Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach Library inaugurated by Fr. General

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library 

Father General Arturo Sosa has named the library of the Society at the General Curia in Rome, the "Peter-Hans Kolvenbach Library". This becomes the first Jesuit institution named after the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. Father Kolvenbach (30/11/1928-26/11/2016) was an avid user of the library throughout his stay at the General Curia. The renamed library was inaugurated on 24 November 2017.

The General Curia has a great treasure with regard to the wealth of books it has been collecting, over the years, in two large libraries. The first is the so-called "Father General's Library" composed of books written by the Jesuits around the world on a variety of subjects. Practica Quaedam (handbook of the Society) asks the Socii to be attentive to the publications in the respective Provinces and to send to Father General, two copies of books written by Ours. One of these copies is passed to "Father General's Library", while the second copy is intended for the second library; the "Historical Library" that, formerly, was the Library of the House of Writers. This library contains books written by Jesuits and non-Jesuits, which have to do with any aspect that refers to the Society of Jesus, whether about its members, apostolic works, their history or their spirituality.

From its inception, the Historical Library was under the responsibility of the Director of the Historical Archives. However, in 2015, Father Adolfo Nicolás, then Superior General of the Society, wanted the two libraries to be integrated under the direction of a single Director. From then on, the staff of the two libraries embarked on the project of unifying the two libraries. The process involved various activities. First, the space where Father General's Library was operating from needed to be modernised. Fifty years had passed without good maintenance works being done on the walls, humidity levels, lighting, etc. In response to the governmental requirements for buildings safety, this work was incorporated in the remodelling that was taking place in the entire General Curia. These works were completed by the beginning of October 2017 and by the end of the same month, the books that had been kept for 6 months in a warehouse on the outskirts of Rome were returned to their shelves.

Secondly, a selection of duplicate books, as well as of books that did not match the purpose of the library, was made. These were exhibited and made available during General Congregation 36. A significant number of books that were requested by provincials during GC 36 for their province libraries have since been shipped. This has freed up more space in the library, allowing for a reorganization in the placement of books and magazines that are part of our bibliographic wealth.

Thirdly, the integration of the cataloguing of the books of the two libraries under the CEI-BIB, a system of the Italian Episcopal Conference, has continued with greater intensity, allowing us to network with multiple libraries in Rome and of Italy in general. For this work, we have hired extra staff, thanks to the help obtained from the same CEI and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of the Italian Government.

Finally, in addition to acquiring modern shelving for the magazine section, a reading room has been created for researchers. Father General Arturo Sosa has enthusiastically accepted and supported the idea of opening the library to the general public.