The main and largest library of the Dominican Republic is the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National library. It is located in the Jan Pablo Duarte Culture Plaza on César Nicolás Pensón Street in Santo Domingo. It was inaugurated on February 28, 1971 by President Dr].Joaquín Balaguer. It was expanded and reinauguratec on August 6, 2012 by President Dr. Leonel Fernández.
The creation of a nationallibrary in the Dominican Republic goes back to 1927 when President Horacio Vásquez promulgated Law 66 which created the “National Museum and National Library.” President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in 1935 promulgated Law 1011 ordering the creation the commemorative stamps “Pro-Archives and National Libraries.” Despite all of that, the national library was not a reality until 1971 when President Dr. Joaquín Balaguer inaugurates the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library.
The genersl goals of the public library is to acquire al, works by Dominican writers and authors published in the Dominican Republic and abroad (regardless if its published in Spanish or in another language). Also it acquires any works or books pertaining to the Dominican Republic by foreign authors. It also acquires international organisms publications with a Dominican theme. In addition, it collects internationsl scientific, technical and/or cultural publications that have a great impact in the universal knowledge of humanity.
A quick parenthesis is the founding of the First Library in America at the Ozama Fortress in Santo Domingo by Gonzálo Fernández de Oviedo. Despite in doesn’texist in actuality, starting with its foundation in 1553 it was crested with the most importsnt books of those times. This makes it not just the First Library of the New World, but also the most importsnt in an entire hemisphere.
This article is to show some aspects of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library. This institution was created as a bibliographic knowledge temple of the Dominican Republic.
Anthem of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library
The 1971 original building of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library is the central white part of the current building, was designed by Dominican Architect José Antonio Caro Álvarez. It was built at a cost of RD1.2 million (US$1.2 million) and it has four floors (5,600 M2) in a 1,800 M2 construction area.
The library was extended on its eastern and western sides and reinaugurated in 2012. The expertise of Dominican architects Gustavo Luis Moré and Juan Cristóbal Caro and the size was increased to between 18,000 M2 and 20,000 M2.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Statue
Near the main entrance is a statue of one of the world’s most known aithor of the Spanish language, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. He is wearing typical Spanish clothing for the era.
A not very well known aspect of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library. It is that it was built on the exact spot that stood the house of General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. After the Dominican government confiscated all properties belonging to the Trujillo family, the house was destroyed to give way tio the construction of the library. Although nothing remains of the house, the originsl fence of the house still exist. In other words, the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library has a small part on display of the XX century history of the Dominican Republic.
The interior of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library was entirely remodeled to flow from the original building to the two new wings. Similar to what happened to the facade, new materiak was used including marble, glass, stsinless railing and other things. The result is a very warm and luxurious interior that produces happiness and seriousness at the same time. It kind of tells visitors “welcome, feel comfortable and happy, but don’t forget that this is serious.”
Salomé Ureña Metropolitan Public Library
In the eastern wing is found the Salomé Ureña Metropolitan Library. It is used a lot by students, teachers, and the general public for research and general readings. It meets the guarantee of a necessary basic public service for Dominican citizens.
Luis Florens Lozano Reading Room
The Luis Florens Lozano Reading Room is one of the largest snd important reading rooms of the library. Luis Florens Lozano was a native of Spain and lived in the Dominican Republic for a time in the XX century. His input in the foundation of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library was of great importance. It was so important that the library graced one of its rooms with his name.
Aída Cartagena Portalatín Room
The Aída Cartagena Portalatín Room has a multiuse character. It can accommodate 200 people at once. On its four walls are photos of many Dominican and international authors such as Aída Cartagena Portalatín, José Gabriel García, Gabriel García Márquez, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and others.
Carmen Natalia Gathering Room
The Carmen Natalia Gathering Room is the smsllest of the available rooms and like others is multiuse. It has a capacity of 50 people.
Juan Bosch Auditorium
In the western wing is the Juan Bosch Auditorium with the capacity of accommodating 394 people. Juan Bosch was a well known Dominican author, poet, and politician. He was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic from a Spanish father and a Puerto Rican mother.
The Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library offers the following services. These services are given with a kind and respectful treatment to users. In addition, it can count on the reliability if technicians and the other personnel of the library.
A service available to the general public and researchers. It includes yearbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, bibliographies, etc. Also free is the advice from the library personnel. This service can be access in person, on the telephone, in email or through the portsl http://www.bnphu.gob.do.
Regulation and Lending
The bibliographic material can be borrowed within the library by users including books, brochures, and printed monographies. Over 90% of users expressed satisfaction on the staff courtesy and reliability of the information given.
It receives, catalogues, conserves, and presents all published periodicals in the Dominican Republic. This includes those that are not focused on the Dominican Republic. The material includes newspapers, magazines, brochures, laws, memories, reglaments, international treaties, and publications from international organizations. The users of the Periodicals Library revealed that it takes on average 3 working days to receive a response.
The internet services of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library includes the following:
- Digital Library
- Internet Catalog
- Ibero-American Heritage Digital Library
- Hispanic Digitalia
These services can be reached through a computer, tablet or smart phone with an internet conection. Ut doesn’t matter if the individual is in the Dominican Republic or abroad. Everything is in Spanish only.
Special Services for Researchers
This service is geared to researchers, intellectuals, and independent users or asociated to an institution. At their disposal is the entire periodical, bibliographic, electronic resources including special borrowing and library personnel advice.
Handicap People Assistance
Free of charge is the assistance towards the handicap in order for them to enjoy reading and researching, including those with visual difficulties or are blind. Baed on a trimester poll of users with a handicap the library receives a staisfaction of 90% of the users regarding the staff courtesy and reliability. The response to an inquiry can last up to 10 working days.
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) and International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
The Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library was de designated the institution authorized to grant the International Standard Serial Number o ISSN and the International Standard Book Number o ISBN for the Dominican Republic. This was done by President Hipólito Mejía. The ISSN applies to publications such as newspapers, magazines, etc. The ISBN applies to books. Without these codes a work can’t be put on sale in the Dominican Republic or in the rest of the world. On average it takes 1 working day to get a response to a request.
These public libraries have as a goal to create and encourage a reading habit, cultural and educative resourses, and without limit towards the general public’s access.
Pedro Henríquez Ureña Tribute
Every year the library hokds a tribute for Pedro Henríquez Ureña on his birthday, after whom the national library is named after. Pedro Henríquez Ureña was born on June 29, 1884 in Santo Domingo. He became well known as author of various books (he published his first one at 20 years old) and his intellectual activities. Aside from living in his native Dominican Republic, he also lived in the United States, Mexico, Spain, Cuba, and Argentina. He died in Buenos Aires on May 11, 1946.
50 Year Anniversary
In 2021 the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National Library fulfilled the first 50 years anniversary of its fiundation. Throughout the year the library celebrated the anniversary with several events.
Biblioteca Nacional en Marcha
“Biblioteca Nacional en Marcha” is the informative bulletin of the library created in 2021. Its creatiom was part of the celebrations for the 50 years anniversary of the library’s founding.