Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Case Study No. 1006: Staff of the Malatestiana Library

Biblioteca Malatestiana
Immagini, stampe, codici e corali in formato digitale.
La Biblioteca Malatestiana di Cesena e stata proclamata dall'UNESCO Memoria del Mondo.
E il primo bene italiano ad ottenere questo prestigioso riconoscimento.
Tags: Touch screen biblioteca codici manoscritti stampe Malatestiana UNESCO Memoria del Mondo Malatesta Novello Cesena Memory of the world corali
Added: 10 months ago
From: wmldesign
Views: 316

[scene opens with a closeup of an interactive touch-screen table in the Malatestiana Library (whose screen displays the message "Biblioteca Malatestiana, Memoria Del Mondo"), when a person reaches in from off camera and "swipes" through various images from the library's collection/architecture]


From touchwindow.it:

From today, visitors to the Malatesta will find a welcome change: within the library Piana, just below the portrait of a generous Cesena Pope, Pius VI Braschi, lover of the arts and books, was placed a computerized table with interactive touch screen technology high and of great emotional impact.

Thanks to it, in fact, you can browse some of the most prestigious library of codes - from the magnificent choir of the Cathedral, the books of Malatesta Novello, manuscripts of the collection of Pope Pius VII - and still navigate between images and photographs, reading short descriptions or interacting with the illuminated pages.

Particularly fascinating vision of the choir, the intense notes of Gregorian chant performed by the Choir "Music Enchiriadis" in Cesena directed by Pia Zanca.

All images (over 300) are in high definition (thanks to the photographer Ivano Giovannini and wmldesign) and this allows you to zoom in stunning fashion, with a simple touch of the hand, so that the smallest details can finally be caught in all their beauty.

Even the photographs of Cesena and the library - from the historical to the latest - if you zoom in duty, reserve surprises and discoveries to no end and details not otherwise appreciable.

With this touch table - produced by Touchwindow of Cervia - the Malatesta, as well as offering a service to date and worthy of the title that belongs to UNESCO Memory of the World, confirms the choice to work through the new technology and informatics to foster knowledge and disclosure of a truly extraordinary historical heritage.


From wikipedia.org:

The Malatestiana Library (Italian: Biblioteca Malatestiana), also known as the Malatesta Novello Library, is a public library in Cesena, Emilia-Romagna (Italy). It was the first European civic library, i.e. belonging to the Commune and open to everybody. It was commissioned by the Lord of Cesena, Malatesta Novello. The works were directed by Matteo Nuti from Fano (a pupil of Leon Battista Alberti) and lasted from 1447 to 1452.

The Malatestiana Library is the only one in the world, of the type called humanistic-conventual, which has preserved structure, fittings and codexes since its opening for more than 550 years. The main doorway was the work of Agostino di Duccio (1418-1481). The wonderful walnut door dates back to 1454 and was carved by Cristoforo da San Giovanni in Persiceto.

Inside, the library shows its geometric design, typical of the early Italian Renaissance. The aula has a basilical shape ("temple of culture"), with three naves which are divided by ten rows of white, local stone columns; the campates are eleven for each aisle, pole vaulted . The central nave is barrel vaulted and ends with a rose under which is the gravestone of Malatesta Novello.

The fittings are composed of 58 desks, with coat of arms at the sides. The light comes in through the 44 Venetian style windows, which were perfectly designed for reading. Inside are conserved 340 precious codexes covering various fields such as religion, Greek and Latin classics, sciences and medicine. The oldest manuscript in the library is a copy of Isidore's Etymologiae.

In 2005 UNESCO included the Library in the Memory of the World Programme Register.


From unesco.org:

The Malatesta Novello Library

The Library of Malatesta Novello, the last ancient library dating from immediately before the invention of printing, embodies the very concept of a humanist library.

