The most hidden treasure of the Bank of Spain | Fortune

The most hidden treasure of the Bank of Spain | Fortune



Behind the walls of the historic and monumental building that welcomes Bank of Spain, in Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles, hides the most unknown treasure of the institution: its library, with more than 335,000 volumes available to any citizen or institution that wishes to consult them. The origin of this fund goes back to the National Bank of San Carlos, entity created in 1782 by Carlos III, when it begins to accumulate bibliography on economy and finance for internal consultation. This was until the decade of the eighties, when the Bank of Spain study service decided to promote and share all the knowledge accumulated throughout this time.

The imposing and cozy space of 1,500 square meters, although only 500 are for public use, it is frequented by researchers, doctorate students and even by some other curious person who wants to delve into some subject of economics, a discipline from which 80% of the volumes come, from social sciences or from straight. Because few people know that the library is open to the general public: 90% of the users are employees of the bank, in need of some specific consultation, and the rest comes from outside those walls. "It is a great place to work, and except for books of special value, all others can be consulted by anyone who wants it. There are few places like this ", explains the head of the library since 2013, Joaquín Selgas.

The library has a selection of more than 5,600 novelties, including monographs, periodicals and documents in any format, as well as subscriptions to databases, e-books and specialized information portals from around the world in the field of economics.

In the category of special value, which can be consulted by researchers upon request, 16,654 volumes published between the 15th and 19th centuries are included, and constitute an outstanding part of the collection, of interest for the study of the history of the economy and the right in Spain. Among these old and incunable books there is a compilation, although it has no edition date, of the Catholic Kings legislation on taxes, a manuscript on the agreement of two Spanish municipalities on the use of a mill, or the books of accounts of the Crown of Aragon of the XV century. It also allows the approach to issues such as the regulation of economic activities, through a collection of about 3,000 royal and pragmatic cards of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries; to the socioeconomic thinking of the School of Salamanca and the Enlightenment; to the history of the Bank of Spain and the Spanish financial system; to trade and relations with America; or to the geography and travel works in Spain ….

Each year the library fund is increased by some 2,200 works, around 1,000 on paper and the rest in electronic format. "Every time we reduce paper purchases and bet more on the electronic version, since it is in this medium that most of the research carried out is published. The monographs on paper are disappearing, "adds Selgas, who details that the books most in demand are those that deal with the financial and banking system, regulation, mathematical methods, economic history and accounting, although lately, "We observed interest in the topics related to big data and with the fintech", adds Selgas, who details that in 2018 175,000 euros were allocated for the expansion of the collection, and advances that the budget for 2019 goes in the same line, with the focus on the electronic edition.

In figures

New reading places. Two years ago, the Banco de España began remodeling the library, which until then had eight reading places, and which has now been expanded to 24 seats.

Visits 90% of the consultations are carried out by the staff of the institution, although in 2018 they received 500 external visits. 11 people work in the library.

Languages. 80% of the copies are in English, there are also collections in French, in German and few, but there are, in Italian.

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