Libraries were the basis of the civilized world as homes to history and culture. It is in books that we see ourselves and recognize ourselves. There have been many famous libraries over the millennia - Assurbanipal in Nineveh, Rhodes, Pergamus, Damascus, the libraries of Trajan, Cosimo, and Cassiodoro, Al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), the Persian court, the Vatican. There was the National Library in Buenos Aires where Jorge Luis Borges was on the staff and wrote his masterpiece of modern literature on the Library of Babel. Not to forget Alexandria, the most famous library of Antiquity, where fire consigned much history and previous knowledge to obscurity and darkness.
FAAP's library is one of the most important sections of the Institution. The study center draws thousands of students from every course, every week. It was founded in August 1959, with 464 works, mostly donations from Countess Annie Alvares Penteado and the Fine Arts School student organization. At the time, most readers were students on the Arts or Ballet courses, or at the Conservatory. In 1967, the new School of Engineering prompted the library to extend its interests and the collection grew to 2,078 books. Growth thereafter was constant, with purchases and donations (mainly from alumni currently in leading positions in the private or public sector in Brazil).
The premises occupy over 1,000 square meters, with 202 comfortable places for studying and reading and free access to the shelves. There are over 120,000 documents in all - books, newspapers, catalogs and pamphlets, theses, final-year monographs, videos, cds, dvds, diskettes, plans, maps, and slides. Fields covered include business administration, architecture, visual arts, communication, law, economics, engineering, hospitality and catering, fashion, international relations, and information technology. Its film collection is one of the largest in Brazil. All stocks are constantly updated and references are digitized.
Some of the highlights - 374 volumes of Coleção Brasiliana, from 1934 to 1982; I manoscritti e i disegni di Leonardo da Vinci, 1946 edition; Portinari's drawings of Don Quixote, with poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade; Galisset's Corpus juris civilis, 1856 edition; Cesare Cantù's Universal History, 1879 edition; Le costume historique, 1882; a collection of Journal du Droit International Privé, from the first issue to 1904; Revista dos Tribunais, from the first issue in 1912; the magazine Leitura Para Todos, 1905-1930; Revista do Archivo Judiciário, 1927-1952; Revista Acrópole, from the first issue in 1938 to 1971.
There is access to two international databases for business and related subjects (Ebsco) and law (Westlaw), with links to over 3,600 periodicals. A library exchange program (Comut) furnishes copies of documents not held in the library.
Convenient technology features include an air conditioning system, fourteen search terminals, sixteen data input terminals, four loan terminals, and three for accessing Internet and multimedia sources, a slide reader, and tv, video, and dvd players. Unesco's Winisis system ensured advances and new concepts in services such as local and on-line consultations, loans, reservations, national acquisitions, and interlibrary exchanges. The security system has closed-circuit tv and gates with magnetic screening. As well as the unit on the Higienópolis campus, there is a library at the São Vicente de Paulo Center of Excellence, one at the postgraduation unit in São José dos Campos, and one in Ribeirão Preto.
The library is constantly part of FAAP's social campaigns such as donating food and warm clothing or giving blood. It has recently been involved in a campaign to provide eight libraries for small towns in the state of São Paulo. FAAP's 'Thirst for Knowledge' project took care of the work of collecting, selecting, and organizing donated material to start their collections. It also trained people to run the new libraries in these towns that had been lacking in these facilities