Over the course of thirty years, the library of the Pontifical Council for Culture has built up a considerable collection. It now serves the work of the Dicastery as a resource for the study of phenomena tied to contemporary culture, such as religious indifference and atheism, the areas in which it is strongest. It also has a good Reference Section with encyclopaedias (Treccani – Le Robert – Britannica); dictionaries (of theology, the Bible, Mariology, art, cinema, science, etc.); and maps and directories, as well as grammatical tools for the main European languages. There is a great richness in the languages present, with Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese dominating, but German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Arabic and Chinese also present.
With the fusion in 1993, the library inherited the collection of the Pontifical Council for the Dialogue with Non-Believers, which is a closed-section consisting of 3942 volumes. The running number of volumes now in the catalogue is over 16,000 titles.
There is also a discrete collection of periodicals covering culture, theology, philosophy, science, art and other fields of study for the Dicastery.
The Dicastery also houses a minor library which contains books on art, and a second which hosts the donation of Prof. Peter E. Hodgson, English nuclear physicist, who was a consultor of this Dicastery and whose scientific works are made available by the Department “Faith and Science”.
The library is open to all: students and scholars from offices, schools and universities, particularly the Roman Pontifical centres. It is appropriate to contact the librarian a few days before visiting (06 69893804) in order to make an appointment. This will help to ensure that volumes and consultation space are made available, as books may only be consulted on site and not taken away.
The computerised card-file catalogue – which may soon be made available online – lists books by collocation number, consisting of three numbers. The first indicates the sector, the second the argument, and the third the progressive, or “chain” number. Then come the date of insertion, author, title, series, editor, year, ISBN, place and language. The files also signal the main arguments of the book, offer a summary of the book’s content (if the book is particularly important) and have space for notes which can point out some of the book’s special factors.
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