Feeling the need to escape the noisy chaos synonymous with living in Buenos Aires? The city’s public libraries emerge as potential saviours to the constant honking and bustle occurring on the street. Here is a list of some of the best public libraries in town.
Biblioteca Municipal Miguel Cané
Founded in 1927, this quiet unassuming, little place has more fame than you might think thanks to providing Jorge Luis Borges with his first job. The literary genius started his career classifying books and writing his first short stories in his spare time. Tucked away in the neighborhood of Boedo, it has a swoon-worthy collection of classic books and has been visited by literary greats like Juan Villoro, Mario Vargas Llosa and Jorge Edwards. The place has become a must see attraction for foreigners who are eager to follow Borges’ steps. Above the main hall, there is a room where the famous author used to work: scattered around the place the visitor will be able to find his desk, a typewriter and some of the author’s most iconic books and translations. The library not only presents itself as a cozy neighborhood spot but also as a place of history where the greatest Argentine author kick started his epic writing career.
Biblioteca Nacional de Maestros
La Biblioteca Nacional de Maestros was founded within the scope of the modern project launched by La Generación del 80 (The 1880’s Generation), whose main objective was to promote the educational Argentine system. It is located within in the historic Palacio Sarmiento and has a collection of over 200,000 pieces including books, magazines, videos and documents centering around educational and pedagogical material. The library is a clear reflection of how important education was for Argentina’s founding fathers the constitutional laws that were later enacted regarding public education. The building is impressive with an imposing architectural style and outer facade acting as lasting reminder of a nation ready to provide its citizens with an literary and cultural identity.
The library is divided into different areas including a reading room, the sala americana, a media library, the newspaper library, and even the sala del tesoro which we think should be translated as the “treasure room”. The library itself is impressive with its mahogany floors, dim light and elegant curtains providing an oldschool escape from the chaos outside.
Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina
La Biblioteca Nacional is the most important library in the country. It used to be located at the very historic Cabildo building but was later moved to Las Heras and Austria and redesigned by the renowned architect Clorindo Testa together with Francisco Bullrich and Alicia Cazzaniga. Some of the most relevant directors of the library were Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Groussac and Gustavo Martínez Zuviría. No big deal, right?
The building is also pretty famous for being a textbook example of brutalist design — which was very big in the 1950’s apparently and was known for its trademark concrete structures and revindication of nature. The building’s unusual layout is thought to be designed to maximize green space below by placing the main reading room on the fifth floor. This gives an almost tree-like shape to the structure and provides a view of El Río de la Plata. The library is divided into thirteen floors cluttered with different spacious sectors filled with documents, books, magazines, journals and entries dating back as early as Argentina’s colonial era. The is also a reading room for the blind, a room for “musical scores”, and a cool map and image library.
Biblioteca del Congreso de la Nación
One of the most breathtaking libraries in the country stands mer meters from Congreso. La Biblioteca del Congreso is a national institution created in 1859 with the purpose of assisting congress people with their enquires and to provide ordinary citizens with general information, documentation and legislative or legal advice regarding regional, national and international affairs. Its gorgeous form serves a slightly less glamour function but is still very much worth the trip.
The building had suffered a series of architectural “modifications” leading up to being updated with reading rooms to make space for cultural activities within its daily agenda. The Library includes a micro cinema, exhibition areas, conference rooms, workshops and meeting rooms as wells as a themed bar for readers. Once you go through the security barrier you will be able to get immersed into a tranquil parallel reality as you enter a spacious foyer surrounded by high ceilings, paved with marble floors and filled with bronze statues. The library itself seems straight out of a movie: immense bookshelves are illuminated with dim lights and old fashioned mahogany desks are scattered all around for readers to find the most suitable spot.