The 19th century — Pezzana and the Library's development


In January 1804 by wish of Moreau de Saint-Méry, the French Administrator of the Duchies, Angelo Pezzana was appointed Secretary of the Library. He then became the Library's Director and ruled  until his death in 1862. His directorship coincided with a period of great change for the city of Parma: from French to Absburg rule in 1818 under Duchess Maria Luigia, a liberal sovereign who benefited the Library in many ways: augmenting the collections, embellishing spaces and creating new reading rooms.

 From 1 January 1818 the Library once again was funded by the Duchy's Treasury. Thus, Pezzana  was able not only to provide for ordinary new acquisitions, but also to purchase important   manuscript and printed collections: the library of Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi, expert in Eastern studies, the Albergati - Capacelli collection, the Carte Casapini, the Collection of drawings and engravings once belonging to Massimiliano Ortalli and Raffaele Balestra, the libraries once owned by Bartolomeo Gamba, Michele Colombo and Giovanni Bonaventura Porta, the typographical material belonging to Giovanni Battista Bodoni, and the Stern-Bisliches Jewish Collection.

He organized the Library's books into five main classes: Theology, Law, Science and Arts, Literature, History; he continued Paciaudi's card catalogue up until the 1840's. He also worked on a Catalogue  in volumes in alphabetical order and produced a subject Catalogue.

He had a room built in 1820 to host the De Rossi collection and had it furnished appropriately; between 1830 and 1834 he commissioned a new reading room, the 'Salone Maria Luigia' which was wide, full of light and big enough to host around 26.000 volumes; due to the Sovereign's interest in the figurative arts it was also possible for Francesco Scaramuzza to paint between 1841 and 1857 the frescoes inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy  in the so-called Librarian’s Chamber (now Sala Dante).

Pezzana's successor, Federico Odorici directed the Library between 1862 and 1876 during the first years of the united Italian State. His activity was focused mainly on satisfying the continuous  requests coming from the new government concerning the consistency of the Library. The latter was   deprived of the status of  National Library, albeit in a tiny State, to that of a library together with many others in Italian territory. Under Odorici, in 1865 the Palatine collection was acquired. This  consisted of a private collection of the Dukes of Bourbon Parma and comprised many precious manuscripts and rare printed books. Odorici composed the first history of the Library and ordered the manuscripts belonging to the Parmense collection. In so doing, he prepared the collection's Catalogue together with his main collaborator Luigi Barbieri.

Pietro Perrea, who was responsible for the Catalogue of  Hebrew manuscripts  apart from those once belonging to De Rossi, directed the Library between 1876 and 1888. He bequeathed the Library with a rich collection of manuscripts and printed books.

Under the direction of Luigi Rossi (1888-1893) manuscript and printed materials of musical interest were transferred in 1889 to the newly funded Musical Section of the Library.