The origins of the Physics Library
When Pietro Blaserna was appointed director of the Physics Institute in Rome, office which he held from 1873 to 1918, he inherited the antique collection of books , the Fondo Volpicelli (Volpicelli store), a patrimony of writings which is still available today. The stock of these former volumes drew its name from Paolo Volpicelli, an authoritative old professor of experimental physics at the University of Rome and a figure of transition in a period of change which was to usher in the new unitarian State of Italy. In 1881 the Physics Institute was transferred to via Panisperna and the library was located on the first floor of the new building, enriched with new material and adequately furnished thanks to the money Blaserna had been able to save from the construction of the building itself to which he had personally attended. Pietro Plaserna photo The inventory of the Library holdings compiled by Blaserna until 1890 witnesses the variety and richness of the physics material kept at the time. Among outstanding titles worth mentioning are:
Jahresbericht der Chemie (1870), Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Her. Poggendorff (since 1824), Comptes Rendus des Séances (since 1835, Volpicelli fund), Philosophical Magazine (since 1798), Annales de Chimie et de Physique (1789, Volpicelli fund), Berghaus phys. Atlas, Italian Journal of Chemistry (1871), Bibliotheque universelle (1819, background Volpicelli), Nuovo Cimento (1855, background Volpicelli), Nature: Journal of Science (since 1863), Nature, publisher Cappanera (since 1879), Annals of Mathematics, La lumiere éléctrique (since 1879), Revue scientifique (since 1863, Volpicelli fund), Repertorium für Technik physikalische, Her. Carl (from 1866), Fortschritte der Physik (1869), Journal für reine und angewandte Mathematik (since 1873), Journal des Physique, Chimie et Histoire Naturelle (1872), Astronomische Nachrichten (since 1873), Zeitschrift für InstrumentenKunden (from 1881), Meteorologische Zeitschrift (since 1884), Electrotechnische Zeitschrift (since 1880), Physical Review (since 1893). Among the new acquisitions of books and periodicals we are: M. Plank, Theorie der Wärmestrahlung, Ludwig Boltzmann Festschrift, 1904, O. Heaviside, Electromagnetic Theory, 1893, P. Appell, Traité de mecanique rationnelle; A. Cotton, H.Mouton, Les ultramicroscopes et les objets ultramicroscopiques, 1905 and the Journal de physique et le radium (from 1920). Among the books, often purchased in bundles then made binding: Lehrbuch der Physik, O. D. Chwolson; Thermodynamik and Theoretische Physik, M. Planck; The Theory of electrons, H. A. Lorentz and, some years later, the Théorie de l'élasticité des corps solides, A. Clebsch and the 'Handbuch der Elektrizität und des Magnetismus, Her. L. Graetz. Even the rare books belonging to Volpicelli bottom were numerous and to these were added other books purchased by the Coal Rome.

Under the direction of Orso Mario Corbino, from 1918 to 1937, the Physics library was transformed into a modern structure which represented an evidence of the evolution that the Physics Institute had been undergoing through the years and the prestige reached as a centre of excellence in Europe. In 1919 a large sum of money was allocated for buying books on history and theory of music and acoustics. old library - Panisperna streetIn 1922 numerous works on restricted and general relativity were added to the library collection along with writings on cosmology. The interest in restricted relativity represented a real innovation if we consider that the notable physicists and mathematicians of the time had neglected its study up to 1915 focusing on general relativity only. In the new generation of theoretical physicists in Italy only Enrico Fermi and Enrico Persico accepted the general relativity theory without reluctance and dedicated their first works to it between the years 1921 and 1923. The awakened interest encouraged Corbino to buy large quantities of publications on this topic, mainly by Einstein. In 1937 the Physics Institute was set in the present location. After the dark years of the war and during the years of the reconstruction, the library met a new phase of development thanks to the fervent activity of Edoardo Amaldi under whose leadership the Institute had been keeping an updated recording of all international events in Physics and of the main issues emerging from the Physicists community in Rome.

Maria Grazia Ianniello