Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oldest Public Library in the Americas?

There are several libraries that make claim to being the oldest public library in the United States of America, but one library claims to be the oldest public library in the Americas. That library is the Biblioteca Palafoxiana in Puebla, Mexico. The Biblioteca Palafoxiana was founded in 1646 and was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2005. In 1996 Mexico issued a postage stamp (at the left) to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the library. According to Mexico's submission to the Memory of the World Register, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana "is noted for its authenticity and bibliographical wealth, building and bookcases, with more than 41,000 volumes among those that the library preserves as well as world unique manuscripts, there are 9 incunabula." The library was founded by Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, a Catholic priest who served as bishop of Puebla from 1640 to 1655. The blog "All About Puebla" indicates that the library is noteworthy for its sheer beauty and includes finely carved bookshelves. Was the library truly a public library as we know it in the United States? Probably not. However, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza did establish the library by donating 5,000 of his own books to the Colegio de San Juan on the condition that they be made available to the general public. Currently it is more of a rare book and research library. Information about visiting the library can be found HERE.


Unknown said...

It's Puebla, not Pueblo, Mexico. Thanks for sharing!

Larry T. Nix said...

Thanks for the correction Jose.