I spent last week in Barcelona, Spain for a library conference! The conference was fantastic and my presentation went well. I was also able to do a number of tourist-y things throughout the city, including visiting a few libraries! So here are the top 10 reasons to visit the National Library of Catalonia, or Biblioteca de Catalunya:
- It is located just off La Rambla, a popular walking district in the city with lots of shops, food, and fun times.
- With roughly 3 million items, the National Library of Catalonia is the place for Catalan linguistic and historical research.
- The library hosts a number of temporary and travelling exhibits, so there is always something new to see and learn about!
- The library is housed in a former hospital building and the inside is truly gorgeous:
- The library still owns its original card catalog (which stopped being updated in the 1990s when the catalog became digital), complete with handwritten cards dating back to 1914!
- The library owns one of the oldest documents written in Catalan: the Homilies d’ Organyà, a collection of six sermons written in 1204.
- The library’s courtyard has its own orange trees! Maybe this is more common in Spain, but I found it to be pretty charming…
- The National Library contains the Frederic Marès Book Museum, a privately-donated collection that illustrates the history of the book from medieval times through today. Definitely a must-see for bibliophiles.
- Along with four other libraries in Catalonia, the National Library has partnered with Google to digitize and add books in Spanish and Catalan to the Google Books Library Project. Definitely a great access initiative that will open up Catalonia to the rest of the world!
- A local public library is housed in the same building; so if you’re in the mood for something lighter or less academic, it’s just a stroll across the courtyard!
To visit the National Library of Catalonia:
08001 Barcelona, Spain
+34-93-270-23-00 (ext. 3155)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9AM-8PM; Saturday, 9AM-2PM; Sunday, closed