The author illustrates the progressive marginalization of public libraries, primarily state ones, with respect to the other components of the national cultural heritage. This process, started between the 1960s and 1970s, was aggravated in the following decades by the growing differentiations between specialised sectors of cultural policies, fuelling conflicts for the distribution and allocation of financial and human resources. Cass. Especially in the last decade, marked by a sharp decline in public spending, this has resulted in a remarkable deterioration of standards in the functioning of libraries and archives, and the consequences are felt today throughout the services needed for higher education and research. Cass. The critical situation in which state libraries currently find themselves is clearly shown by statistical evidence.
The author proposes different solutions for the different types of libraries examined. As for non-state libraries, he claims greater national coordination in order to overcome artificial regional subdivisions. For state libraries, he envisages the transfer of responsibilities, together with the archives, from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to the newly created Ministry of University and Research, considering their function more in keeping with the latter’s mission.
Keywords: state libraries, non-state libraries, cultural heritage, library services, research, ministry for cultural heritage and activities and tourism, ministry of universities and research.