THE EPISCOPAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE SEMINARY OF BARCELONA
The Episcopal Public Library of the Seminary of Barcelona (Biblioteca Pública Episcopal del Seminario de Barcelona, BPEB), located in the building of the Seminary of Barcelona, is the city’s oldest library. It was founded in 1772 when the Library of the Conciliar Seminary (or College of the Bishop) merged with the College of Our Lady of Bethlehem of the Jesuits, and was at the time located in the Ramblas.
On the 25th of June of 1775, Felix Amat i de Palou (1750-1824) was named by royal appointment as the first librarian of the Episcopal Public Library of Barcelona, which opened to the public in January of 1776. Between 1785 and 1803 he wrote the Història Eclesiàstica (Ecclesiastical History) and undertook the first inventory of all the books of the library, an inventory that in 1985 was examined in depth and compared with the actual catalogue.
The successor to Felix Amat i de Palou was his nephew Ignasi Torres i Amat (1768-1811), who conceived of and initiated the famous Diccionario de escritores catalanes (“Dictionary of Catalan Authors”).
The vitality of the BPEB during the period that could be known as the “generation of the Torres Amat”-- Amat i de Palou, Ignasi Torres i Amat, and later the latter’s brother Felix Torres i Amat (1772-1847) is made manifest not only by the publication of the Dictionary, but also by the instalment in the same library of a room dedicated to Catalan authors. The collection was completed by Felix Torres i Amat in collaboration with the librarian Ignasi Palaudàries and the Bishop of Barcelona Pau Sichar (1747-1831).
In 1882, the Seminary moved from the Ramblas to the new edifice built on Diputació Street.
The holding of the BPEB were packed up and transported to the basement of the new building where they remained as such for fifteen years until, thanks to Cardinal Casañas, the library was installed in the place that it currently occupies.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the books were housed for safekeeping in the Library of Cataluña (Biblioteca de Cataluña). Yet despite this measure, some important collections were burned. After returning to the Seminary, the BPEB was installed on the ground floor of the building and was re-catalogued by Jaume Barrera i Escudero (1879-1942). The librarians Àngel Fàbrega i Grau and Antoni Briva i Mirabent (1926-1994) returned the library to the first floor.
Dr. J. M. Martí Bonet, appointed librarian in 1972 with the support of the Faculty of Theology of Cataluña and the Seminary, organized the cataloguing of the 400,000 books, short tracts, and treatises that the BPEB currently holds.
The BPEB belongs to the Archdiocese of Barcelona (Archidiócesis de Barcelona), forms a part of the network of libraries of the University Ramon Llull (Universidad Ramon Llull), and collaborates with the Catalogue of the Bibliographic Patrimony of Cataluña (Catálogo del Patrimonio Bibliográfico de Cataluña).
The catalogue is now accessible via the Internet.