The Library was established in 1937, the founding year of the Istituto nazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, first known as the Centro nazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, and is headquartered today as then in the prestigious Palazzo Strozzi. The Library's primary focus is on classical and Renaissance civilization, supporting all relevant fields of study: literature, philosophy, history, and art history. Important sections of the Library are: earliest holdings, divided into sections on the arts, literature, history, topography and voyages; minor arts, focusing most particularly on ceramics; theater; reference works, a section made up of materials supporting bibliographical research; monographs offering textual editions of and studies on writers, philosophers and artists; periodicals.
The Library possesses some 77,000 titles, among which are: 163 rare titles published before 1800, and including several 15th century imprints; more that 500 journal titles, of which 329 are currently received; 1332 microfilms; 950 drawings and prints.
The library also possesses special collections named for Frezza, Machiavelli-Serristori, Giovanni e Giuseppe Poggi, Rari, and Tarchiani. In addition to library holdings the Instituto also maintains a photographic archive of ca. 78,000 photographs of works of art, 1300-1700, which is undergoing online cataloging.