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The Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, belonging to the Italian Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e del Turismo is an international research library specializing in the conservation and study of its manuscript and rare book collections.

Reader access

Reader passes can only be issued to scholars who can prove they are conducting scientific research requiring access to manuscripts or rare books. Direct consultation of originals can be granted only for justified reasons, but complete black and white microfilms and colour slides of illuminations of all manuscripts, papyri and unbound papers in the Library's care are freely accessible. Readers who have been admitted to the consultation of manuscripts and rare books may request modern printed material as well. Modern material, readiliy accessible elsewhere in Florence, will not be issued to readers unless they are studying manuscripts or rare books. This is in order to keep the Library's Reading Room free for all those who need to see printed or manuscript material available only in this Library. Normally Italian or foreign citizens who are not of age (viz. under 18 year olds) are not admitted.

The Library is accessible to those with physical disabilities by stairlift.

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How to apply for a Readers Pass

Applicants should produce a valid document bearing a photograph as proof of their identity (e.g. a Passport, an Identity Card or an equivalent). Documents released by Institutions and other library passes are not considered sufficient.

Applicants are required to specify the subject and scope of their research as well as the kind of material they wish to consult. They are also requested to give precise and adequate details concerning the Reaearch Institute they refer to. Their relationship or membership with the Institute must be proven through letters of recommendation, cards, etc.

University students and Ph. D. students as well as giving details regarding the subject, scope of their research and the material they wish to examine, should produce a letter of recommendation on headed paper signed by the University Professor who acts as Director of their research. The letter should state the student's curriculum, his/her capacity to work with manuscripts or rare books and the approximate time required for the study
of the items cared for by the Library.

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Select manuscripts and delivery of books

On conservation grounds a limited number of manuscripts has been excluded from normal distribution to the public. However their faximiles (if existing), complete black and white microfilms or colour slides can be provided instantly for examination. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that readers or applicant readers should write in advance to obtain confirmation that the manuscript they wish to study can actually be consulted (it may also be the case that the item, normally accessible, is temporarily elsewhere on loan or undergoing restoration). If a codex which has been excluded from direct examination is required, readers or Research Directors on behalf of University and Ph. D. Students should explain in writing the specific reasons of their request and how the direct observation of the manuscript is essential to the progress of their work. The requests must be submitted, with due motivation, by e-mail to the Manuscripts Office – b-mela.manoscritti@beniculturali.it – several days before visiting the library. Normally readers are allowed one manuscript or rare book at a time and no more than ten items per day. No more than ten loose folios will be delivered at a time. Readers who require to examine a larger number of documents per day should contact the Director and ask permission. It is not necessary to reserve items in advance. Manuscripts, rare books and other printed material may be reserved for use in the next days, although all items will be replaced on the first and fifteenth day of the month. Reference material is on open access in the Reading Room.

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Opening hours and days of closure

The Library (for Book and Manuscript consultation) except for the Summer period is open on:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays : 8.00 am - 2.00 pm

Tuesdays and Thursdays: 8.00 am - 17.30 pm

Saturdays: closed

Items are delivered during opening hours without interruption. Order slips are not accepted after 5,00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and after 1,30 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Books and manuscripts must be returned 15 minutes before closing time.

It is closed on the religious and civil feast days normally recognized by the Italian State. It also is closed to the public from 1 to 15 September to allow dusting and revisions. During this period a basic information service is provided by telephone or fax. The Library is closed on 1 and 6 January, 25 April, 1 May, 2 June, on 24 June, feast of John the Baptist, (the patron saint of Florence) 15 August, 1 November, 8, 25 and 26 December.

The Monumental area (Vestibule, Staircase and Library by Michelangelo) will be open to the public on occasion of the exhibitions normally held. »» Read – pdf

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Services and facilities

1) Baggage

Please note that the Library is not equipped to hold bulky luggage or cases. You will be requested to leave them at the railway of Santa Maria Novella.   

2) Loans

The Library sends its manuscripts, rare books and printed material out on loan for exhibitions according to current regulations. Items cannot be borrowed by individuals. Interlibrary loans of non rare books and reproductions are made upon previous payment of an insurance covering postal expenses. Loans are suspended during the first two weeks of September due to annual revisions. All documents out on loan must be returned to the Library during this period. Loans may not exceed 15 days.

3) Reproductions

In order to preserve and safeguard the material in its care the Library has had all the manuscript holdings and features of the monumental section microfilmed or photographed. Details of illuminations have also been reproduced on colour slides. The microfilm, photograph and slide collection is accessible to the public. Upon payment of a fee copies from the original microfilms, photographs and slides can be obtained for study or publication/ commercial purposes. However, in the latter case, an extra fee is required to cover the Library's copyrights. Charges are determined by current rules.

How to pay royalties to the Library

Icona  Application form for reproductions for private study

 Application form for publication commercial purposes

 Form for photographs already in your possession

Icona pdf How to pay reproductions to the Photo Laboratory GAP s.r.l.

Icona pdf Pricelist of Reproductions

Icona pdf Photographers availability

The Library provides access to its digital resources online though its open catalogue. It also provides an enquiry service, both written and oral. Only general information (opening hours, services and guidelines for applicants) can be given by phone.

4) Tours and lessons

On request and if appropriate, the Library organizes or hosts lessons and guided tours of its modern and monumental sections.

Use and occupation of areas belonging to the Library

On request and if appropriate, the Library authorizes the temporary use and occupation of its monumental sections (viz. Michelangelo's Reading Room and Staircase, the d'Elci Rotunda, the upper and lower ambulatories) upon payment of the fees foreseen by current law.

5) The Archivio di S. Lorenzo

The Archivio di S. Lorenzo, belonging to the Basilica of S. Lorenzo, can be consulted in the Library's Reading Room provided that documents are ordered at least one day in advance. In order to facilitate non residents it is possible to send requests by fax at least two days in advance (on receipt of the document it is then necessary to fill out an official request).

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