With its building, furnishings and manuscript collection, it constitutes a monumental and bibliographical complex of outstanding importance and is acknowledged the world over as the only fifteenth-century library still intact. The architectural design, which is possibly by Leon Battista Alberti, is splendid and innovative, but the focus and essence of the library are the books themselves. Besides the great works of medieval culture, Malatesta Novello collected the fruits of the classical Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arab traditions so that he could realize his project of a universal culture along humanist lines. The precious 343 codices are still in the place where they have lain for the past five centuries and are still linked to their original fifteenth-century chain on the same reading benches. The whole constitutes a book collection and an ideal endowment worthy of the library of a prince of the first half of the Renaissance.

Thanks to this cultural project, Cesena, despite its remote position and in company with Florence, Milan, Ferrara and Rome, was a driving force of humanist culture, the foundation of Western civilization. The Malatestiana, which started life as a gentleman's library, was donated by Malatesta Novello to the local commune for public use and thus became one of the oldest public libraries in Europe.

Inclusion in the Memory of the World Register would undoubtedly help the Malatesta Novello Library to make the best use of the management's longstanding activities regarding conservation of the Library and universal access to it. This is proved by the project Catalogo Aperto dei Manoscritti Malatestiani (Open Catalogue of Malatesta Manuscripts). The catalogue has been operational for the past year on the Internet under the WWW.ISIS 5.0 programme and offers unprecedented iconographical, textual and bibliographical material. Access is easy, the service is free of charge and information is plentiful.

The Library of Malatesta Novello consists of 343 codices of different provenances and eras. To establish this collection, the Lord of Cesena added 126 codices, homogeneous in their writing and decoration and produced by his own scriptorium, to the codices owned by the Convent of St Francis and to the bequest of a group of manuscripts, some of them bought or received as gifts, from Giovanni di Marco, his personal physician. Their binding conferred a uniform appearance on the corpus of the Cesena manuscripts, all of which are nowadays still kept, as they were in Malatesta Novello's time, in the building erected to house them.

In the mid-fifteenth century, Malatesta Novello built a library in the Convent of St Francis that would transmit to his descendants his reputation as a book-loving prince. Even as the library was being built, he started to prepare a valuable collection of manuscripts which, in keeping with his unifying cultural project, was to become the ideal endowment for a humanist library. The variety of genres demonstrates the founder's desire to establish a universal collection for public use.

The present arrangement of the manuscripts still reflect today the main outlines of the old order: the codices, five per bench, are divided by subject with, on the right, as a rule, the sacred writings, the Church Fathers, Bible commentaries and theological works; on the left are legal, classical and historical texts, contemporary writings and Hebrew manuscripts.

The manuscript collection in the Biblioteca Malatestiana has remained intact over the centuries as the result of a whole series of special measures and precautions.

First of all, Malatesta Novello did not entrust his library to the Franciscans, the convent where it was set up, nor to his own descendants, but to the Commune of Cesena. He introduced strict regular controls, which were exercised even during his lifetime by the town magistrates, who drew up reports that can be found in the records of the commune's proceedings. Because of this completely innovative rule, the Malatestiana codices survived unharmed both the end of the Malatesti domination and other eventful periods of history that elsewhere caused the dispersal and loss of famous aristocratic and monastic libraries.

At the end of the fifteenth century, the commune was especially strict in its protection of the manuscripts. It refused to lend them even to influential persons such as the Bishop of Verona, Gian Mattei Giberti (1532) and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1540), the nephew of Pope Paul III. When the French revolutionary troops arrived, the codices were virtually walled up for fear of confiscation and were not returned to their place until 1804.

Detailed inventories of the manuscripts were compiled in 1471 and 1474: on the basis of these inventories, written and printed catalogues regularly certified and minutely checked the consistency of the collection and noted its history, vicissitudes, restorations and codicological and artistic aspects.

