National Library of Malta

Identity area

Identifier

Authorized form of name

National Library of Malta

Parallel form(s) of name

Other form(s) of name

Type

  • National

Contact area

Type

Address

Street address

CMR 02

Locality

Valletta

Region

Country name

Malta

Postal code

Telephone

(356) 21243297

Fax

(356) 21235992

Note

Description area

History

The idea of a public Library in Malta originated in 1555 with the issue of a decree by Fra' Claude de la Sengle, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, whereby all books in the legacy of deceased knights were to pass to the Common Treasury of the Order. It was not until 1776, however, that the formal foundation of a Bibliotheca Publica was decreed at the Chapter General of the Order convened by Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan. The main collections were those belonging to Fra' Louis Guérin de Tencin, Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order who had died in 1766, and of Cardinal Joaquin Portocarrero, which de Tencin himself had purchased on the Cardinal's death in 1760. The Library was for a time named Bibliotheca Tanseana in de Tencin's honour. De Tencin is still today considered the founder of the Library. The books accruing to the Library, some very rare or with fine bindings, continued to be kept in cramped quarters in an edifice known as the Forfantone. De Rohan decreed the building of new premises to the designs of Stefano Ittar, a Polish-born architect residing in Italy. The building, situated in the heart of Malta's capital city, Valletta, was completed in 1796 but two years later the Order of St. John was expelled from Malta by Napoleon and during the French 2-year period, the books remained at their former premises. It was only in 1812 - during the British administration - that the new premises were officially inaugurated by the British Civil Commissioner, Sir Hildebrand Oakes. From then on, the Malta Public Library, as it was then called, continued to flourish with a number of new acquisitions. In 1925, the Library acquired its "legal deposit" status by an Act of Parliament and 11 years later was granted the prefix "Royal" by King George V. The following year the Royal Malta Library took over the custody of the Archives of the Order of St. John which were transferred from the Public Registry premises. With the setting up of the new Public Library in Floriana in 1976, the Library in Valletta was officially designated as the "National Library of Malta" and became solely a research and reference Library.

Geographical and cultural context

Mandates/Sources of authority

Administrative structure

Records management and collecting policies

Buildings

Holdings

Incunabula
Library Manuscripts
Melitensia
Maps & Plans
Archives

Finding aids, guides and publications

PRINTED COLLECTIONS

The sheaf catalogue. The pre-1955 holdings of the Library, which are shelved on fixed location (including incunabula), are recorded on slips held in loose-leaf binders. These binders are arranged in two sequences: alphabetically by author and numerically by the older editions of the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme. The latter sequence, therefore, provides an approach by subject to the collections.

The card catalogue. In 1955 the sheaf catalogue was closed and a card catalogue was started. The entries are on standard 5" by 3" library cards which are filed in wooden drawers. Again, the cards are arranged in two sequences: an alphabetical and a numerical one. In the alphabetical sequence, authors, titles and series are interfiled, while the numerical sequence reflects the subject order according to the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Online Public Access Catalogue. Melitensia acquisitions received at the National Library dating from 1995 onwards, have been entered into an automated library catalogue, known as the Online Public Access Catalogue or OPAC. The advantages of the OPAC over the traditional catalogue-card system lie in its versatility as a research tool. Using the database, users can retrieve books by author, title, series, subject, classification number, as well as by a keyword search.

Online Catalgoue: http://opac.library.gov.mt/

MANUSCRIPTS

The records of the Order of Malta, the Treasury and the Università as well as the manuscripts belonging to the Library may be traced through printed indexes compiled in the last century.

Archives of the Order of Malta:
A project of indexing the documents undertaken in collaboration with the University of Malta was begun in the 1960s and is still underway, thanks to the cooperation of scholars and students. Copies of the latest publications as well as back issues of the catalogues may be ordered from Malta University Publishers Ltd on e-mail address mupl@campus.um.edu.mt

The following is the list of Catalogues of the records of the Order of St. John published so far:
Vol. I - Arch. 1-72. A. Zammit Gabarretta, J. Mizzi. Malta University Press, 1964
Vol. II pt. 1 - Arch. 73-83. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1970
Vol. II pt. 2 - Arch. 84-87. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1973
Vol. II pt. 3 - Arch. 88-90. J. Mizzi. University of Malta, 1978
Vol. II pt. 4 - Arch. 91-93. J. Mizzi. University of Malta, 1978
Vol. II pt. 5 - Arch. 94-96. J. Mizzi. University of Malta, 1979
Vol. II pt. 6 - Arch. 97-99. F. Azzopardi. University of Malta, 1979
Vol. II pt. 7 - Arch. 100. F. Azzopardi. University of Malta, 1988
Vol. II pt. 8 - Arch. 101-102. G. Aquilina. University of Malta, 1991
Vol. III pt. 1 - Arch. 255-260. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta, V. Borg. Royal University of Malta, 1965
Vol. III pt. 2 - Arch. 261-267. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta, V. Borg. Royal University of Malta, 1966
Vol. III pt. 3 - Arch. 268-279. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta, V. Borg. Royal University of Malta, 1966
Vol. IV - Arch. 280-315. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta. Royal University of Malta, 1964
Vol. VI - Arch. 634-643. Paul Cassar. Malta University Press, 2002
Vol. VI - Arch. 647. Joseph S. Abela. Malta University Press, 2001
Vol. VI - Arch. 1110-1125. Rev. Francis Azzopardi. Malta University Press, 2000
Vol. VII - Arch. 1126-31, 1135-38, 1140-43. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta. Royal University of Malta, 1964
Vol. VIII - Arch. 1182-1199. J. Mizzi, A. Zammit Gabarretta, V. Borg. Royal University of Malta, 1967
Vol. X - Arch. 1649-1712. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1969
Vol. XI - Arch. 1713-1758. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1969
Vol. XII - Arch. 1759-1943a. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1968
Vol. XIII - Arch. 1935-2084b. J. Mizzi. Royal University of Malta, 1967
Vol. XIII (Supplement) - Arch. 2038-2071. S. Fiorini, W. Zammit. University of Malta, 1990
Vol. VII [Class. XVI] - Arch. 5578-5666. Patrizia Biscarini. Malta University Press, 2002

Treasury:
The Treasury documents are also listed in a printed catalogue.

Codices and Library Manuscripts:
There exists a printed catalogue in numerical order of manuscripts as well as a card index by author and by subject to facilitate retrieval of documents. Both are available in the Reading Room.

Access area

Opening times

Access conditions and requirements

Accessibility

Services area

Research services

Reproduction services

Public areas

Control area

Description identifier

M-NLM / CENDARI Italia

Institution identifier

IT-FEF

Rules and/or conventions used

Descrizione conforme allo standard ISDIAH (Standard internazionale per gli istituti conservatori di archivi) Italia

Status

Draft

Level of detail

Partial

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2012-11-19

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

  • Latin

Maintenance notes

Elisa, Brunoni

Access points

Access Points

Primary contact

CMR 02
Valletta
MT