The Zeri Library is a specialist History of art library. It comprises more than 46,000 books, 37,000 auction catalogs, and 60 journals.
Born alongside of the photo archive towards the end of the 40s, the library represents its scientific continuation. Each is indispensable to the other in order to further study critical knots, reveal correct attributions, and to proceed in the recognition and reconstruction of missing works of art.
The library collection reflects the scholar's professional and personal course, and its planning and placement was personally curated by him within his villa in Mentana.
The library is preserved exactly as its owner left it, as a genuine Author's Library, and its value lies not only in its volumes but its accessibility as well. The library lay-out aims to keep the original arrangement of volumes so as to preserve Zeri's connections and cross-references among sections. The classification system chosen makes it possible to distinguish the original kernel from later acquisitions.
Found within the volumes, and further enriching the value of the library, are dedications, handwritten annotations, and bookplates, as well as letters, ticket stubs, photographs, articles, reviews, theses, and pre-prints, all testimony to the scholar's critical work.
Today over 30,000 volumes are available in the Foundation's Library
, and are cataloged in Opac-SBN (Sistema Bibliotecario Nazionale)
giving the book maximum accessibility, as well as standardizing it with the University of Bologna's library cataloging system.
Making up the important nucleus of the collection are volumes of Italian painting from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, comprised of monographs, catalogs, and extracts (4,823). In addition to those are sections dedicated to foreign painting (4,563), topography (3,680), museum catalogs (2,942), archeology (1,786), sculpture (1,403), applied arts (1,289), architecture (985), exhibition catalogs (975), iconography (911), 20th century art (802), art historians (716), drawings (696), sources (564), non-European art (475), Byzantine art (455), illuminated scripts (387), Medieval art (387), engravings (312), heraldry (295), collector's catalogs (273), and museography and restoration (243), reference books (440).
The collection is further enriched by volumes originally belonging to scholar Franco Russoli (1923-1977), former Superintendent of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, which Zeri purchased in the early 1980s in order to save from dispersion, and they are now distributed to their appropriate sections.
Cataloging has revealed that 60% of the library's texts are not present elsewhere in Bologna, and 20% cannot be found in any other SBN library.
The library, whose shelves are entirely accessible, boasts 30 reading stations equipped with internet access, and computer stations from which the photo archive and the library's catalogs can be consulted.
The design and furnishing of the large book reference room was conceived by architect Sergio Bettini, and was made possible thanks to a contribution by the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna.