A great experience at the Biblioteca de Reserva: visits and cataloguing of Italian incunabula

Les estades que venen a fer al CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva col·legues europeus en el marc del programa Erasmus+ van més enllà del job shadowing. Comproveu-ho llegint l’experiència de Chiara Cauzzi, una italiana de Cremona que treballa a la Biblioteca universitaria Lugano i que va visitar-nos al mes d’octubre d’enguany.

First of all, I would like to thank the CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva for giving me this opportunity to visit it for one week (21st-25th October 2019). Thanks to Neus Verger, Marina Ruiz, Gemma Caballer and Teresa Palacín, I had the great opportunity to take part in various daily activities of the library.

My name is Chiara Cauzzi and I work at the Biblioteca universitaria Lugano as a cataloguer of early printed and modern books. I deal with the valorisation of the collections and especially of Carlo Dionisotti’s books. Lugano is a small town located in southern Switzerland. The Biblioteca universitaria Lugano contains many different types of documents: modern books, early printed books, e-books, databases, CDs, DVDs, e-journals and periodicals. In fact, it is a hybrid library that is characterized by physical and digital documents. I have a great passion for ancient books and for manuscripts. Furthermore, I’m a PhD student in the History of Libraries at the Università della Svizzera italiana.

During the period of my visit, Marina showed me the collection of ancient books and told me about their history. They came from different convents of Barcelona and after suppressions of the Spanish State, they merged into the University Library of Barcelona. Looking at the books on the shelfs, I noticed that a same bookbinding may suggest a bookbinder in the convent. The CRAI Biblioteca de Reserva contains the second biggest collection of ancient books in Spain and preserves many treasures.

Thanks to Teresa, I also saw three different cataloguing of manuscripts kept in Reserva. It was rather interesting for me to see their digitalisation. I had worked in Milan three years ago for BEIC (a Digital Library) and I could see the differences in the various techniques and procedures. Neus showed me the Digital Library of the University of Barcelona, BiPaDi, and the database of printers’ marks. I found these two projects particularly interesting.

Furthermore, I had two visits during my stay at the University of Barcelona. The first was to Pavelló de la República, a library and archive of contemporary Spanish history. There, I saw different types of materials: documents, books and historical posters, amongst others. The second, was at the Laboratory of Conservation and Restoration, where I had the opportunity to see the different techniques and procedures regarding the restoration of books.

With Marina I analysed the database of former owners and the different types of searches. Each former owner has a page with a biographical description, the photos of ex libris, provenance notes and stamps. Books of a specific owner are linked to the presentation page. Furthermore, I used the database MEI, Material Evidence in Incunabula, and I inserted the provenance notes of three incunabula, kept at the Biblioteca de Reserva: Inc 99, Inc 796-1 and Inc 796-2 (records on the catalogue still to be revised).

These databases are very relevant to me and my area of studies. In fact, I’ve been collaborating with Biblioteca dei Frati Minori of Florence and I have inserted the provenance notes of its 200 incunabula in MEI.

With regards to Inc 99, it is an edition of Al-Razi, titled Liber medicinalis Almansoris, accompanied by other medical treatises. I recognised two different annotators in two different languages. There is also an ex libris of Carles Vicenç Rossell, an owner of this incunabulum.

As for Inc 796-1 and Inc 796-2, they are a Dominicale and a Quadragesimale by Philippus de Monte Calerio, and they both come from the Friars Minors of Barcelona.

This experience was a source of inspiration that has encouraged me to continue my learning and it has certainly been a stimulation for new researches.

Chiara Cauzzi (Biblioteca universitaria Lugano)

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