Originally established in 1812 by a group of citizens and set up in the Town Hall, it was later transferred to the Abbey of Santo Spirito al Morrone, where its collection of books helped to increase the already substantial library of the College of Abruzzi, which had been initiated by Pietro Angeleri before be became Pope. Just a few years later, however, in 1816, the transfer of the Royal College to L'Aquila resulted in the loss of the entire collection of books.
Only in 1865 did the City establish a new Library, which brought together collections coming from the suppressed monasteries of the Reformati of Castel di Sangro and San Nicola della Forma of Sulmona - the latter of which was considered the most important of the Franciscan Province. In 1867, the collections of the monastic libraries of neighbouring villages, such as Raiano, Pacentro and Scanno were added.
The site chosen was a local former Jesuit College, which in 1860 had become municipal property: an 18th century building decorated with stucco, which already had capacious books shelves made from walnut along the walls.
During the restoration of the walls niches and putti were found, which suggested that the room had been used by the Jesuits as a ‘scriptorium’ or chapel. The Sala Lignea is still the most precious room of the Library, which over the years was greatly extended. In 1958, to mark the millennium of the birth of the poet Sulmona, the library was named after Ovid.