The Hispanic Digital Library is the digital library of the Biblioteca Nacional de España. It provides access free of charge to thousands of digitised documents, including books printed from the 15th to the 20th century, manuscripts, drawings, engravings, pamphlets, posters, photographs, maps, atlases, music scores, historic newspapers and magazines and audio recordings.

Created in 2008, the objectives of the Hispanic Digital Library are:

  • To disseminate Spanish cultural heritage while assuring that our cultural legacy is protected and safeguarded. 
  • To fulfil the commitment to the European Union to help create the future European Digital Library, which will offer unique, multilingual online access to holdings in European cultural institutions. 
  • To become an essential tool for fostering research into our culture by enabling scholars and hispanicists to examine digitised holdings from anywhere in the world. 
  • To provide a tool for opening up partnerships with other Spanish and Latin American libraries. 


The HDL was initially co-funded by RED.ES, a public corporate entity belonging to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Subsequently, the agreement signed with the private sector enterprise Telefónica would drive the project forward and provide the necessary financial support to launch the BNE's systematic mass scanning project.

When it was launched in January 2008, the HDL had around 10,000 works selected by experts in different subjects as a cross-section of the bibliographic and documentary heritage of the BNE. Today it comprises more than 222.000 titles (as of January of 2020) works on all topics in all documentary forms, freely accessible from anywhere in the world.

Related information


Imagen del proceso de digitalización

Systematic digitisation is today more than just a project; it is a process that affects almost all Library departments and areas.

Today, the whole process, from deciding which works to digitise to making these accessible from the portal, has been implemented in nearly all the different services of the Library.

The process of defining and streamlining the procedure for scanning and digitising thousands of pages each day has been ongoing since the launch of the project. This has called for an unprecedented effort to coordinate and organise the work of all departments involved and to establish and continuously improve the quality standards applied to selecting the materials and the technical architecture that are the backbone of the entire process.

Broadly speaking, this process comprises:

  • Selecting materials, in accordance with different criteria; 
  • Selecting the most suitable copy for scanning, again in keeping with different principles of conservation and suitability; 
  • Updating cataloguing rules, to adapt them to current standards; 
  • Digitising and generating master and derivative copies, and metadata and image quality control; 
  • Uploading to the digital object manager, indexing in the portal search engine and incorporating the finished document into the Hispanic Digital Library interface; 
  •  Automatic marking on Symphony, the Library's library management system, which establishes the link between the bibliographic record in the catalogue and the scanned document in the Hispanic Digital Library.

Once in the portal, the documents are organised according to three basic access methods, in addition to the traditional simple and advanced searches:

  • Access by topic, in keeping with the Universal Decimal Classification structure, 
  • By type of material
  • Featured collections, due to their relevance, interest, attraction or importance.


Since it was launched in 2008, more and more users are using the Hispanic Digital Library as a resource for searching and retrieving the digitised heritage of the Biblioteca Nacional de España.

With an average 158,000 visits per month in 2020 and around 105,200 users (monthly average) -a considerable increase from last year-, we analyse users' search and browsing habits, in other words, how they experience our portal, to assess and improve the tool on a daily basis.

Some BDH usage figures for the last three years (source: Google Analytics):


Titles available on the portal (May, 2021):
Printed monographs 92.234
Manuscripts 24.863
Drawings, Engravings, and Photographs 46.612
Music scores 31.280
Cartographic material 12.032
Sound records 20.122
Newspapers and Magazines 2.033


In accordance with its guiding principles, the Hispanic Digital Library is engaged in partnership projects on both a national and international level.

Since 2008, it has entered into numerous partnership agreements and projects with public and private institutions (universities, foundations, professional associations, etc.). Some of the initiatives currently ongoing are:

National Cooperation


The digital collection directory and builder of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. It comprises archive, library and museum collections, including the digital collection of the Hispanic Digital Library.


A print-to-order service. This enables users to order and buy print copies of some of the most important and attractive works in the Hispanic Digital Library, directly from the portal.

Casa del Libro

Casa del Libro

Some emblematic works in the Hispanic Digital Library are now available free of charge on the Casa del Libro website and on TAGUS reading applications.

Interactive books

Under its collaboration agreement with Telefónica, Don Quixote and Leonardo da Vinci's Madrid Codices became interactive works in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Furthermore, the digital versions of these works include a large volume of multimedia material and functionalities.


BNEscolar is the proposal of the National Library of Spain, in collaboration with, to promote the presence and use of the library’s heritage in teaching and school learning.

The project involves the creation of a platform of services and resources that take advantage of technology, new digital and collaborative narratives and the needs of current school curricula, to bring the documentary heritage to the classroom and reflect on the importance of preserving the historical and cultural memory.

International Cooperation


The access point to millions of digital resources from archives, museums, libraries and other cultural institutions from all over Europe. It is currently the most important project for disseminating Europe's cultural heritage.

World Digital Library

Sponsored by the Unesco, it brings together and provides access to emblematic digital contents that are representative of cultures from all over the world. It includes some of the best works in the Hispanic Digital Library.

Digital Library of Ibero-American Heritage (BDPI)

The BDPI gathers digital resources from Ibero-American national libraries (belonging to ABINIA) into a single portal. It includes all types of materials, accessible through a multilingual portal designed and developed by the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the project co-ordinator. 

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