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1. ROYAL LIBRARY (1712-1836)


Philip V, the first Bourbon king of Spain, takes the throne.


War of the Spanish Succession. An international alliance in support of Archduke Charles of Austria and the opposition of the subjects of the former Kingdom of Aragon cause a long-drawn-out war.


Philip V creates the Royal Library with a two-fold purpose: to encourage his subjects to study, and to bring together the libraries of nobles who fled the country after fighting on the side of Charles of Austria. The passageway joining the Real Alcázar to the Monasterio de la Encarnación is chosen as the site of the new library.


The founding decree of the Royal Library is published, granted by the King on 2 January along with the first constitutions drafted by Juan Ferreras, Chief Librarian.


A Royal Decree of 26 July establishes the precedent of the Legal Deposit. This law requires anyone who finances the printing of books and papers, whether authors, printers or publishers, to deliver a bound copy of everything they print to the Royal Library.


The Royal Library publishes the "Bibliotheca Universal de la Polygraphia Española" by Cristóbal Rodríguez.


A Resolution of 11 May stipulates a period of eight days in which the Royal Library can exercise its pre-emptive right to buy from personal libraries before they go to auction. This right gives the Library a way to expand its collection, selecting works from the submitted book lists which are not in its holdings, and as it notifies the sellers of its decision quickly, it does not affect the sale of other books.


Charles III approves the Constitutions drafted by Juan de Santander, Chief Librarian, which amend those of 1716. In them, the Chief Librarian becomes the Director of the Royal Library. The librarians are considered servants of the Royal House, with the corresponding privileges. New internal rules of operation are also established for the library records, indices of the holdings by subject, etc. A Royal publishing house is founded, directed by the Chief Librarian, linking the Library's activity as a publisher to the most outstanding printers, book-binders and printmakers of the era.


The monarch is presented with new punches and dies that will contribute to the renewal of the art of printing. The Royal Library offers printers type and paper for their publications.


The Royal Publishing House is created and the publishing activity of the Royal Library moves to the new premises.


Following the Abdications of Bayonne, Joseph Bonaparte ascends to the Spanish throne.


Spanish War of Independence against the invasion of the Napoleonic forces.


Due to building work to enlarge the square in front of the Royal Palace, the Royal Library is moved to the monastery of the Trinitarios Calzados on Calle Atocha.


Return of Fernando VII and dissolution of the Cortes de Cádiz.


The Royal Library is moved again due to the claims made by the Trinitarios Calzados since the return of Fernando VII. The move begins in May, and the Library reopens in October in its new home, the Palace where the Council of the Admiralty held its sessions.


Liberal Triennium following the uprising of General Riego.


Ominous Decade. Return to absolutism and persecution of the liberals.


The Royal Library moves again, to a house belonging to the Marqués de Alcañices, near its original location on what is now Calle Arrieta, on the corner of Calle de la Bola.


Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, by decree dated 11 October, suppresses the religious communities, except those dedicated to the teaching of poor children and the assistance of elderly persons.

2. NATIONAL LIBRARY (1836-1892)


The Royal Library changes its name to the National Library (Biblioteca Nacional) and becomes the responsibility of the government.


The Provincial Scientific and Artistic Committees are created to select works from the suppressed convents, to be deposited in libraries and museums, or put up for auction. In this way, some 70,000 volumes are deposited in the Biblioteca Nacional
from Madrid-based convents affected by the disentailment.


Creation of the Diplomatic School, which would train staff to fill vacancies in the archives and public libraries where manuscripts are conserved.


Approval of the Biblioteca Nacional regulations which, among other measures, establish the call for entries and subsequent publication of the winners of the Bibliographical Awards, to be held annually by the Biblioteca Nacional.


Creation of the Corps of Archivists, Librarians and Archaeologists.


On 21 April, the Queen placed the first stone in the Palace of Museums, Archives and National Libraries on Paseo de Recoletos, the future seat of the Biblioteca Nacional. The project was carried out by architect Francisco Jareño Alarcón.


Creation of the National Archaeological Museum which will display the archaeological and numismatic objects held in the Biblioteca Nacional since its foundation.


Outbreak of the revolution, leading to the Constitutional Monarchy of Amadeo of Savoy, and after its collapse, the First Republic.


Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla, by decree dated 1 January, authorised the confiscation of archives, libraries and collections of art owned by cathedrals, councils, monasteries and military orders, through which some very valuable works came to the Biblioteca Nacional from the cathedrals of Ávila and Toledo.


Due to the slowness of work being carried out on the new building, over successive years a new book depository was built in the garden of the building occupied by the Library on Calle Arrieta.


Antonio Ruiz de Salces replaces Jareño in the management of the construction work of the new building of the Biblioteca Nacional.

3. NATIONAL LIBRARY (1892-2011)


Work ends on the Recoletos building, which would host the Latin American Exhibition commemorating the Fourth Centenary of the Discovery of America that year.