Even contemporaries celebrated the library's importance and renown, among them the humanists who visited it after 1467, Flavio Biondi, who praised it during the same century as "melioribus Italiane aequiparanda" (comparable to the best in Italy) and the famous typographer, Paolo Manuzio, who found that it possessed "cose mirabili" (wonderful things), not to mention the many scholars who have examined and admired the precious manuscripts over the centuries. The names of the greatest nineteenth-century philologists and historians appear in the library's registers. They include Theodore Mommsen, who frequently consulted St Isidore, and Charles Yriarte, Pierre de Nolhac and Aby Warburg.

The Malatestiana is the model of an aristocratic humanist library which is both unique and universal. Its building, furnishings and books are in a state of perfect and complete preservation. The collection accurately reflects the culture, taste and interests of a cultured fifteenth-century prince inspired by the canons of the humanist civilization which, midway through the fifteenth century, was to become the guiding light and pattern for that age's culture.

Insofar as the formulation of humanism, the complex evolution of its theorization and the developments thereof can be achieved through libraries, then the Malatestiana represents the sole, intact and perfect witness to such a fundamental moment.

Choice of language early modified Malatesta Novello's original concept of a library: as a direct result of humanist theory and practice, which adopted the language of the ancients, the collection included only volumes in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. However, the Library's catalogue is not confined to the most illustrious examples of classical literature but is enriched by ancient treatises on science and technology, ranging from geographers to mathematicians, doctors, students of agriculture and the authors of naturalist encyclopaedias. There are also translations of the major scientific, medical, philosophical and mathematical works of the Arab world, represented by Avicenna, Averroes, Albumasar, Haly Abbas, Rhazes and their commentaries. Besides contemporary authors, Malatesta Novello supplemented the ancient classics with the texts of Christian thought (Bibles and biblical commentaries, also in Hebrew) and many of the works of the Church Fathers, among whom St Augustine, St Jerome and St John Chrysostom stand out by their importance and fame.

The choice of each manuscript accords with the end in view, namely, to provide an exhaustive general view of the cultural principles on which the Library is based.

The world significance of the Malatestiana is strengthened by the decision to open the collection to the public under the supervision of the communal authorities.

Against the broader background of Renaissance experimentation, Cesena enjoyed at mid-fifteenth century, under the overlordship of Malatesta Novello dei Malatesti, an extraordinary period of artistic and cultural splendour culminating in the vast Library project.

With his passion for culture and books, Malatesta Novello was by no means alone among the lords of his time, who were extraordinary propagators and patrons of humanism. These were splendid years for the history of books and libraries in Italy, as well as in the rest of Europe.

For an idea of just how favourable the times were to Malatesta Novello's project, it is perhaps worth mentioning what had been happening in Florence during the previous decade over and beyond the major collections. In order to save the extraordinary collection of the famous book-lover Niccolo Niccoli, and to fulfil the latter's testamentary wish that his codices be made available to the public, Cosimo I de' Medici had commissioned the construction by Michelozzo of a new library in the Convent of St Mark while continuing to enrich and complete the collection. In 1442, the registration of loans by the neighbouring Este Library had begun. During the same period, Pope Niccolo V had expressed a desire to create a specific site for a large library for the use of scientists.

Given the prevailing cultural climate, it is therefore unnecessary to say that the creation of the Malatestiana was not an exceptional event. What is exceptional is that it is the only library to have remained almost intact down to the present day even in the most minor details. We can therefore talk of a "miracle".

The work of bibliographical renewal undertaken by Malatesta Novello forms part of the ancient collection of the Convent of St Francis, which comprised some 50 volumes, among them works on religion and medieval scholasticism together with patristic literature. The task was to fill in the obvious gaps in the collection: the copying workshop set up by Malatesta Novello, which operated from 1450 to 1465, produced some 130 codices intended to renew and complete the Franciscan collection as well as texts with a humanist tinge (literature, science and history), with special emphasis on the Church Fathers. The donation by Giovanni di Marco, Malatesta Novello's personal physician, also a devotee of the precious codices, supplemented the collection with works on fundamental medicine, astronomy, philosophy and literature.

