National Library of Catalonia - History

History

The library was founded in 1907 as the library of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans. It was opened to the public in 1914, in the time of the Commonwealth of Catalonia, and was housed in the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya.

In 1914 the Commonwealth of Catalonia converted the library of the IEC into a public cultural service. In its early days, the library was situated in an area of the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona. In 1929, the library was acquired by the city government of Barcelona. In 1931, the 15th century buildings formerly occupied by the Hospital de Santa Creu were declared a part of Spain's historical patrimony; and the municipality of Barcelona approved the cession of large portion of the site to the Biblioteca de Catalunya.

In 1936 the first reading room, the Sala Cervantina was opened, but the project was halted because of the Civil War and not all of the necessary adaptations were completed. After the fall of Barcelona in early 1939, the library was closed until 1940. After the Spanish Civil War, in 1940, the library was renamed the Central Library by the Franco regime and moved to its new site, where it remains to this day. During the rule of Franco, the institution was turned into a general use library, which was intended to supplement the deficiencies of the public and university libraries.

In 1981 it was made the national library of Catalonia by the Llei de biblioteques ('Libraries law') of 1981, approved by the Parliament of Catalonia, conferring upon it the duties of the reception, conservation, and distribution of the Catalan legal deposit. In 1993, the Law of the Library System of Catalonia extended the institution's depository functions and helped in its modernization, which included the remodelling of the building, its reorganization and the digitization of its procedures.

During the 1990s, a major renovation project further transformed the library, including the construction of four underground levels of storage (creating more than 40 kilometres of shelf-space) and the annex building. In 1998, the library renovated the Gothic elements of its buildings and extended its space, thanks to the construction of a new services building.

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