Since 2000, the ICCD library has been radically transformed, with the creation of two different sections. The first, primarily reserved for internal consultation, holds some ten thousand monographs on historic, artistic and archaeological topics, the result of the Superintendent's editorial activity. The second, annexed to the Archive Museum of photographic history, is a unique Roman collection specialising in the history of photography and contains around three thousand monographs and numerous and rare periodicals on photography dating back to the early 1900s. This is partly from the library from the National Photographic Laboratory and partly the "Piero Becchetti" collection, acquired by the ICCD in 1995.
The library therefore, holds a variety of material, which can be put in to three groups: art, cataloguing and photography. This reflects the particular history of the Institute itself, which was formed in 1975 by the union of two different institutions: the National Photographic Laboratory and the Central Institute of Cataloguing.
The National Photographic Laboratory was created at the beginning of the twentieth century, on the initiative of Engineer Giovanni Gargiolli, a pioneer in the valorisation of photographic documents. By 1892, he had already started a photographic archive with the aim of gathering and systematically archiving photographs, equipment and anything else besides which could enhance the historical testimony of the emergent technique of photography.
Engineer Giovanni Gargiolli understood from the start the importance of endowing the right institution with a specialist library, which served to hold and conserve all that was written at the time about photography, both in Italy and abroad. On the death of the Founder, the Institute passed to the dependence of the Ministry for Public Instruction, until in 1969 when the Central Institute for Cataloguing was created with the aim of studying and developing new criteria and new methodologies for the cataloguing of art historical cultural heritage.
With the creation of the ICCD, consequently with the establishment of the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage, the bibliographic heritage of the two institutions was united in one single organization. This was conceived in the beginning as an internal facility, destined for the work and research of staff. Only later following the Archive Museum of Historical Photography, within the ICCD, was it decided to valorise the library of photographic heritage and to place it at the disposal of a much wider public. Recently, the library has been included as part of the National Librarian Service.