The Malatestiana codices demonstrate from the artistic viewpoint a standard of production that in its elegance, richness and refinement makes them worthy of mention in the same breath as the most important manuscript collections of Italian humanism. A group of miniaturized manuscripts by artists of the Ferrara school, including the great Taddeo Crivelli, is of incomparable value.

The Library has always permitted direct access to the collection, subject to adequate safeguards aimed at preserving the material, historical and cultural integrity of the documents. Following a reasoned request, scholars and researchers are allowed to consult works in a special room enjoying suitable safety and conservation conditions.

Since March 2002 there has been general access to this heritage via the "Catalogo Aperto dei Manoscritti Malatestiana", which can be viewed on-line on the Library's web page (www dot malatestiana dot it). The Catalogo Aperto (Open Catalogue) is continually evolving thanks to information added flexibly at local level over the network. The presence of a related database compiled as a result of development of the WWW.ISIS 5.0 application gives its pages functionality, versatility and dynamism.

In addition to the large and steadily increasing number of digital images, the Catalogo Aperto dei Manoscritti provides bibliographies, codicological descriptions, a discussion forum and specific texts that supplement knowledge of individual manuscripts.

Conservation and protection of the Malatesta Novello Library are the main duty of the Malatestiana, which complies with the security and conservation regulations laid down by the Italian State for libraries.

The preservation service consists of a librarian/conservator (with a master's degree), a librarian (with master's degree), a photographer and 10 operator/guides. For special projects, use is made of outside specialists.


From homolaicus.com:

The Malatestiana is the only example of a monastic humanist library, perfectly preserved in the building, furnishings and book collection, as UNESCO acknowledged by its inclusion in the Memory of the World Register, the first in Italy.

The idea of the library is attributed to the friars of St. Francis, who intended to construct one for use as a studium, annexed to their 14th century monastery.

For this purpose, in 1445 they received permission from Pope Eugene IV to make use of a bequeath and began work on the building, probably in 1447.

In 1450 the initial participation of Malatesta Novello was documented, a Cesena noble who adopted the friars' project and constructed his own library in their monastery.

The model inaugurated by Michelozzo (1444) in the Dominican monastic library of St. Mark in Florence inspired the Malatestiana in Cesena, upon which Matteo Nuti, glorified to alter-Daedalus in lhe epigraph seen by the entrance, laid his insignia: "MCCCCLII Matheus Nutius Fanensi ex urbe creatus Dedalus alter opus tantum deduxit ad unguem" (1452. Matteo Nuti, born in Fano, known as Daedalus, brought such an opus into being).

Crowning the tympanum of the portal is the elephant, emblem of the Malatesta family, with the motto "Elephas Indus culices non timet" (The elephant fears not the culidae - a genus of the mosquito), whilst to the sides of the architrave and on the pilaster capitals there are the heraldic coats of arms showing the pícket fence, three heads and chequy.

The dark wooden door ís the work of Cristoforo da San Giovanni in Persiceto and dated 15 August 1454, a solemn and festive day for the town which in that period celebrated the important fair of "fiera d'agosto".

The carvings, the Gothíc style, repeat rosette motifs and helixes, laid out in such a way as to recall the Malatesta chequy.

The Malatesta coat of arms is also reproduced in the interior, on the capitals of columns in the hall and on the 58 pluteuses (29 each side), the imposing wooden desks in whích the codices are held.

The creation of this harmonious, light-filled hall does not seem greatly different to that of the designer of the Malatesta Temple in Rimini, Leon Battista Alberti, with similarities in a whole series of geometric and proportionate relationships in the layout and elevation of the building, reminiscent of the new Renaissance culture of perspective codified in the De re aedifìcatoria, a celebrated architectural treatise also by Alberti.

Absolutely innovative, in fact, is the triple nave plan, all three with vaulted ceilings: the central vault barrelled, with slightly wider and lower cross vaults to the sides.

The light, distributed through ogival arch windows, two per span, spreads along the side naves, whereas for the central nave, marked by twenty elegant columns with escutcheoned, pendent-leaved capitals, is lit longitudinally by the great oculus in the end wall.

