Data Visualizations

Digital visualizations help us to better understand libraries as collections. They enable us to more accurately assess the intellectual frameworks and perspectives provided by their creators and available to their patrons. Patterns and trends that go undetected in text or spread-sheet format are easily observed when presented in visual forms such as bar graphs or maps. Data visualizations thus present opportunities for us to ask new questions of libraries, their creators and their readers.

The Library of Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1767, Ferrara -1834, Venice)

Ludovico Lipparini, Portrait of Count Leopoldo Cicognara (1825). Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.

Several data visualizations based on Count Leopoldo Cicognara’s Catalago Rationato dei Libri d’Arte e d’Antichità (Pisa: Niccolò Capurro, 1821) are offered here. The collection is significant for the light it sheds on the historiography of art and archaeology, and for the cultural history of Italy from the perspective of post-Napoleonic, Habsburg-ruled Venice.

Cicognara’s Catalago was the bibliography of a library he created to serve not only his own scholarship, but that of other students of art and its history. It also served as a sales catalogue. In 1824 he sold this collection to the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, where it survives intact under the name Fondo Cicognara.

For the purposes of data visualization, Cicognara’s  Catalago is challenging in several respects. While many catalog numbers refer to a single item, some refer to several copies of one work in various formats, editions or condition, and some refer to several works that have been grouped together thematically. These thematic groupings typically consist of ephemeral materials and individual prints, many of them unique.

Much research utilizing the resources of the Cicognara library focuses on its rare items rather than its significance as a collection. However, although the library has been catalogued, due to the complex nature of the collection, a complete and accurate record of each item has yet to be established. For the purposes of data visualization, therefore, catalogue numbers, not items, have been treated as the basic unit of measure.

The visualizations are intended to provide a helpful introductory overview for those new to the collection and as a resource for those contemplating specific aspects of the collection. Due to the absence of a complete and accurate record of each item in the collection, researchers are advised to turn from the visualizations to the Catalago itself for confirmation of any findings.