The Libraries seek to support research in both the linguistic and literary aspects of Italian language and literature, including the teaching of basic and advanced language skills, the history of the language, Romance philology, and a detailed study of major authors together with their literary masterpieces. It supports the needs of undergraduate, MA/MS and Ph.D. students, the teaching faculty, post-docs, and researchers.
During the first half of the 1990’s, there was a marked decline in the number of graduate students in the department and an expanding interest in Leopardi and women writers.
Areas of established specialization: Collecting in this field has been active since the early part of the 19th century, beginning with the addition at that time of most of the personal library of the great librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. Of particular interest are the works and critical materials of Dante, Patrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Tasso, Alfieri, Foscolo, Manzoni, Montale, Leopardi, Pirandello and Ungaretti. The collection consists of approximately 17,000 volumes and is housed in the General Library, although that part formerly housed in the old Paterno Library has never been integrated into the General Library shelf list. Standard works of all classics are sought, both in Italian and, when available, in English as well. Critical materials are for the most part either in Italian or English, although critical materials in other major European languages are occasionally included if no translation into either Italian or English is available. In-depth coverage of the Italian language—its history, grammar, phonetics, morphology, syntax, lexicography and its philology—is maintained. Dialects and Italian literature appearing outside Italy itself are generally not collected, however.