Antonio Panizzi (1797-1879)

From: Stefano Gambari & Mauro Guerrini (2018) ‘Terrible Panizzi’: Patriotism and Realism of the ‘Prince of Librarians’, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly:


This article deals with the figure of Antonio Panizzi, considered as an Italian patriot and English librarian. It highlights the constant attention he devoted to the Italian political events throughout his life: from his arrival in London (1823) as a political exile, to his informal ambassador in United Kingdom, a role that allowed him to lobby the political class and the press on behalf of the cause of Italian patriots forced in the prisons of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The article describes the multifaceted library activity carried out by Panizzi at the British Library, of which he became Principal Librarian in 1856. Panizzi is considered to be the first Promethean Librarian of the 19th century, a great reformer with new ideas on library services, innovative methodologies, and working practices in librarianship. Panizzi rigorously carried out the activity of librarian at the British Library without ever forgetting the need for a free, unified, and democratic Italian state.”

From: Jeremy Norman’s

“In 1841 Antonio Panizzi, Keeper of the Department of Printed Books at the British Museum (now the British Library), issued 91 Rules for Compilation of the Catalogue. These rules represented the first rigorous and thorough attempt to standardize cataloguing of printed books. In the promulgation of these rules Panizzi was assisted by four coadjutors: Edward Edwards, John Humffreys Parry, John Winter Jones, and Thomas Watts. The rules appeared in the Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum, Volume 1, pp. v-ix, published in 1841. Remarkably only this single volume, covering the letter A, was published under Panizzi’s direction. Though Panizzi supervised compilation of the full catalogue of the British Museum library in manuscript, the full catalogue did not begin to appear in print until 1881, two years after Panizzi’s death. 

Along with publication of his 91 Rules, Panizzi had his new discipline of cataloguing applied in the first volume, which consisted of 457 two-column pages in small folio…”

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