The library is located in a 17th century building, part of the complex of ' Minerva ', former General House of the Dominican fathers. Located in the Centre of Rome, between piazza Venezia and piazza della Rotonda (Pantheon)
The Casanatense library was established by the Dominican fathers of the convent of s. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome as a public library, at the behest of Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (1620-1700).
In 1701, after the construction of purpose-built building in a cloister of Minerva, the Architect Antonio Maria Bamaiyi, his first group the collection of Cardinal Casanate, rich of more than 25,000 volumes. The library was connected to the main European centres of book trade and was interested in both the current production is the antiques market, aiming at the realization of the ' universal library '. The Dominican fathers indirizzarono therefore purchases, as well as to traditional religious and theological disciplines-with an emphasis on non-confessional sense-even to the study of Roman law, and economy of the city of Rome.
He shared the top spot among the Roman libraries for the enlightened policy of purchases and for the expert course in bibliotheconomics and activities, especially linked to the catalogue figure of Giovanni Battista Audiffredi (1714-1794). In 1873, in Rome on religious corporations law, the Dominican prefect (Library Director) was joined a government official, and for some years the Casanatense had in common administration with the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, with which he was even established a direct passage through an overpass built between the two buildings.
In 1884, against the Dominican judicial dispute taken against Italian State, these were replaced with state staff.
After being administered by the Ministry of education, the library is now a peripheral Institute Ministry of cultural heritage and tourism.