Another library faces closure: the library of Rovigo's Accademia dei Concordi

Not only the Warburg Institute library, which we mentioned a few days ago. That of the Accademia dei Concordi in Rovigo is also in danger of closing.

A few days ago we told you about the library of the Warburg Institute in London, which is in danger of being dispersed because of a dispute with the University of London. Today we return to the subject of libraries because there is another one, much closer to us, that is in danger of closure: it is the library of theAccademia dei Concordi in Rovigo.

The Accademia dei Concordi is a very important, and ancient, institution: it was founded in 1580 by a Venetian nobleman, Gaspare Campo, who wanted to create in his palace a circle of intellectuals, artists and men of letters. Since then, the history of the Academy (named after the concord that was supposed to distinguish the work and visions of its members) has continued uninterruptedly to the present day. And over the centuries, the Academy has been endowed with an impressive library, which today consists of more than 250,000 volumes, including also valuable manuscripts and illuminated manuscripts, such as the Historiated Paduan Bible, which dates back to the 14th century. The risk now is that this immense patrimony, which belongs to everyone and can be freely consulted (also because the Academy’s library has the function of a civic library), will fail to find the funds that can continue to ensure its enjoyment.

L'Accademia dei Concordi di Rovigo
The Accademia dei Concordi of Rovigo
Photo taken from Accademia dei Concordi - Culture cannot die

In an article published on June 26 in Rovigo Oggi, Enrico Zerbinati, president of the Accademia, explains that under the agreement that in 1836 sanctioned the collaborative relationship between the Accademia and the Municipality of Rovigo, the latter has to bear half of the expenses “that the Accademia faces to ensure the public library service, a heritage of knowledge annually shared by about 50,000 users.” It seems, however, that of the ?300,000 that the municipality is supposed to guarantee, for 2013 about half has been paid, while for 2014 the municipality has yet to pay anything. The consequences? In order to meet the accumulated debts, the library may close its doors.

As we learn from another article in Rovigo Oggi, published on June 28, the municipality would like to re-discuss the terms of the agreement with the Academy. But in the meantime, the Academy’s board of directors has already resolved to close the library as of July 7, until the municipality pays what it owes (and it is likely that the injunction against the municipality will also start on July 7). The alternative is the permanent closure of one of the most important libraries in the Veneto region, with all that this will entail: the impossibility for the public to access an exceptional library patrimony, the impossibility for scholars to conduct their research on the Academy’s books, the closure of a space for gathering and socializing (the library also has a very active section dedicated to children), the loss of a place where culture is made and experienced, and of course also the loss of jobs.

Already in 2012 the Academy had risked closure, again for the same reasons. The alarm had then receded, but the situation has always remained very precarious: and the new closure risk proves it.

Culture thus suffers yet another affront. The people of Rovigo in the meantime are already mobilizing: a Facebook page has been created, Accademia dei Concordi - La cultura non puņ morire, which collects discussions and coordinates possible demonstrations in support of the library: they are already talking about organizing something (flash mobs or debates) for July 7, the date from which, as mentioned above, the library will close its doors if the municipality does not pay its due. And the closing of the library due to the lack of the City’s contribution can only mean the failure of the policy of the City of Rovigo. Because policy has a duty to promote culture. Bringing a library to closure means losing part of a city’s identity, it means taking away spaces from citizens, it means taking a further step towardbarbarization, it means further loss of affection for politics, which by closing the library will be making a decidedly self-defeating choice. Nor should we forget the gravity that constitutes the closure of an institution that has distinguished the city of Rovigo for centuries. These are all damages caused byinsensitivity to culture. An insensitivity that threatens to deprive Rovigo of its library.

Federico Giannini - Ilaria Baratta