Libraries are numerous in Italy, those even of small cities being often rich in manuscripts and valuable works.
The libraries of the city contain an aggregate of some 300,000 volumes.
Besides the Government reference libraries at the British Museum and South Kensington there are other such libraries, of a specialized character, as at the Patent Office and the Record Office.
Statistics collected in 1893-1894 and 1896 revealed the existence of 1831 libraries, either private (but open to the public) or completely public. The public libraries have been enormously increased since 1870 by the incorporation of the treasures of suppressed monastic institutions.
The monastic buildings required for public purposes have been made over to the communal and provincial authorities, while the same authorities have been entrusted with the administration of the ecclesiastical revenues previously set apart for charity and education, and objects of art and historical interest have been consigned to public libraries and museums. By these laws the reception of novices was forbidden in the existing conventual establishments the extinction of which had been decreed, and all new foundations were forbidden, except those engaged in instruction and the care of the sick.