National Library of Spain


November 28, 2021

The National Library of Spain is the main Spanish library, being the depositary center of the Spanish bibliographic heritage. It is located at number 20 of the Paseo de Recoletos in Madrid and shares the building with the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. It currently has a bibliographic collection of 17 million documents and has a second office in Alcalá de Henares.


Founded by Philip V in 1712 as a royal library, the decree of creation was promulgated on January 2, 1716, with the dual function of bringing knowledge to the citizens and collecting the libraries of some nobles. The printers were obliged to provide the Library with a copy of all books published in Spain. The first work, the result of the work of the Library, was published in 1738, with the title of Bibliotheca Universal de la Polygraphia Española, created by Cristóbal Rodríguez. In 1761, Charles III founded the Imprenta Real at the expense of the oldest librarian, favoring the multiplication of works, thanks to the direction of the poet and playwright Vicente Antonio García de la Huerta. In 1836, the Library begins to be called Nacional and its activity stops depending on the Royal House, to pass into the hands of the public administration. The desamortización causes the closure of numerous convents and religious institutions, therefore the Library begins a policy of recovering the material, increasing its funds and above all improving its quality. In 1892, 26 years after its inception, the works of the so-called Palacio de Museos, Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales in Madrid, a neoclassical building designed by the architect Francisco Jareño y Alarcón (1818–1892), and in 1896 all the funds had been permanently moved to the new headquarters. During the Spanish Civil War, between 1936 and 1939, almost half a million volumes entered the library. As early as 1986, the Library will integrate the Hemeroteca Nacional, the Instituto Bibliográfico Hispano and the Centro del Tesoro Documental, all as a single project. In 1991 a new book warehouse was created in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, to cope with the continuous growth of the collections.

Government and administration

The Library depends directly on the Ministry of Culture and the Director General of the same, to whom the law assigns the faculties of a higher consultative body, headed by a Consejo de Dirección, a Technical Directorate and an administrative office.


Currently, the library has: 2 073 718 modern books (from 1831) 215 383 sound recordings 122 327 magazines and periodicals 106 007 full scores 89 278 old books (up to 1830) 80 167 records, drawings and photographs 46 624 geographical maps and plans 42 035 audiovisuals 9 512 manuscripts and documents.


Other projects

Wikimedia Commons contains images or other files on the National Library of Spain

External links

(ES) Official site, on (EN) National Library of Spain, on GitHub.

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