Earthquake in Italy

The earthquake on 20th May and after on 29th (5,8 and 5,9 scale Richter ) in Southern Lombardy around Mantua and in some provinces of Emilia between Modena, Ferrara and Rovigo. What is dramatic is the persistence of tremors still continuing since tree weeks and with different intensity spread in larger zones of Northern Italy.

Firemen and the Civil Protection at national, regional and local levels promptly solved the logistic problems providing task forces to manage camps in few zones and helping and supporting people to survive out of their houses. More than 110 churches, monuments , castles, courts ancient historic buildings and archeological sites, schools and public services have been damaged, some towers collapsed . Also many facades and roofs and new houses too are broken, or have dangerous cracks, for this reason people were obliged to abandon every thinks.

Small public libraries in at least 40 commons have been damaged .But the important collections in Mantua, Ferrara, Modena are safe. The libraries are in general located into ancient buildings, frequently together with the municipal authority that have been immediately closed since the first day of the quake. In Lombardy at the moment 20 small public libraries are closed and 35 in Emilia Region, included the Estense Library of Modena and that of Ferrara. The Teresiana Library in Mantua has had small damages and the service will be now reopened on next week . The website of Provincia of Mantua gives the information about the library system and the opened/closed services in the municipalities damaged by the quake.


The cooperation system is supporting the user needs of libraries closed . They are waiting for the assessment of risks to restart the services as soon as possible. In few cases the public libraries in a sure location have been reused for other purposes, to help population or to restart jobs in the municipality temporary evacuated.

In few cases the local library is temporary hosting the office of the Major or other urgent public services of the municipality, because the main building is damaged. Ostiglia for example has this situation , in its spaces of the section of ancient music (Greggiati manuscripts ); in another situation the patrons of the Museum Polironiano and the ancient Basilica of San Benedetto Po agreed to move the ancient codices and manuscripts from there to Mantua Ecclesial archive to preserve them . Critic is becoming also the situation of ancient and current archives held in churches or in the sacristies in the annex buildings . In next week after the check of firemen and technicians some civil archives will be moved from their ruined location to another one adequate. Some groups of volunteers of Civil Protection and professionals of libraries and archives skilled in how to manage damaged books and archival papers would be engaged to do all it is necessary .

Ornella Foglieni

Soprintendente Beni Librari – Regione Lombardia

Secretary of Preservation and Conservation IFLA Section

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