Argentina’s National Library

(Photo by Halloween HJB)

Argentina’s National Library testifies to the long literary and academic tradition that the country boasts. It is of a great historical, architectural and of course cultural and educational value.

The library was founded in 1810 by the first Government Junta and aimed at promoting education and civic life as an aspect of the country’s independence.  At first it was set in San Telmo, in the Manzana de las Luces, an old Jesuit site, now open to visitors. In 1901 it was moved to Montserrat, to a building that had been designed to be a lottery.

Throughout the following years it became a prestigious institution directed by some of the country’s most renowned intellectuals and authors such as Marcos Sastre, Jose Marmol, and Jorge Luis Borges amongst others. Each director brought something new to it: a classification system, literary journals, valuable acquisitions, and the founding of the National School of Librarians.

During the sixties the library was moved once again, this time to Recoleta. A Brutalist building began to be built, although due to the many political turmoils it wasn’t finished until the nineties. The structure, designed by architect Clorindo Testa and his team, features an underground storage to preserve books from sunlight and take advantage of the space. Above, the geometric concrete structure has many reading rooms, and a great view of the Rio de la Plata.

Now a days the library is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm and Saturdays and Sundays from midday to 7pm. Guided tours are available on weekdays from 10am-2pm with prior reservation at 4808-6025 visitas@bn.gov.ar. Additionally, the library hosts many exhibits and cultural events. Find a full program here.  Aguero 2502, Palermo. 4808-6040. contacto@bn.gov.ar.

Close to the library is the Museo del Libro y de la Lengua (the book and language museum), also worth visiting. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 2pm-7pm.  Av. Las Heras 2555, Recoleta. 4808-0090.  museodellibro@bn.gov.ar

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