Mexico City has a wide selection of spectacular bookstores for all of your book buying needs, but what about your book borrowing ones? Luckily, the Mexican capital boasts a wide selection of libraries from which you can take your pick. Whether you’re looking to ogle over centuries old texts or soak up modernist architecture, Mexico City has a library for everyone; here are the seven most impressive.
Why not start off with the city’s most well-known and architecturally remarkable library? Designed by Alberto Kalach, this library is famed for its suspended bookshelves that hold around 106,000 titles and has been pleasing visitors since it opened in 2006. Other key features include the huge whale skeleton that hangs in the central passageway and the labyrinthine garden. Biblioteca Vasconcelos may not have an English language section, but it’s easily one of the best libraries in the city.
UNAM’s Biblioteca Central is housed in an iconic building covered with eye catching, instantly recognizable Juan O’Gorman mosaics that recount the history of Mexico. As it’s a university library situated quite appropriately in UNAM’s Ciudad Universitaria, you can find a number of general interest and specialist texts that cover all of the main disciplines, including finance, music and literature. First opened in 1956, it now has over 600,000 documents, archives and books.
Located just behind the Ciudadela in Mexico City, the Biblioteca de México is the main public library in the city and was first inaugurated in 1946. With over 250,000 volumes, this vast edifice also plays host to five individual, personal libraries named after famed Mexican writers including Carlos Monsiváis and Antonio Castro Leal. Aside from the ‘standard’ book collection, the Biblioteca de México also houses a braille library for the visually impaired and hosts expositions and functions.
This modern library specializes in English language books, making it the perfect spot to drop by if you don’t speak Spanish or are learning English. Established in 1983, Anglo Library is the country’s largest English-language library and has a wide selection of titles for even the most avid reader to choose from. From their inauguration to the present day, they’ve given library cards to around 3,500 members. Why not be the 3501st?
Often side-lined in favor of the aforementioned Biblioteca Central, this second UNAM library, Biblioteca Nacional de México, is a gem. In addition to housing more than 1,250,000 books and documents (including some of the oldest and rarest in the world), it also boasts the original copy of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo and manuscripts from Benito Juárez and Doctor Atl. Originally founded in 1867, the architecture is almost as astounding as the literary collections housed there.
Stunning from the outside and boasting a broad selection of titles (and murals) on the inside, including an impressive collection of 18th century newspapers and over 2,000 examples from the 19th century, the Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada is housed in a true masterpiece of baroque architecture. Aside from being a must-visit for architecture and newspaper buffs, there’s also an added historical appeal to this library — it has the 1824 Constitución de la República in its collection.
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We round off our guide to Mexico City’s most impressive libraries with this tiny but worthy entry: Aeromoto. Situated in the Zona Rosa of the city, it specializes in contemporary art titles, meaning you can borrow not buy — and save some money on the hefty price tag that these types of books often come with! Only members can take the books away from Aeromoto to peruse at home, but anyone can wander in and browse the titles at leisure.