The National Library of Puerto Rico is attached to the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and it arose from the need for a public space for disseminating sources of information. In the beginning, there was no physical space set aside to establish the library, but the Puerto Rican Collection was located for some time on San Francisco Street in Old San Juan, where the General Archive was located. Later, it was moved to the Dominican Convent. It was not until 1967 that it was approved the rehabilitation of the library’s current space at 500 Ponce de León Avenue, and finally its doors opened to the public in 1973.

The National Library has a vast Puerto Rican collection, in addition to an outstanding general collection in the areas of the humanities, anthropology, sociology and literature. Like all national libraries, it provides witness to the Puerto Rican heritage and identity, supporting a large historical and cultural wealth of information that serves as a source for all.

In the process of selecting materials and documents to catalog, priority is given to everything published in Puerto Rico. Also included are publications by Puerto Ricans abroad and everything published about Puerto Rico, regardless of the language. The library has benefited from valuable donations such as the Collection of Manuscripts by Eugenio María de Hostos and Captain Richard J. Van Deusen, author of the book Porto Rico: A Caribbean Isle. The Hostos collection was donated by his son and consists of manuscripts, letters and personal objects belonging to the patriot. The Van Deusen collection was donated by historian Dr. Luis. González Vales and is exhibited in the Reference Room. The library also has a collection of rare books and books donated from the personal libraries of Ricardo Alegría, Enamorado Cuestas, Gilberto Concepción de Gracia, Samuel R. Quiñones, Juan Martínez Capó, and others.

The library is also a depository, which means it receives publications by the government, local newspapers, the most important publications in Puerto Rico, as well as magazines published in Puerto Rico, not only those of academic interest, but also on cultural, social and other topics. This magazine collection works through the Exchange and Donations Program. It receives 98 publications through exchanges with academic and cultural institutions and national libraries around the world.

Like all libraries, it also offers lending service to anyone who is a member and the books in the Circulation Collection are loaned for 15 days. It also has a program of activities that includes writing workshops, orientation, presentations of new books, conferences, etc. The Puerto Rico National Library is committed to the culture of Puerto Rico and to all those who want to research topics related to Puerto Rico.

Author: Inés Flores Forastieri
Published: January 28, 2016.

Related Entries

This post is also available in: Español


The Puerto Rico Endowment for the Humanities welcomes the constructive comments that the readers of the Encyclopedia of Puerto Rico want to make us. Of course, these comments are entirely the responsibility of their respective authors.