Cto. Interior S/N, C.U., Coyoacán, 04510 Ciudad de México, CDMX
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is the largest university in the country and its large campus has become an internationally recognizable landmark of Mexico City itself. Right at the center of this space is the UNAM Central Library, which was inaugurated in 1956 and designed by architect Juan O’Gorman in collaboration with Carlos Lazo, who was designing the main campus as a whole, united, entity. The building is 10 floors in height and its completely covered on all 4 of its sides by a mosaic design called “Historical Representation of Culture”, which was also designed and executed by O’Gorman. Each side of the mosaic design represents an era of history: one side represents Mexico’s Pre-Columbine period, another one the colonial era, the third side represents the modern era, and finally the fourth side depicts the history of the universe.
The library’s collection is one of the most comprehensive in the country, it opened with approximately 80,000 volumes and includes special collections composed of Mexican and international publications from the XIX and XX centuries. Among the special collections housed in this main library are first editions, limited editions, author’s editions, and special formats. The “Tobías Chávez Lavista” collection includes 522 printed works and 23 manuscripts. There’s also a collection of old and rare books that span from the XV to the XVIII centuries. Nowadays the total collection of the library amounts to some 1.5 million volumes, of which a third of them are books, it also includes about half a million thesis developed mainly by students of UNAM. Around 300,000 volumes out of the total collection are available digitally to library users.
The library, along with the main campus as a whole, was named a UNESCO heritage site in 2007. The library is located a few steps away from the campus’ rectory tower and can be easily reached by Metrobus Línea 1 stations “Ciudad Universitaria” and “Dr. Galvez”, or by Metro, which has a Línea 3 station, “UNAM”, that services the campus, and from that station, you can take the Pumabús free shuttle service that travels through the whole campus. The UNAM Central Library is worth a visit for its decorative design and can be a part of a larger tour of the campus on any given day.