The new building is organised internally to house the archive, library and museum. The Biblioteca Nacional's holdings begin to be moved to the seven-storey iron depository in the new building.


On 16 March, the Biblioteca Nacional opens to the public in its new home. It occupies the main floor of the building, with 35 rooms and a large reading room for 320 readers.


A Royal Decree makes it compulsory to deliver a copy of all work printed in Spain to the Biblioteca Nacional.


Approval of the "State public library regulations".


Publication of the "Instructions for drafting catalogues in state public libraries".


Creation of the Biblioteca Nacional Board.


Second Spanish Republic.


The Board of Pedagogical Missions is created to disseminate Spanish culture, and the Board for Exchange and Purchase of Publications for public libraries is created to update the holdings of state public libraries.


An era of reforms begins in the Biblioteca Nacional under the management of Miguel Artigas. The Reading Room is reorganised to hold an important collection of reference works; the General Reading Room is created for students, workers and general readers. Due to the mass influx of readers, it would be moved in 1932 to a room with greater capacity in the ground floor of the building, with a direct entrance from the garden, which was officially opened by the President of the Republic, Alcalá Zamora.


It is established that the Biblioteca Nacional should be directed by a member of the Corps of Archivists, Librarians and Archaeologists.


The second International Congress of Libraries and Bibliography is held in Madrid, in which José Ortega and Gasset delivered his famous lecture on "The Mission of the Librarian".


The Ministry of Public Instruction creates the Spanish Book Institute.


During the Civil War nearly 500,000 volumes were brought to the Biblioteca Nacional as a result of the activities of the Confiscation Committee, appointed to save artworks and books preserved in religious sites, palaces or private houses from destruction.


The Service of Defence of the National Art Heritage is created.


The Directorate General of Archives and Libraries is created.


By Order of 29 July, the bibliographic decimal system is implemented for classifying the holdings of state public libraries.


The loan service is regulated, distinguishing between direct loans to readers, from which the Biblioteca Nacional is excluded, and inter-library loans.


The second edition of the "Instructions for drafting of the alphabetical catalogue of authors and anonymous works in state public libraries" is published.


The National Newspaper Archive is created, which opens to the public in 1949.


The National Reading Service is created, with its regulations approved in 1952.


The National Documentary and Bibliographical Information Service is created.


Opening of the new headquarters of the National Historical Archive, which until this date shared the building on Recoletos with the Archaeological Museum and the Biblioteca Nacional.


The National Committee of Bibliographic Planning and Coordination is created.


The architect Luis Moya is commissioned to carry out work on the Biblioteca Nacional building, essentially to increase the capacity of its depositories, which is trebled.


Approval of the new Regulations of the Biblioteca Nacional, which again established that the Director of the Biblioteca Nacional should be a librarian of the Corps.


Approval of the Legal Deposit Regulations.


Creation of the Spanish Bibliographic Institute, which would absorb existing services such as the National Documentary and Bibliographical Information Service, the Legal Deposit and the National Committee of Bibliographic Planning and Coordination.


Law 26 of 21 June, on the defence of Documentary and Bibliographic Heritage, which created the National Documentary and Bibliographic Heritage Service.


Production of a viability study for the automation of the Biblioteca Nacional.


The Biblioteca Nacional building is declared a national Monument of Historic and Artistic Value.


The National Periodicals Library is transferred to the site on Calle de la Magdalena.


Law of Spanish Historical Heritage.


The new Cataloguing Rules are published, drafted by a committee of specialists appointed by the Ministry of Culture.


Implementation begins of the Automated System of the Biblioteca Nacional (SABINA).


By Royal Decree, the National Periodicals Library, the Spanish Biographical Institute and the Documentary and Bibliographical Heritage Centre are absorbed by the Biblioteca Nacional.


A new phase of building work begins, to improve the layout of the main building of the Biblioteca Nacional and create a second depository in Alcalá de Henares.


A new phase begins in the automation of the Biblioteca Nacional with the new ARIADNA system, which will be operational in 1991.


The Statutes of the Biblioteca Nacional as an Autonomous Body are approved by Royal Decree.


Opening of the BNE building in Alcala de Henares, with six towers containing more than 250 kilometres of shelving. The same year, the Library received its first twenty laptop computers.


On 17 October the Book Museum opens. Also, more than ten thousand drawings by the architect Secondino Zuazo are donated by his heirs.


The first BNE website becomes operational on 3 May.


The Alcalá de Henares building is extended with a second depository, with the possibility of housing more than fifteen million documents.


The Electronic Periodicals Library (Hemeroteca Digital) and Hispanic Digital Library are put into operation.


A Royal Order of 30 October approves the current BNE Statutes.


On 30 July, the Official State Bulletin publishes the Legal Deposit Act, which includes electronic documents in any medium permitted by current technology and which are not freely accessible via the Internet, and trusted or certified websites, whose content may vary over time and which may be copied at any given time. The exhibition Biblioteca Nacional de España. 300 años haciendo historia opens on 12 December.