This inventory drawn up by L. Parmenio clearly shows the cataloging method used in the early years of the library. Books were grouped by subject on "banchi," or benches, to which they were chained. Unlike modern card files, such inventories were difficult to add to since new books could be listed only at the end of each section, not in order.
Vat. lat. 3955 fols. 1 verso-2 recto vlib14 INT.21
For some time the Vatican let its library books circulate. Borrowers entered their names and the titles of the books they took out in registers like this one, and the librarian crossed out the entry when the books came back. The borrower had to take the chain as well as the book, no doubt to remind him the book was not his. In this case, the brilliant philosopher Pico della Mirandola takes out--and returns--the works of Roger Bacon.
Vat. lat. 3966 fol. 43 recto. vlib15 INT.22
At each "banco," lists like this guided the reader to the exact item he needed.
Reg. lat. 1899 fol. 29 recto vlib16 INT.23
Even saints had to return their library books.
Vat. lat. 6379 fol. 44 recto vlib17 INT.24
This index, a very extensive one, was used in the library until 1620--powerful evidence for the continuity of the basic procedures developed in the fifteenth century. But as the Counter-Reformation took hold, censorship began to affect the library as well as outside publishers. Some of the pages of this index record books--such as Lorenzo Valla's attack on the Donation of Constantine--being removed after they were listed on the "Index of Forbidden Books."
Vat. lat. 3967 fol. 49 verso vlib18 INT.25
Lorenzo Valla translated the Greek historian Thucydides for Nicholas V. His final note, shown here, attests that this copy was deposited in the Vatican in 1452 to serve as a master against which all others could be corrected. Already, in the middle of the fifteenth century, the library was conceived of as a public collection of scholarly books. Both Lorenzo Valla and the scribe, Iohannes Lamperti de Rodenberg, signed this splendid copy. The margins of the text contain numerous corrections and explanatory notes by Valla.
Vat. lat. 1801 fol. 184 recto vlib19 INT.100
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