De La Ciudadela 4, Colonia Centro, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06040 Ciudad de México, CDMX
Public libraries are part of the cultural catalog of Mexico City, and even though the focus should always be on the books themselves, some are known for their looks and architecture, such as the impressive Biblioteca Vasconcelos (Vasconcelos Library) in Buenavista, or the UNAM Central Library in the main campus of that university; and some are known for their eccentric nature, such as the bohemian and free-spirited Aeromoto next to the Zócalo. But the main library in the city is still the Biblioteca de Mexico (Library of Mexico) which was founded in 1946 by then-president Manuel Ávila Camacho and Secretary of Education Jaime Torres Bodet, with illustrious educator and philosopher José Vasconcelos, as its first director.
The Library of Mexico was installed in the La Ciudadela building in the center of Mexico City, which was constructed in 1793 by Spanish architect Jose Antonio González Velázquez with the idea of housing the Royal Cigar and Cigarette Factory of Mexico. The original collection was comprised of 40,000 volumes but has grown to nowadays have 950,000 units, made up of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. In 2011 it was remodeled at a cost of 550 million pesos and was christened with a new name “The City of Books and Image”, yet the new name never caught on it went back to being named “The Library of Mexico”.
The Library of Mexico is known for the five “personal” libraries of five noted Mexican writers and thinkers, each one has its own room and these were incorporated into the main library during the renovation of 2011. They are the following:
Jose Luis Martínez Library: He was a writer, journalist, and philosopher. His personal library is comprised of 75,000 units of Mexican and world literature as well as a newspaper library.
Antonio Castro Leal Library: He was a lawyer, writer, and director of UNAM; his collection includes thousands of poetry works, and over 8,000 units in French and English.
Jaime Garcías Terrés Library: He was an editor, diplomat, and poet. The smallest of the personal collections has 19,255 documents but has one of the most important poetry collections in Mexico.
Alí Chumacero Library: He was an editor and poet, mainly known as the editor of the novel Pedro Páramo by Juán Rulfo.
Carlos Monsivais Library: A noted intellectual and writer, his collection of 30,000 is mainly known for its works in fiction and poetry.
The Library of Mexico also hosts a collection of books in braille for the visually impaired and hosts many exhibitions and events around the books that are in its collection. This cathedral of literature is free of charge for whoever wishes to appreciate its valuable exhibition.