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The Palafox Library, Puebla, Mexico Blessed Juan de Palafox y Mendoza was the Bishop of Puebla (1640−1655), and the interim Archbishop of Mexico (1640−1642). The origins of the Palafox Library, in …More
The Palafox Library, Puebla, Mexico
Blessed Juan de Palafox y Mendoza was the Bishop of Puebla (1640−1655), and the interim Archbishop of Mexico (1640−1642).
The origins of the Palafox Library, in Puebla, Mexico, considered to be the first public library in the American continent, date back to 1646 when a personal collection of approximately 5,000 volumes was contributed to the Colegio de San Juan y San Pedro by Bishop Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. In 1773, Bishop Don Francisco Fabian y Fuero ordered the construction of the Palafox Library, or Palafoxiana Library, in Puebla's historic center, to house Bishop Palafox's donation. The walls of the 43-m long library were fitted with two tiers of bookshelves made of cedar, ayacahuite pine, and coloyote wood. These last two have the property of moisture absorption, which is important for the conservation of books. The western wall displays a beautiful golden retablo featuring the Madonna of Trapani, Sicily, attributed to the 14th-century Italian sculptor Nino Pisano. Throughout the colonial period, large quantities of prints and manuscripts were donated by other bishops, religious institutions and private individuals, and the library grew to rival the finest libraries of 18th-century Europe. In the 19th century, the library's collection grew to 41,000 volumes, requiring a third tier of bookshelves.
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