The Central Library of the Pontifical Lateran University, first known as the Biblioteca Pia, owes its name to its founder, Blessed Pope Pius IX. Its history is linked to that of the University and its years at Sant’Apollinare, where the Aula Magna was the Library’s first center of operation. The Biblioteca Pia created the primary nucleus of the University’s library collections.

Home to a wealth of valuable resources, the Library drew its earliest collections from the following sources: the Library of the Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum, a portion of which was given to our Athenaeum at Sant’Apollinare after the suppression of the Company of Jesus; books donated by Pope Gregory XIII; the Library of the Padri Geronimiani, whose books were given to our Library in 1854 by order of Pius IX after the closure of the monastery of Santi Bonifacio e Alessio all’Aventino; and finally, the splendidly bound books of Pius IX’s private library.

In 1913, the Roman Seminary’s library was added to our collections, and in the years that followed, the Library received various collections and book holdings through the donations of numerous professors, alumnae, and friends of the University, including Cardinals Della Volpe, Tonti, and Pompilj, Professors Carusi and Riccobono, and former Rector Paschini. The University also received a portion of the private library of Pope Pius XII.

In 1962, this continuous growth necessitated the expansion and modernization of the Library’s material structure, namely a new space for the consultation of journals. Extensive renovation in 1984 included the expansion of the reading room and the transfer of the library depository to a larger space underneath the visible structure. That same year, the library of the Pastoral Institute was joined to the Central Library. In the last 20 years, our resources have also been enriched by the specialized collections of Professors Maccarrone, Giannini, Venturi, Ciprotti, Gelio, Tosato, and Seidl, and of the former Rector Rossano. More recently, on October 21, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the new library structure, which includes the reading room named for John Paul II and new, restructured, and well-organized depositories. A member of the URBS (Unione Romana Biblioteche Scientifiche) network since 1994, the Library officially joined the URBE (Unione Romana Biblioteche Ecclesiastiche) network on February 26, 2007. Since 2000, the cataloging of new volumes and serials has been done electronically, while the electronic re-cataloging of older book holdings continues.