libraries

libraries
   In addition to its two largest libraries, the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) and the Biblioteca de Catalunya (National Library of Catalonia), Spain has a range of facilities including public libraries, university and school libraries, libraries of learned bodies such as the Royal Academies, and various private and special libraries.
   The Biblioteca Nacional
   Originally a Royal Library established by Philip V in the early eighteenth century (1711), the Biblioteca Nacional is the legal deposit library for Spain, with all the problems of space and resources that that position entails. Extensive reconstruction of the building it has occupied in Madrid since 1892 was begun in 1986, with two phases completed by 1994. A new building in Alcalá de Henares, at first intended for a separate Inter-library Loan Service, functions as a second book repository. A programme of automation begun in 1988 has resulted in the formation of the ARIADNA data-base which facilitates the compilation of the national bibliography for which the library assumed responsibility in 1986, and other computerised bibliographical projects. In a major administrative reorganization in 1991 it became an autonomous body, with a president (the Minister of Education) and a general director.
   With total holdings of some eight million items, including important collections of material from the Inquisition, from the Madrid convents and monasteries dissolved in 1837, and from the many private libraries donated during the nineteenth century, it provides a range of services, including a General Information Service, a Library Documentary Service and a Periodicals Documentary Service.
   The Biblioteca de Catalunya
   Originally founded in 1907 as the library of the Institute of Catalan Studies and established as a national library in 1914, the Biblioteca de Catalunya is the legal deposit library for books printed or published in Catalonia. Housed since 1936–9 in the former Hospital de la Santa Creu it regained its national status with the creation of the Autonomous Region of Catalonia in 1979 and the first Catalan Libraries Act in 1981. Its functions were further defined in the Catalan Library System Law of 1993, and include the creation of a Catalan national bibliography and union catalogue. The process of automation, using Catalan software (SICAB), was begun in 1990, and major reconstruction of the original building and the creation of new storage space was started in 1993.
   Among the important holdings in its total of some two million items are the Cervantes Collection, the Verdaguer Collection, the Torres Amat Library, the Biblioteca Romàntica Tusquets de Cabirol and the Arxiu Joan Maragall Collection.
   Public libraries
   There has been a very noticeable extension and improvement of the public library system since the mid-1980s and a corresponding growth in the number of readers and loans, which increased by the best part of a million each between 1992 and 1995 alone. A project to integrate the libraries into a single automated system (PROIN) was begun in 1989 and has resulted in the creation of the REBECA database.
   Other libraries
   University and special libraries have also developed their own union catalogues, facilitating joint cataloguing and interlibrary loans, and along with the national, public and Royal Academy libraries are represented on the Library Coordination Council which is attached to the Ministry of Culture and is chaired by the director of the Biblioteca Nacional. Cathedrals and religious houses often have rich holdings of interest to scholars, and there are valuable private research collections such as that in the Menéndez y Pelayo Library in Santander, formed from the personal library of the nineteenth-century polymath Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, and open to bona fide scholars. The Ateneo has extensive holdings, as has the Cortes, though their use is normally restricted to members of these bodies.
   Further reading
   - Girón, A. (1994) " The Biblioteca Nacional of Spain", Alexandria, 6 (2): 91–105 (a very detailed and informative article by a former director of the National Library).
   - Panyella, V. (1993) "The Biblioteca de Catalunya—National Library of Catalonia", Alexandria, 5 (2): 127–42 (a very detailed and informative article by the library manager).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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