The National Library of the Argentine Republic (Spanish: Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina) is the largest library in Argentina and one of the most important in the Americas. It is located in the barrio of Recoleta in Buenos Aires.
Public Library of Buenos Aires:
Originally named the Public Library of Buenos Aires and founded in September 1810 by decree of the first Government Junta of the May Revolution first Government Junta, it later became the country’s only national library when it redefined its mission in 1884 and formally changed its name to the National Library of Argentina. The first headquarters, an old 18th century mansion that belonged to the Jesuits, was located on the corner of Moreno Street and Peru Street, within the historic Jesuit site known as the Manzana de Las Luces.
Mariano Moreno, the first director, prompted the creation of the Library as part of a package of measures aimed at forging a public alert towards political and civic life. Moreover, the foundation of the Public Library was laid upon the vindication of public education and instruction as a means for building an autonomous country. The initial collection was interwoven with the struggle for independence, and was gathered from the expropriated personal collection of Bishop Orellana as well as the patriotic donations of the Cabildo, the Real Colegio San Carlos, Luis José Chorroarín, and Manuel Belgrano. The library’s first chief directors were Dr. Saturnino Segurola and Fray Cayetano Rodriguez, both men of the Church. They were followed by Chorroarín and Manuel Moreno (brother and biographer of the founder). The lineage of directors which followed is still considered a crucial part of the Argentine intellectual and historic fabric: Marcos Sastre, Carlos Tejedor, José Mármol, Vicente Quesada, Manuel Trelles, and José Antonio Wilde.
When Buenos Aires became the capital of the Republic, the Public Library of Buenos Aires became the National Library and Antonio Wilde was appointed as its director. Wilde’s tenure did not last long due to his old age and death after a sudden illness. Paul Groussac followed his directorship. Groussac created a methodical classification system based on Brunet’s bibliographic model, undertook the cataloging of the manuscript collection, and published two remarkable journals: La Biblioteca, being one of the most prestigious literary journals, and Los Anales de la Biblioteca.
Another milestone was the opening of the building on Mexico Street (in the Montserrat ward) in 1901, a building which was originally designed for the National Lottery. This is the reason early visitors unfamiliar with the story of the building were commonly surprised when walking a staircase adorned with lottery-ornaments. During Groussac’s forty-year administration the library’s patrimony was also enriched with many important donations including Angel Justiniano Carranza‘s personal collection, 18,600 volumes from the nineteenth-century legal expert Amancio Alcorta, and Martín García Merou’s collection - which included valuable papers regarding the foundation of the city of Buenos Aires. Ironically, just as the former director Mármol and the future director, Borges, Groussac developed blindness. He still operated as the National Library’s director for some years before dying in 1929.