1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern World - Spain and Portugal

(Part 8)


The chief library in Spain is the Biblioteca Nacional (formerly the Biblioteca Real) at Madrid. The printed volumes knumber 400,000 volumes, with 200,000 pamphlets; the accessions in 1880 amounted to 25,840 articles. Spanish literature is of course well represented, and, in consequence of the numerous accessions from the libraries of the suppressed convents, the classes of theology, canon law, history, &c., are particularly complete. The number of bibliographical rarities was largely increased by the incorporation of the valuable collection formed by the well-known bibliographer Don Luis de Usoz. There are 30,000 MSS., contained in 10,000 volumes and bundles; they include some finely illuminated codices, historical documents, and many valuable autographs. The collection of prints extends to 120,000 pieces, and was principally formed from the important series bought from Don Valentin Carderera in 1865. In 1880 54,875 books were issued to 51,966 readers. The annual revenue is only 1600 pounds. The printed books have one catalogue arranged under author’s names, and one under titles; the departments of music, maps and charts, and prints have subject-catalogues as well. There is a general index of the MSS., with special catalogues of the Greek and Latin codices and genealogical documents. The first (and only) volume of a printed catalogue of the Greek MSS. appeared in 1769. The cabinet of medals is most valuable and well arranged. Of the other Madrid libraries (see the tables) it is enough to mention the Biblioteca de la Academia de la Historia (20,000 volumes and 1500 MSS.), which contain some printed and MS. Spanish books of great value, including the well-known Salazar collection. – The history of the library of the ESCORIAL has been given at vol. viii. p. 541. In 1808, before the invasion, the Escorial is estimated to have contained 30,000 printed volumes and 3400 MSS.; Joseph removed the collection to Madrid, but when it was returned by Ferdinand 10,000 volumes were missing. There are now 32,142 printed volumes, with 583 Greek, 1905 Arabic, 73 Hebrew, and 2050 Latin MSS. The Arabic MSS. have been described by M. Casiri, 1760-70; and a catalogue of the Greek codices by Muller was issued at the expense of the French Government in 1848. There is an imperfect written catalogue of the printed books, and the present librarian is now engaged upon a catalogue of the Latin MSS. Permission to study at the Escorial, which is one of the royal private libraries, must be obtained by special application.

Among the libraries of Portugal the Bibliotheca nacional Lisbon naturally takes the first place. In 1841 it was largely increased from the monastic collections, which, however, seem to have been little cared for according to a report prepared by the principal lkibrarian three years later. There are now said to be 200,000 volumes of printed books, among which theology, canon law, history, and Portuguese and Spanish literature largely predominate. The MSS number 9415, including many of great value. There is also a cabinet of 40,000 coins and medals. – The Bibliotheca da Academia, founded in 1780, is preserved in the suppressed convent of the Ordem Terceira da Penitencia. In 1836 the Academy acquired the library of that convent, numbering 30,000 volumes, which have since been kept apart. The Archivo Nacional, in the same building, contains the archives of the kingdom, brought here after the destruction of the Torre do Castello during the great earthquake.

The Bibliotheca Publica Municipal at Oporto is the second largest in Portugal, although only dating from July 9, 1883, the anniversary of the debarkation of D. Pedro and when the memorable siege was still in progress; from that date to 1874 it was styled the Real Bibliotheca do Porto. The regent (ex-emperor of Brazil) gave to the town the libraries of the suppressed convents in the northern provinces, the municipality undertaking to defray expense of keeping up the collection, but only 180 pounds is yearly spent on books and bindings, and 380 pounds on salaries. Recent accessions consist mainly of Portuguese and French books. The important Camoens collection is described in a printed catalogue, Oporto, 1880. a notice of the MSS. may be found in Catalogo dos MSS. da B. Publica Eborense, by H. da Cunha Rivara, Lisbon, 1850-70, 3 vols. folio, and the first part of an Indice preparatorio do Catalogodos Manuscriptos was produced in 1880.

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