Officially established in 1947, the Slovene National and Study Library in Trieste (NŠK) is the main public library of the Slovene community in Italy. It offers a rich collection of books and periodicals in Slovenian language, fosters reading culture, and works on the preservation of the cultural and scientific heritage of Slovenians in Italy.
Today, the institution comprises three additional departments: the Young Readers Department and the History and Ethnography Department, both based in Trieste, and the Damir Feigel Slovene Library (established in 1989, based in nearby Gorizia).
The vibrant history of Slovene and Slavic cultural activity in Trieste dates back to the pre-war period of the 19th Century. The first Slavic National Reading Room in Trieste was established in 1861, other cultural institutions and societies in the city and its surrounding areas followed soon after: the Slovene Permanent Theatre in Trieste was established in 1902, for example. The development of libraries and workers’ organisations was hindered by World War I. Sociocultural life in Trieste was again devastated in 1920, when Fascist commandos burnt down the National House, the community hall of the Slovenes living in the city.
In 1973, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia conferred on the library the right to receive a deposit copy of every publication printed in Slovenia. Between 1991 and 2000 the institution was funded by Italian State subsidies. Since 2001, however, it has been financed by the Slovene community in Italy.
Collection and premises
The library’s collection consists of more than 145.000 book and non-book items and over 500 titles of Slovene periodicals. The purchase priority is books in the field of Slovene literature and humanities, also literature on law and economics. Since 1998, the library has been part of the COBISS – Slovene Virtual Library database.
The premises house two reading rooms: one named after Slovene writer Fran Levstik, providing ready reference literature, the latest in Slovene and Italian periodical press, and also featuring a children’s corner as well as computers for visitors; the other reading room bears the name of Primož Trubar, and is equipped with 24 units for individual study.
Occasionally, the library serves as an exhibition venue for art and literature presentations.