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Bobbio  

Michael Richter

Monastery in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Approximately 50 km south of Piacenza in the Apennines, it was founded c. ad 613 through the cooperation of the Lombard king Agilulf (reg 590–615) and the Irish abbot and saint Columbanus (c. 540–615). Its nucleus was an older dilapidated church dedicated to St Peter. Columbanus died on 23 November 615, but his name and renown remained alive in the following centuries. Through cooperation with the Lombard monarchs as well as later the Carolingian kings, Bobbio became a very prominent monastery in Northern Italy. In 628 it was granted the earliest monastic exemption from supervision by the local diocesan, the bishop of Tortona. The community of Bobbio apparently lived according to the Rule of Columbanus as well as the Rule of Basil of Caesarea. The presence of the Rule of St Benedict cannot be documented there before the early 9th century. Bobbio became a known not only as a centre of Irish learning but also as a centre of grammatical as well as computational studies. Its early library also contained Classical texts as well as important palimpsests (a ‘catalogue’ survives from the late 9th century). In the late 9th and early 10th centuries (a period of economic decline) important illuminated manuscripts were produced there. The abbatial church was rebuilt under Abbot Agilulf (...

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Gordon Campbell

Article

Library  

Virginia M. Kerr, Colum Hourihane, and Godfrey Thompson

Building for storage of and access to texts. Over time the format of texts has changed, from papyrus rolls and cuneiform tablets, to codices, to printed books, to microforms, and the technology of storage and the notion of ‘access’ have also changed significantly. Library buildings in turn have evolved.

Libraries have often hosted other activities, including lectures and the display of art and artefacts. These roles extend back to the Hellenistic period (323–31 bc), were revived in the Renaissance and Baroque libraries of Europe, and have found new emphasis in the 20th century.

Libraries also have performed important symbolic roles: they preserve knowledge, inspire scholars, and measure cultural achievement for institutions or entire nations; they also provide an opportunity for enlightened patronage. These symbolic functions have been expressed in various furnishings: for example, gates and chains protect medieval bookcases; allegorical motifs or emblems serve to glorify the arts and sciences; authors’ portraits may inspire readers; and donors’ portraits immortalize their dedication to literature....