The Montevergine Library is a Public Library depending on the Ministry of Arts and Culture - General Direction for Library Heritage and Cultural Institutes. It is one of the eleven public libraries annexed to the National Monuments of Italy. The Library is inside the Loreto Abbey in Mercogliano, a small jewel of the Neapolitan baroque architecture. It is a cultural centre where meetings, seminars, lectures and exhibitions are achieved in order to promote the richness of its collections and the cooperation with other cultural institutions, such as the Town Council of Mercogliano. For its great historical importance it is the destination of many visitors.
The history and the collection
The Public Library is annexed to the National Monument of Montevergine inhabited by the Virginian monks. This Congregation was founded by a Northern Italian pilgrim, William from Vercelli. While he was on a journey for the Holy Earth, he was attracted to Partenio mount. Here he settled down and built a Sanctuary whose consecration was in 1126. He and his followers devoted themselves to a mystical life, to the worship of the Virgin Mary and to the famous Rule of Saint Benedict.
Because of the harsh winter, the Virginians founded a sort of hospital in Mercogliano but it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1732. The construction of the new palace, between 1734 and 1750, was designed by two Neapolitan architects: Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and Michelangelo Di Blasio. The fusion of curved and straight lines, the octagonal shape, antique halls, eightheen century paintings, frescos and stuccos make the Abbey original in all of its aspects. In the same period monks moved their precious manuscripts and documents from the Scriptorium of the Sanctuary to the Loreto Abbey. Owing to the dissolution of the religious orders in 1866, the monastery was suppressed in common with all other Italian religious houses. In 1868 it was declared National Monument, the members of the community were allowed to remain as care-takers and their monastic Scriptorium became a public library.
At the present day Montevergine is the property of the Italian Government. According to the Italian Library Rules (Regolamento DPR July 5th 1995, no. 417), it aims at, above all, preserving, enhancing and promoting the historical collections, and acquiring the published production on the basis of the specific collections and considering the users' needs. It preserves nearly 200.000 printed volumes, 1.016 cinquecentine, 24 codices, 38 incunabula, and 449 serials. Since 2000, the library has joined the SBN-Servizio Bibliotecario Nazionale (National Library Service), a project aimed at building a computerized national network to exchange bibliographic information and circulate items.