A hidden corner at Recoleta, the National Library not only hosts the cultural treasure of the Argentinian people, but it is also an ideal place to tour around, have a coffee and, undoubtedly, read a book.
As if it was a kind of green border, one of its façades overlooks Las Heras Avenue (very busy and urban) and the other one faces the squares in Recoleta
. It can be seen from the distance: the National Library is intriguing and highly identifiable. There we went in order to learn a little bit more about it. Reading Atmosphere
Situated on a piece of land where once was the official residence dwelled by President Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Eva Duarte, the National Public Library is much more than a magnificent building that today hosts the library, it casts shadow over a large green space surrounded it.
Visitors can have access through Las Heras Avenue by crossing the Reading Garden, a peaceful and small square with a water fountain, benches and trails. We went up its concrete structure towards the entrance the ground floor. But, if visitors are interested in wandering around the library before plunging into piles of books, they can find a sculpture honoring John Paul II towards the other side of the building, a green slope towards Recoleta squares and, a little bit below, a monument to honor Eva Duarte de Perón.
The Country and Books
Originally named the National Public Library of Buenos Aires, it was founded by the First Assembly on September 13, 1810. Fostered mainly by Mariano Moreno, it was an integral part of an enlightened project to bring about a deep change in society through knowledge. Its first building was located in the Manzana de las Luces
(the Block of Enlightenment), on the corner of Moreno and Perú Streets.
In the 1880s, the institution became the National Library as a result of the restructuring of institutions in the country. Paul Groussac was the then director and encouraged the idea of purchasing a sophisticated building on 564, Mendoza Street.
By the 1960s, the need of a new building resulted in an invitation to an open tender in 1961, which was awarded to the projects submitted by architects Clorindo Testa, Alicia D. Cazzanica and Francisco Bullrich. However, the current building, defined by its Brutalist style, was opened in 1992, when a new organization of the city
The National Library and its Occupants
As it is clearly seen, the history of the library is closely related to the history of Argentina. Every change in the country was reflected in this institution. The National Library is a key element to understand how the country shapes its future and the role played by culture in society.
Remarkable intellectual figures of our culture managed this institution, namely, Marcos Sastre, José Mármol, Vicente Quesada, Paul Groussac and Jorge Luis Borges.
But, beyond its enlightened past, the most important role of the National Library as the center of Argentinian culture is the activity offered to visitors.
Its aim is not confined to preserving the library collection and making them available to the public, but to promoting events such as exhibitions, conferences, performances, movies, concerts of all kind, competitions and an array of courses of studies. The most interesting part of the National Public Library is no doubt behind its doors.