Biblioteca de Catalunya

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Biblioteca de Catalunya - entrance area
Biblioteca de Catalunya - Gothic hall on the ground floor
Biblioteca de Catalunya - reading room in the east wing (former men's ward)
Biblioteca de Catalunya - old hospital ward. This hall (in the north wing) was the only room restored when the library reopened in 1940.
Biblioteca de Catalunya - The original seat of the library in the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

The Biblioteca de Catalunya (also Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya ) is a Catalan cultural institution based in Barcelona , whose principal task is to collect, store and keep available printed, auditory and visual products that are written in the Catalan language or whose content is based on the Catalan Lecture on countries and their cultures. On the one hand, cultural documents that are written in Catalonia or the Catalan countries themselves, and on the other hand, cultural documents that were created outside of the Catalan countries are collected, recorded and made available to the general public. The Biblioteca de Catalunya acts as the national public library of Catalonia under the Library Act of 1981.

History and locations

The Biblioteca de Catalunya was founded in 1907 by Enric Prat de la Riba , the first President of Catalonia, as the library of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans ("Biblioteca de l'Institut d'Estudis Catalans"). It was set up on July 28, 1908, first on the 2nd floor in the rooms of the legal departments in the historic Palau de la Generalitat , today's seat of the Catalan government. In 1911, the first open access library in the Catalan countries and even the entire Iberian Peninsula was made available to the public in these rooms. On May 28, 1914, the library was opened to the public in all its functions. In 1922, Lluís Nicolau d'Olwer, then head of culture for the city of Barcelona, ​​decided to move the “Biblioteca de Catalunya” into the 15th century Gothic building “Hospital de la Santa Creu” due to a lack of space. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera initially interrupted the pursuit of this project, which was not resumed until 1930. In 1926 the city of Barcelona bought this building and restored it. This building housed the main hospital of the city of Barcelona from 1401 to 1926. On March 13, 1931, the city administration granted the library permission to use this historic building. On June 3, 1936, this building was declared an important national building in terms of art history. The first director of the library, Jordi Rubió i Balaguer, who was still in office at the time, planned the reorganization of the library in this building. In 1936 he opened the first reading room, the so-called "Sala Cervantina". Due to the Spanish Civil War that broke out shortly afterwards , he was unable to complete the move and the reorganization. During the civil war from 1936, when the library was closed to the public, around 300,000 books and documents were moved from the “Palau de la Generalitat” to the “Hospital de la Santa Creu” in a rescue operation led by the library and the Catalan government (Generalitat) " moved. On February 20, 1940, the library was reopened to the public under the new director Felip Mateu i Llopis.

There were serious changes in the library's aims and functions during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship and even more so during the Frankist era. During both phases, specifically from 1928 to 1930 and after the Spanish Civil War from 1939 to 1973, the library was called "Biblioteca Central de Catalunya". In 1939, the first director of the library, Jordi Rubió, was removed from office by the Frankists. The library itself has been transformed into an institution without any national mission. It only served as a supplementary library for the other public and university libraries in Catalonia. During this time, the bibliographic fund could only be expanded through donations from the bourgeoisie.

With the Library Act of 1981, the "Biblioteca de Catalunya" was raised again to the rank of the National Library of Catalonia. It was given the clear task of collecting and organizing Catalan cultural assets and making them available to scientists and the interested public. The 1993 law on the systematisation of library material in Catalonia specifies the following areas for this task, according to which the library has been organized since 1994.

  1. The library (collection and archiving of book media).
  2. The collection of graphics and prints.
  3. The Hemerothek (collection and archiving of magazines and periodicals).
  4. The phono and video library (collection of audio and visual documents).

In 1998 the central building was rebuilt and expanded. The Gothic ships have been restored. The central building was expanded to include four basement floors, which together contain around 40 kilometers of shelving, and a neighboring functional building. Today there are three Gothic reading rooms available to the public in the central building. In addition to the central location “Hospital de la Santa Creu”, the Biblioteca de Catalunya has several external locations in Barcelona and in Hospitalet de Llobregat .

From 2000, the digital recording and digitization of the library holdings began. The “Biblioteca de Catalunya” supports the Europeana project , which aims to digitize European cultural assets. She also takes part in the VIAF project , the creation of a virtual, international authority file for personal data.

