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Campus Bio-Medico University Library


Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, Italy


The Campus Bio-Medico University (UCBM) Library is an academic medical library in Rome, Italy that provides services to the university’s students, researchers, faculty members, and medical staff. The library houses more than 25,000 volumes covering the many and varied aspects of medicine and healthcare, but the collection also includes a broad range of other disciplines. In addition, the library maintains a historical medical book collection for users who are interested in the history of medicine. This collection contains books with the historical value printed between the late sixteenth- and the mid-twentieth centuries. Moreover, the library holds a collection of titles related to the history of hospitals and health institutions of the world. In so doing, the library has built a significant resource for research in the field of medical history, bringing value to the university.

Keywords: Campus Bio-Medico University Library, medical library materials, special collections, Dewey Decimal Classification


  • Location, Facilities, Website, Working Hours, and Images
  • Library Scope and History
  • Purposes of the Historical Collection
  • Rare Book and Special Collections
  • Classification System Adopted
  • Subject Cataloging System Used
  • Library Software Used
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • See Also



The UCBM Library is located in Trigoria (Rome), near Eur area of Rome, within the Decima Malafede Natural Reserve, outside the GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare). 

UCBM Library 21 Via Álvaro del Portillo, 00128 Rome


The library is on the ground floor of the “Trapezio” building at the university complex. The main collection is decentralized into various locations in the Biomedical and Bioengineering Advanced Research (PRABB) building. The historical collection is stored in closed stacks at the Club House, the university’s boardroom for business meetings and social events. As many of the historical books remain in a fragile condition and many are rare and valuable, this location offers an adequate storage environment in terms of humidity and temperature, with appropriate levels of security.


Working Hours
  • Working hours: Mondays to Fridays from 8.30am to 9.00pm and Saturdays from 8.30am to 2.00pm.



"Trapezio" building of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome
(Image credit: Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, all rights reserved)


Library of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome
(Image credit: Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, all rights reserved)


The Reading Room Library (1)
(Courtesy of Simona Rossi, all rights reserved)


The Reading Room Library (2)
(Courtesy of Simona Rossi, all rights reserved)


The library's mission is to provide resources and services in support of the research, teaching, and learning needs of the university.  To fulfill this mission, the library is committed to ensuring access to authoritative and current information through the acquisition, organization, and management of print and e-resources collections. In this regard, the influence of open access has an important impact on the way the library operates. Specifically, the library offers bibliographic assistance to faculty, students, and medical staff coordinates the document delivery services and offers concrete support to research activities by assisting single users, departments, and research units in the recovery of bibliometrics indicators as well as the citation index data from authoritative sources. In addition, the library offers a storage and consultation service of the doctoral dissertations repository. 

The library was formed in 1993 with the establishment of the university. At that time, it consisted of a few shelves of books. At present, it contains over 25,000 cataloged volumes and more than 4,000 periodicals in digital format. The general book collection contains core textbook and specialty titles and supports all aspects of medicine and healthcare, but it also covers disciplines related to medical history, bioethics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and engineering. 

The library also supports researchers who are interested in the history of medicine and health by collecting and preserving rare books collections. This non-circulating collection contains more than 3,500 titles. Additionally, the library holds special collections that focus on specific subjects (see “Special Collections”).


The library’s historical collection consists of the main collection of older print books dating from the early 1800s to 1945, and a modest collection of sixteenth-, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century imprints. These collections cover a wide range of topics from plant-based medicine to the works of Sir William Osler, the father of modern medicine. The purpose of the historical book collection is to:
  • Collect, arrange, and preserve monographs, periodicals, and other materials that are relevant to the history of medicine and health sciences;
  • Provide access to historical resources for educational, research, and scholarly purposes;
  • Contribute to the understanding of the historical and cultural context of medicine as well as the developments in medical techniques and practices.


Rare Books Collections

Over the years, the historical collection has been enriched by donations of rare books and personal libraries. These collections have taken the name of their former owners. The most remarkable is the Leonardo Donatelli collection, with over 700 volumes from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century.  This collection holds several early editions of medical works, especially on pharmacology, surgery, and anatomy, including a rare 1677 edition of Thomas Bartholin’s textbook Anatomia Bartholiniana. Particularly relevant are imprints on botany and herbal medicine, such as the early seventeenth-century edition of Castore Durante’s Herbario Nuovo.  

Another important collection is that bequeathed by Professor Gioan Battista Dell’Acqua (1901–1991), containing around 250 titles of old and rare medical books, and several extracts. This personal library is very interesting as it captures the developments of the medical publishing industry in Europe during the early decades of the twentieth century, thanks to the presence of several textbooks printed by the most notable publishers of that period, such as Springer-Verlag, Urban & Schwarzenberg, and Victor Masson. Books in German, French and English are well represented in this collection. 

The library has also been enriched by the collection of Professor Augusto Arullani, who was among the founders of the university, and his wife Maria Arullani. This collection consists of more than 650 books – mostly literary and historical works – that range in date from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Special Collections 

To support historical research, the UCBM Library also collects books and pamphlets related to the history of hospitals and health institutions in the world, and, more generally, to the material culture of the history of medicine. The purpose is to build a resource for scholars and researchers interested in the medical history of a certain geographical area. All these titles are treated as a special collection and housed in a separate range. This collection is linked to the Himetop project, a free access database promoted by the university, which collects photographic and bibliographic documentation about historical landmarks of the medical culture.  