From here a fascínating beam of light falls on the floor epigraphs, commemorating the donor: "Mal(atesta) Nov(ellus) Pan(dulphi) fil(ius) Mal(atestae) nep(os) dedit" (Malatesta Novello son of Pandolfo grandson of Malatesta gaveth).

Even the colour plays a precise role: the white of the central columns, the red of the terracotta floor and half columns, and the green of the plastering, brought back to light in the 1920s, redolent of the colours of the Malatesta family coats of arms.

To equip hís collection with a series of volumes adequate and appropriate for the planned líbrary, the Cesena noble appointed a scribe who, through well organízed and planned tasks, in a time span of around twenty years produced over a hundred and twenty codices.

The collection is inspired by the humanist model in both its littera scripta, albeit certain codices are in Gothic or semi-Gothic script, and in its texts whích include classic authors, Doctors of the Church and translated Greek works, wíth a particular predilection for the historians and the discoveries of contemporary humanists.

Memorable among the scribes were Jean d'Epinal who copíed at least thirty-six codices, Jacopo della Pergola to whom Malatesta Novello entrusted the transcription of onerous works such as the splendid De civitate Dei by Saint Augustine (D.IX.1), and also Brother Francesco di Bartolomeo from Figline, who was also the first custodian of the library.

Among the Malatesta copyists used mainly for the humanist works, also worthy of mention is Andrea Catrinello from Genoa who undersigned one of the copied codices on the day Malatesta Novello died (20 November 1465).

Along with this group of scribes, also active at the court of the Cesena noble were another six or seven Nordíc writers who used the Gothic script.

Among these, the German Mathias Kuler, who in the explicit to the S.IX.3 described himself as a lover of the good life and pleasures of the company of women: "Amen. Bonum vinum in taberna, consortia mulierum consumpserunt omnia. Venite exultemus".

At the behest of a single patron and produced in a short time, the collection has a strongly systematic, encyclopaedic character, since it is destined not for the personal interest of the commissioner, but lo the studies of an entire community.

This unitary character is also evident in the manuscript decoration.

Malatesta Novello declared his role as promoter, instructing that each initial page of every codex should bear his richly and antiquely decorated coat of arms, and the initials M. N. depicted in gold or other colour on a rectangular, gold leaf background.

The manuscripts commissioned or acquired by Malatesta Novello (around 150 specimens) therefore integrated with the pre-existing monastic setting, composed in the 14th century yet rich in even older codices, such as the 9th century Etymologiae of Saint Isidore (S.XXI.5).

Added lo the collection were medical and scientific texts, and also literature and philosophic texts, donated by Giovanní di Marco from Rimini, doctor lo Malatesta Noveìlo and an equally enthusiastíc collector of codices.

Fourteen Greek codices, very likely acquired by Malatesta Novello in Constantinople, seven Hebrew codices and others donated to Novello, plus a number of other codices added in later centuries complete the collection, which totals 343 manuscripts.

Still today, the volumes are held in their desk, which the dual role of an inclined lectern and deposit for books on the shelf below.

Here the codices, normally five per pluteus and subdivided by subject, are laid horizontally and bound to the desks with wrought iron chains.

This habit was probably born from the necessity to provide adequate protection for such precious books.

The Cesena noble, who perceived the Library as an undying symbol of his renown for posterity, ordered, by an entirely original and intuitive decision, that the library also be entrusted to the care and attention of the Cesena community.

In fact, already in 1461 the municipal council began to perform rigorous controls every two months on books held in the pluteuses.

In 1466, after the death of Malatesta Novello, the council even obtained permission to excommunicate anyone removing the codices.

Double control of the collection therefore developed, one by its custodians of St. Francis Monastery who guaranteed its use, and the other by the local Council, who supervised its integrity and respect.

Nomination of the custodian-librarian, according to the wishes of Malatesta Novello, also fell to the municipal council.