The “Biblioteca de Catalunya” has the following strategic goals:

  1. A significant strengthening of digitization in the library system
  2. Increase in acquisitions of Catalan cultural assets
  3. Expansion of the library collections

The “Biblioteca de Catalunya” has a different history than many other European central libraries. These were often the result of a transformation of royal, ecclesiastical-monastic or large private libraries. The “Biblioteca de Catalunya”, on the other hand, arose in terms of organization and material through numerous donations purely from the Catalan bourgeoisie.

Significance in the cultural and political environment of Catalonia

The framework agreement of the Catalan cultural institutions and politics of October 14, 1985 (also called "pact cultural") provides for the establishment of a supreme administrative council for the libraries of Catalonia. In the management of this organization are represented: 1.) The Catalan government ( Generalitat de Catalunya ). 2.) The district administration of Barcelona (Diputació de Barcelona) and 3.) The management of the Biblioteca de Catalunya, which in turn consists of representatives of the state government, the city of Barcelona and the Institut d'Estudis Catalans. According to the “pact cultural”, the central libraries of Barcelona are coordinated with the network of local libraries throughout Catalonia.


From 1908 the "Biblioteca Catalana" was built up through purchases and donations from other libraries. The library on the Catalan language and culture was bought by Marià Aguiló as a starter package in 1908 . From this year the library corpus was gradually built up and expanded through donations and further acquisitions. The main work from 1907 to 1914 consisted of the selection, purchase and cataloging of new collections. At the beginning of 1914, the body of the library comprised 23,890 volumes and 248 manuscripts. In 1914 statutes were drawn up and a patronage (foundation) for the library was established. From that year the "Butlletí de la Biblioteca de Catalunya" (Bulletin of the Biblioteca de Catalunya) was published, which appeared regularly until 1932. Historical, bibliographical and paleographical treatises were published here.


From 1908 to 1914

From 1915

From 1940

  • Book collection by Paluzie Lucena (1940)
  • Music collections by Martínez Imbert (1941), Joaquim Pena (1941), Sancho Marracao (1960), Manuel Burgès (1968), Higini Anglès (1970)
  • Editions of the "Imitació de Crist" by Ignasi de Janer (1941)
  • Works by Juan de la Cruz by Lluís M. Soler (1942)
  • Collection of bindings and bindings by Hermengild Miralles (1951)
  • the legacy of Espona-Brunet with 40 incunabula (1959)
  • the Perdigó Collection (1963)
  • the Sedó-Peris theater collection (1968)
  • Documentation of the Frederic Marès Book Foundation consisting of 31 old manuscripts, 92 incunabula, 337 prints from the 16th century and other valuable items (1985)


From 1908 to 1914

From 1915

From 1940

  • Book collections and archives by Foix (1991), Maragall (1993), Carner (1994), Joaquim Renart (1995), Rovira i Virgili (1995), Guimerà (1995)

Present stock

The library currently has:

  • more than 1,000,000 volumes
  • more than 3,000 manuscripts
  • 640 incunabula
  • a music department with more than 12,000 scores
  • a Cervantes specialist library (Cervantina; one of the most complete Cervantes libraries in the world)
  • Prints from the 16th to the 18th centuries
  • Documentary series
  • Engravings
  • Collection of ecclesiastical songs of praise (the so-called "goigs") and other texts from popular literature
  • Maps
  • Magazines

The head of the library

The following personalities have directed the “Biblioteca de Catalunya” or are currently in charge of it.


  • Enciclopèdia Catalana: Biblioteca de Catalunya . In: Gran enciclopèdia catalana. 2nd edition 5th reprint 1992. Volume 5 . Enciclopèdia catalana, Barcelona 1987, ISBN 84-85194-89-6 , p. 34 f . (Catalan).

Web links

Commons : Biblioteca de Catalunya  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. The address of the library is: Carrer de l'Hospital, 56, Barcelona
  2. to: "Biblioteca de Catalunya" on (Catalan)

Coordinates: 41 ° 22 ′ 52 ″  N , 2 ° 10 ′ 11 ″  E