Through the years, the library had built up a sizeable collection of biographical resources of people who have contributed to the advancement of medicine and science. A separate shelving location is devoted to this special collection, which includes over 1,200 titles. Many of these titles are in English. There are also holdings in other languages including French, Spanish, German, and Portuguese. 

Senator Paola Binetti, who did pioneering work on Italian tutoring, accelerated the development of the library when she was Academic Services Manager at the university, focusing on issues of tutoring and psychology. Recently, in 2020, she donated her personal library of 1,500 monographs, covering a broad range of topics related to pedagogy, education, psychology, bioethics, philosophy, medical humanities, and religion (but there are also titles on clinical methodology, management of health professions, history of medicine, social and political issues). 


Like most libraries in the world, the UCBM Library has adopted the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system to classify its collections. 

One of the advantages of this universal classification is given by its mnemonic notation which helps staff and library patrons to memorize and recognize class numbers. 

Dewey assigned to medicine the subdivisions 610-619, as shown below:
610 Medicine & health
611 Human anatomy, cytology & histology
612 Human physiology
613 Personal health & safety
614 Incidence & prevention of disease
615 Pharmacology & therapeutics
616 Diseases
617 Surgery & related medical specialties
618 Gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics & geriatrics

The DDC as used in the UCBM Library has been simplified, according to the library’s needs. In general, the library tends to use only the larger subdivision of the DDC. Usually, decimal numbers are not more than five digits in length, and in many instances one class number was adopted for a subject with many ramifications. By doing so, new subjects can be accommodated by adding to the existing list. For instance, in 616.8, the number given to diseases of nervous system and mental disorders, are classed all books on neuropsychiatry, mental disorders, epilepsy, neurosurgery, cerebrovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis as well as general books on neuropathology. Another example is given by the number 616.12, which takes care of everything on heart disease, vascular diseases, and electrocardiography. All material on diseases of endocrine, hematopoietic, and lymphatic systems, including preventive measures and therapy in endocrinology, is classed in 616.4, though works on diabetes mellitus are classified separately, in 616.462. Also, one number is used for each of the following subjects: gynecology (618.1), obstetrics (618.2), and pediatrics (618.92). 

Library’s special biography collection is treated differently. The library keeps all these titles under one class number (920), and books are arranged alphabetically according to the subject’s last name. Instead, books of the “Himetop” collection are classified according to the DDC geographic area table (Table 2), which allows a subdivision by region or site. 

Through this use of the DDC system, the library is able to offer an efficient and strong service to identify and retrieve appropriate documents that satisfies the information needs of its patrons. Moreover, such adjustment of the DDC scheme facilitates the cataloging process. Librarians have elaborated various classification schemes for the arrangement of their medical information sources, and many specialist medical and health libraries in the world have adopted the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Classification system.  The UCBM Library experience demonstrates that a general classification system such as the DDC system could be profitably employed also in a highly specialized collection in the field of medicine and related sciences. 


In the area of subject cataloging, the UCBM Library uses the Nuovo Soggettario, the main subject indexing tool for Italian libraries. The Nuovo Soggettario is edited by the National Central Library of Florence (BNCF) in collaboration with the Italian National Bibliography (BNI), in compliance with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) recommendations and other international standards in the field of subject indexing. It was published in 2006, fifty years after the publication of the first edition of the Soggettario (Soggettario per i cataloghi delle biblioteche italiane, 1956), which was inspired by the conceptual and structural model of the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). The Nuovo Soggettario consists of a semantic and syntactical apparatus and it represents a system to be applied in both pre-coordinated (the terms are combined in subject strings) and post-coordinated forms (the terms are used as key words). The central component of the system is a universal Thesaurus, available on the BNCF website and continually enriched and updated. 

For the vocabulary control, a variety of general and specialized sources is used, consisting of glossaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, manuals, and handbooks, as well as other tools such as thesauri, classification schemes, and subject headings lists. For example, terms of the medical field are drawn from various types of sources, including field-specific glossaries and encyclopedias (e.g., the Italian edition of Dorland’s Medical Dictionary), standard textbooks, medical and health-related publications, term lists (e.g., the Health Topics of the World Health Organization – WHO) and the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) vocabulary, created by the NLM.  

According to the Nuovo Soggettario’s rules, the main heading of the subject term structure is the key concept that identifies the work’s subject matter, followed by one or more terms. As a result, the key concept is enriched and circumscribed by space and time, defining precisely the complete intellectual content of the resource. For example, a work about the history of cholera in Italy in the nineteenth century would be assigned the following subject strings: Colera – Italia – Sec. 19.


The UCBM Library uses the SebinaNEXT software, a cloud-based library management system, developed to take control of the daily activities of the library (document circulation, acquisition, management of periodicals, cataloging, reporting, user records, etc.). All information resources are available in a single integrated catalog, with a user-friendly interface and usability. The software complies with international standards and in Italy it is widely used by libraries of the National Library Service (SBN) as well as academic libraries, special libraries, and archives. 


I would like to thank Maria Dora Morgante and Simona Rossi from the University Campus Bio-Medico Library for their useful contributions to the article.  


1.  Campus Bio-Medico University Library, (accessed January 21, 2021). 

2.  Paolo Preziosi and Paolo Paolucci, "Figure di maestri: il professor Leonardo Donatelli e la sua biblioteca. Un’esperienza di catalogazione di una raccolta storica", MEDIC 16, no. 2 (2018): 87–90.

3.  Himetop Project, (accessed January 21, 2021).

4.  National Library of Medicine, "Outline of the NLM Classification", (accessed January 21, 2021). 

5. Nuovo Soggettario’s Thesaurus, (accessed January 28, 2021)