In this way the history of the Malatesta Novello Library and its prodigious preservation, which still today represents the greatest pride of Cesena, is also the history of a symbol felt to be the property of, and loved with exceptional loyalty by, Cesena citizens.


From boston.com:

A small library in Italy whose history rivals its volumes
By Irene S. Levine

If you're a lover of books and libraries like I am, you'll get a rush stepping inside what is said to be the first public and monastic library in Europe, the Malatestiana Library. The experience is made even more remarkable when you learn that despite wars and natural disasters, the building, its furnishings, and manuscripts have all remained virtually untouched since the structure was built in the middle of the 15th century.

On a recent road trip along the Via Emilia (the ancient Roman road that runs from Rimini to Piacenza), my husband and I had visited impressive fortresses, castles, and churches in a land that is rich with layers of history. When we stopped to tour the small town of Cesena, near the center of the province of Emilia Romagna, we chanced upon the Malatestiana Library, a gem at the foot of the verdant Appenine Mountains.

The local tourist office provided a delightful English interpreter, Nicoletta Spinolo, who accompanied us on the short walk along cobbled streets to the Basilica of Domenico Malatesta Novello, which houses the library in a wing of the monastery between its two cloisters. Once there, a custodian welcomed us in Italian and used two large keys to unlock the imposing dark wooden doors. Carved in an ornate Gothic style, the doors have repeated rows of rosettes and helixes in a checkered design, celebrating the library's benefactor, Malatesta Novello, a wealthy Cesena nobleman. At the top of the doors is the familiar elephant emblem of his family that we had seen in the duomo in Rimini.

Entering the long, rectangular hall with terra-cotta floors, you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Some have called the library a church in miniature. It is divided into three naves. The wide center aisle is flanked by 20 impressive white, floor-to-ceiling columns, each bearing the Malatesta coat of arms at its top. On each side of the center nave are 29 rows of dark wooden "pluteuses'' that look like pews but multitask as seats with inclined lecterns and bookshelves beneath. They, too, are embellished with Malatesta heraldry, painted in red, white, and green.

Metal braces, placed there by ingenious engineers centuries ago, support the beautiful vaulted ceiling that has survived a series of earthquakes in the area. Used only during daylight hours, the light-filled hall is illuminated by arched windows on both sides and a circular window at the front. Chained to each of the desks are the large leather-bound books, the size of unabridged dictionaries, which were all hand-written before the invention of the printing press.

The idea for the humanist library, which was built between 1447 and 1452, is attributed to the Friars of St. Francis, who wanted a study area annexed to their monastery. In what has been called the golden age of this city, Malatesta Novello agreed to finance the project. This entailed both building the structure and acquiring and commissioning the books. His team of "librarians'' organized a two-decade-long effort to transcribe books they found elsewhere in Europe and return to Cesena with their contents. Six or seven Nordic writers were charged with copying the books into gothic or semi-gothic script; others were tasked to illustrate and bind them.

The library holdings, totaling 343 manuscripts, include legal, medical, scientific, literary, theological, and philosophical works as well as 14 Greek codices and seven Hebrew ones. While it was open to the public, it was not a lending library. The books remain attached to the wooden desks by heavy wrought iron chains as they were then, subdivided by subject and kept in precise order.

The people of Cesena always took great pride in their library as they still do today. In 1461, Malatesta, who turned out to be the last of the town's noblemen, entrusted the Cesena community to maintain strict controls over the library jointly with the friars who were responsible for overseeing its use. This explains the dual key security system that was in place for so many years: One key was for the town officials and one for the monks.

After Malatesta Novello's death, the Town Council obtained permission to excommunicate anyone who attempted to remove one of the volumes. Today, the library's holdings represent a treasure trove for scholars. Because of its unique place in history, in 2005, the library was recognized as the first UNESCO Memory of the World site in Italy.

Malatestiana Library
Piazza Bufalini, 1, Cesena
011-39-0547- 610892

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