The 20th century — The bombing and the reconstruction


Under Edoardo Alvisi's direction (1893-1915) the contents belonging to Paciaudi's card catalogue were copied into a series of large volumes together with data concerning new acquistions and donations; subject catalogues were prepared; the Major of Parma, Giovanni Mariotti wishing to free Piazzale della Pace (the square in front of the Pilotta) from unsightly buildings had demolished the part which hosted the De Rossi collection which Pezzana had built next to the Galleria dell'Incornata. Mariotti had a room built in another section of the Pilotta, communicating with the Salone Maria Luigia. The new room was identical to the previous one so all the old furnishings could be reused.

His successors Carlo Frati (1915-1918), Girolamo Dell'Acqua (1918-1922) and Antonio Maria Boselli (1922-1927) all had to fight against the financial problems caused by the first World War: Boselli for example was forced to interrupt the Library's subscription  to many prestigious Italian and foreign journals.

During the 20th century the Library was also deprived of parts of its collections: in the Twenty's documents were consigned to the State Archives in Parma; in 1934 the director Pietro Zorzanello was forced to 'give back' to the State Library in Lucca more than one hundred manuscripts concerning the history of the town belonging to the Palatine collection. This loss was only partially compensated the following year by the acquisition of Mansueto Tarchioni's library. The latter consisted of around 18.000 volumes and 1.000 booklets. When he was transferred for not complying with Fascist orders, Zorzanello left to the Library his card catalogue of incunabula.

He was followed by Giovanni Masi (1935-1952) who faced with great courage and determination  the rebuilding of the Library after the English air raid which destroyed part of the Pilotta between April and May 1944. Around 21.000 volumes of the Library were lost amongst the ruins. Nevertheless in 1950 he managed to increase the Library's collections by acquiring the books of Mario Ferrarini.

Maria Teresa Daniela Polidori (1952-1957) inaugurated the restored Galleria Petitot.

The bibliophile Angelo Ciavarella directed the Library up until 1973. He involved both authorities and institutions of the city of Parma in the problems of the Library and in the necessity of creating a museum in order to valorise the figure and production of Bodoni. Thus in 1960 he founded the Bodoni Museum and in 1964 the Library acquired the Micheli – Mariotti collection.

After brief directorships of Diego Maltese (1973), Serenella Baldelli Cherubini (1973-1978), Carla Guiducci Bonanni (1979) and a number of regencies, the Library was directed by Leonardo Farinelli (1991-2007). For many years the Library had been closed due to necessary refurbishment works (1983-1991), so Farinelli tried in every way to reintroduce the Library in the cultural context of the town: he introduced IT in the Library services and promoted all sorts of activities with local schools; he acquired the libraries belonging to ???? Bertani, Angelo Ciavarella, the Salvadori - Bovi family, the archives of the members of Parliament Carlo Buzzi and Andrea Borri, as well as the journalist Baldassarre Molossi. In 1994 the Oriental collections were augmented with the purchase of  the corpus of  Ethiopian manuscripts belonging to Antonio Mordini and successively of 19 other Ethiopian codices.