected according to carefully formulated scientific criteria will be brought together in an integrated whole. 

By means of logical planning of its cultural and organizational choices and strategies, the new library intends to combine within its overall structure the characteristics of a large public lending library with those of a research library, so as to create an institution that will be complementary to historical and university libraries, and likewise to the needs of interdisciplinary research, which increasingly will represent an elemental approach to promoting knowledge acquisition. Also included among the library's goals are those of developing an effective reading education programme and a distance learning center linked to universities and schools in a national network to be agreed upon with the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research.

The new library aims to offer citizens of all ages a quiet and comfortable study environment — an environment specifically designed for reading and the absorption of knowledge, for thought, for writing, and for sharing with other readers the processes involved in learning and cultural growth.