The Accessions Section deals with many types of materials: rare books, modern books, periodicals, electronic resources and, to a lesser degree, other non-book materials.
The main task of the Section is to deal with the administrative aspects of the integration of publications into the Library’s collections. The regular activities of the Section focus mainly on acquisitions, but also on dealing with material which arrives through donations or exchange schemes. The Section has had an autonomous existence for less than a century. An “Assistant for Accessions” is explicitly mentioned for the first time in the Annuario Pontificio of 1931, under Pope Pius XI, while the first mention of an “Accessions Service” occurs in 1935. Previously the operations regarding acquisitions were dealt with directly by the Head Librarian or by one of his Assistants.
The Service currently employs five staff members, including the Head of the Section. Each member has a specific task, allowing the work to proceed in the most efficient manner possible.
The staff of the Section manages the centralized treatment of the administrative accession process (formalization of orders, authorization of payment, registration of the suppliers’ details and receipt of arriving volumes) within the integrated computer system of the Library; records the arrival of issues of periodicals to which the Library subscribes; keeps up-to-date information about recent publications and forwards them to the professional staff so that its members can make acquisition proposals. For this purpose, the Section maintains direct contacts with the main cultural and publishing institutions in Italy and in other countries.
A further regular activity which has been recently reactivated after a hiatus of several years is that which concerns exchanges of publications. Interested institutions may contact the Accessions Section directly in order to receive the Catalogue of Publications of the Vatican Library, together with detailed information about the necessary procedures for activation of an exchange scheme.
The section receives the desiderata and suggestions made by readers (a web-based form may be used for this purpose) to enlarge and improve the collections of the Library. As stated in the Rules and Regulations, the Library’s collections are dedicated exclusively to scientific research work based on the study of the manuscripts, printed books, coins, medals, and prints and other graphic materials in its possession. The Library’s collection of printed books, which is primarily oriented towards the philological and historical disciplines (with a retrospective interest also in theology, law and science), is intended to offer research tools in these disciplines, rather than popular works.
The Section also receives publications which are sent as gifts to the Library; however, it reserves the right to evaluate the pertinence of these donations. All donations are examined by a special Commission.
For more information about the Library’s policy regarding donations, please see the Notice for donors.
Offers of especially rare or precious books for sale by private individuals may be made directly to the Accessions Section, together with a suggested appraisal and a description, as complete as possible, of the documents and of their state of preservation.
Announcements of recent publications are accepted by the Section only if they come from publishing houses or commissioned booksellers.