1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern World - South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru), Mexico

(Part 13)


The importance of public libraries has been fully recognized by the Argentine, and at present more than two hundred of them are in the country. They are due to benefactions, but the Government in every case adds an equal sum to any endowment. A central commission exists for the purpose of facilitating the acquisition of books and to promote a uniform excellence of administration. The most considerable is the Biblioteca nacional at Buenos-Ayres [Buenos Aires], which contains at present 40,000 volumes, and has been almost doubled since 1872. It is passably rich in in MSS., some of great interest, concerning the early history of the Spanish colonies.

The chief library of Brazil is the Bibliotheca Publica nacional at Rio de Janeiro, founded in 1807, and now comprising 120,000 printed volumes with 1000 MSS. National literature and works connected with South America are special features of this collection. The Royal Library of Ajuda (including 4000 MSS.) was taken to Brazil by King Jono VI., but was sent to Portugal on the declaration of independence. Since 1873 the annual Government grant has been largely increased. Among other libraries of the capital may be mentioned those of the Faculty of Medicine (18,000 volumes), Marine Library (19,500 volumes), National Museum (9000 volumes), Portuguese Literary Club (53,000 volumes), Bibliotheca Fluminense (43,000 volumes), Benedictine Monastery (9000 volumes), and the bibliotheca Municipal (15,500 volumes). In the official report on the Brazil, submitted at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876, it was stated that the aggregate number of volumes in all the libraries of the empire accessible to the public was then 460,272 volumes. In 1875 the libraries were visited by 85,044 persons.

The Biblioteca nacional at Santiago is the chief library in Chili [Chile]. The catalogue is printed, and is kept up by annual supplements.

Only sixteen out of the twenty-nine states and territories of the Mexican republic have public libraries, and only a small proportion of the contents consists of modern literature. Many, however, possess rare and valuable books, of interest to the bibliographer, which have come from the libraries of the suppressed religious bodies. It is calculated that books in all the public libraries amount to about 250,000 volumes. There are about seventy-three scientific and literary associations in the republic, each possessing books. The Society of Geography and Statistics, founded in1851, is the most important of them, and owns a fine museum and excellent library. After the triumph of the Liberal party the cathedral, university, and conventual libraries of the city of Mexico came into the possession of the Government, and steps were taken to form them into one national collection. No definite system was organized however, until 1867, when the church of San Augustin was taken and fitted up for the purpose. Two copies of every book printed in Mexico must be presented to this library. The only other public library in the city is the Bibliotheca Cinco de Mayo, which is under the management of the Lancastrian Society.

The Biblioteca Nacional at Lima was founded by a decree of the liberator San Martin on August 28, 1821, and placed in the house of the old convent of San Pedro. The nucleus of the library consisted of those of the university of San Marcos and of several monasteries, and a large present of books was also made by San Martin. The library is chiefly interesting from containing so many MSS. and rare books relating to the history of Peru in vice-regal times. The volumes marked "Papeles varios" contain reports on the superstitions of the Indians, abstracts of the ecclesiastical councils of Lima, and memoirs on provincial administration and petitions it is reported (1881) that the whole library has been seized by the Chilians and transferred to Santiago.

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