Census of manuscripts and their bibliography: MANUS and BibMan

Within the initiatives of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism concerning the inventorying, cataloguing and enhancing  of the manuscript heritage, the Institute coordinates and manages the National Census of Manuscripts held in Italian Libraries, and the relating bibliography. Over 300 state, local, ecclesiastical and private libraries, but also some ecclesiastical archives, are participating in the project, thus contributing to its success by closely working with the Institute.

The Census project and its realization have make it possible to build up an accessible online database (Manus OnLine), both for cataloguing and online querying activities. The Libraries, Collections and Shelf Marks archive is combined with  other archives containing authority headings and images, aimed at enriching the manuscript descriptions.
The cataloguing choices reflect the rules edited in the Guida a una descrizione uniforme dei manoscritti e al loro censimento (Rome, ICCU, 1990) and all decisions taken in accordance with the Inventories and Catalogues Board, established by the General Directorate for Libraries and Cultural Institutes.

Manus OnLine is a database containing the descriptions and digitized images of manuscripts held in Italian public, private and ecclesiastical libraries.
The manuscripts census aims to identify and catalogue the manuscripts in Latin Alphabet produced between the Middle Ages and the present times, even if the backoffice devoted to cataloguers shall offer a virtual keyboard allowing descriptions of manuscripts in different scripts and alphabets within a short time. The catalographic standard allows various description levels, from  few second-hand description elements to exhaustive, first-hand descriptions, following the rules set out in the publication Guida a una descrizione uniforme dei manoscritti e al loro censimento, edited by V. Jemolo and M. Morelli (Rome, ICCU, 1990).

At present, more than 300 institutions are participating in Manus OnLine, but everyone, including scholars, may propose changes concerning the descriptive data via the Forum, that provides a platform for the constant exchange of ideas and suggestions between libraries and ICCU.
The database is constantly being increased online by the institutions carrying out online cataloguing.
The database is available at the following links:


Internet culturale

  • BibMan

BibMan makes possible the online queries of the Bibliography of manuscripts in Latin alphabet held by Italian libraries.

The bibliography available is the current one (from 1990) and is the outcome of the examination of 8,090 monographs (M), polygraphies (G) and serials (P), carried out by the librarians of the project partners. The time frame is quite large: from the 5th century Virgilio Mediceo held in the Laurenziana Library (FI 100 Plut.39.1) to a series of letters written by Vincenzo Cardarelli and acquired in 1998 by the Research Centre on the Manuscript Tradition of Modern and Contemporary Authors (PV 293 Fondo Cardarelli).