European Library of Information and Culture


August 19, 2022

The European Library of Information and Culture - better known as the European Library of Milan, or BEIC - is a multimedia digital library.


The project for the construction of a new large modern library for the city of Milan - on the model of those established at the turn of the second millennium in Paris, Munich, San Francisco and elsewhere - was born in the late nineties of the twentieth century on the initiative of the association "Milano Biblioteca del 2000". With the allocation of the Cariplo Foundation and other institutions, the feasibility study was drawn up, relating to the architectural and library configuration. Lombardy Region, the University of Studies and the Polytechnic of Milan. The project envisages the creation of "a large public library, capable of satisfying the needs of information, dissemination and interdisciplinary culture of a metropolitan area of ​​over 7 million citizens, and which is also proposed as a meeting and socialization place" The BEIC Foundation - owned by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the Ministry of Education, University and Research, the Municipality of Milan, the Lombardy Region, the Polytechnic and the University of Milan - was launched in 2004 with the fine-tuning of the architectural project and giving life to a large new digital library. The Foundation was chaired by Antonio Padoa-Schioppa, promoter of the BEIC Project, from 2003 to 2017; since March 2017 it has been chaired by Francesco Paolo Tronca, former prefect of Milan and commissioner of the Municipality of Rome; vice president prof. Padoa-Schioppa. In the project, the headquarters of the new library is located in the area of ​​the former Porta Vittoria railway station, made available by the Municipality of Milan which has included it in its own Town Plan (2001 and 2007). The Bolles + Wilson studio, winner of the international design competition launched by the Municipality of Milan, prepared the final architectural project and the executive project validated by the Politecnico di Milano and approved by the Public Works Council in March 2009. The estimated cost for the works, furnishings and safety costs amounted to 152 million euros. The characteristics of the architectural plan and the digital library of the BEIC were described in the volume The European Library of Milan, published by Skira in 2014. Pending the requested funding from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the project suffered a setback. In 2012 an alternative hypothesis was formulated, such as to possibly reduce the surfaces and consequently the construction costs. On December 30, 2021, an agreement was signed to regulate relations between the Ministry of Culture, the Municipality of Milan and the BEIC Foundation regarding the implementation of the "European Library of Information and Culture - BEIC intervention" within the PNRR. In March 2022 a new competition was launched, of which Onsitestudio was proclaimed the winner in July: it foresees the construction and completion of the "New BEIC" for 2026. The Beic Foundation has acquired and cataloged the library and archive of Giuseppe Pontiggia as well as the Paolo Monti photographic archive, deposited in the Civic photographic archive of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.


The digital library (BeicDL) was inaugurated on November 30, 2012 and includes, in December 2016, 32,232 digital documents, 90,756 bibliographic records, 4,200 authors, 912 websites. The accessible digital heritage is divided into twenty collections and can be consulted from the online catalog. The collections include: incunabula in Italian, classics of law in ancient manuscripts and editions, acts of academies, hydraulic library, librarians