Advancing Digital Empowerment
of Libraries in Europe

Data driven approach: the Register of Italian Libraries

This year, the Register of Italian Libraries has been updated with data from the latest Survey of Libraries Open to the Public, conducted in 2023 by the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), and carried out in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture, Regions and Autonomous Provinces. The updated figures show that 7,309 institutions in the Register of Italian Libraries.

The survey serves to enrich the wealth of statistical data useful to the community and is also used to update the data on libraries in the Italian Libraries Database. The Italian Libraries Database is the result of a national census of libraries launched in the early 1990s, coordinated by the Central Institute for the Union Catalogue (ICCU) – who is also an ADELE project partner. Thanks to the collaboration of Regions, Universities, ecclesiastical bodies and many cultural institutions, this has led to the overall identification of the libraries present on the territory and to the creation of a general and unitary information tool on the library sector in Italy.

The number of libraries registered in the database has been constantly growing since its launch. Additionally, the database regularly receives data from the ISTAT survey since 2018. The objectives of the survey are:

  • To achieve an exhaustive mapping of Italian libraries, accurate information on their characteristics, activities and services provided.
  • To build a virtuous and systematic process of data collection in order to provide historical series on the theme.
  • To create a tool able at orienting sectoral policies at national level and initiatives for the promotion of cultural activities and reading.

The libraries involved in the survey are public reading libraries, specialised libraries, which are also open to an outside public, and preservation libraries. Still excluded from the survey are all libraries that do not provide services to the public, public and private university libraries, school libraries, libraries that exclusively preserve digital or audiovisual and multimedia materials, and libraries open exclusively to a private or internal audience.

Collecting data is a key starting point for designing and planning future actions. As part of the ADELE project consortium, ICCU strongly believes in the power of the data driven approach to take responsible decisions as the ADELE tool aims to do.

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