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National Library of Rio de Janeiro

National Library

The National Library of Brazil, also called the National Library of Rio de Janeiro, is the repository of bibliographic and documentary heritage of Brazil, considered by UNESCO as the seventh national library in the world and also the largest library in Latin America. Among her many responsibilities are the preservation, updating a collection of more than eight million pieces, which began with the arrival of the Royal Library of Portugal to Brazil and is growing every day, through donations, acquisitions and the legal deposit.


The beginning of the National Library starts together with the arrival of the Royal family of Portugal in Brazil. When Queen Mary I arrives in Rio in1808 her son Prince Regent John houses the collection of manuscripts, books, maps, prints, coins and medals that were brought along from Portugal in a part of the Hospital of the Convent of the Third Order of Carmel, across the building where the Royal family was residing.
On October 29th. 1810, the Prince Regent instates the decree that served as the base for the Royal Library, however the library was not open to the public until 1814. On November 12th 1822 the imperial government decreed that one copy of all documents produced by government publishers be sent to the Library. This legislation was reinforced by another Decree on December 20th  1907, which required that one or more copies of all materials published in Brazil should be deposited.
The cornerstone for the Library's building was laid on August 15th  1905 and the building was opened on October 29th 1910. Constructed in an eclectic style with neoclassical elements, the National Library forms, together with the Municipal Theater and the National Fine Arts Museum, the “triangle of culture” in Cinelandia Square in the center of Rio de Janeiro. The Library’s main hall has two murals by the American painter George Biddle and two bronze bas-reliefs by his wife, Helena Sardeau Biddle, presented on December 8, 1942 as gifts from the government of the United States of America to Brazil.

Facts and Figures:

amongst the collections present in the library:

  • Barbosa Machado Collection
  • Bonde da Barca Collection or Araujense Collection.
  • De Angelis Collection.
  • Salvador de Mendonça Collection.
  • José Antônio Marques Collection.
  • Teresa Cristina Maria Collection.
  • Wallenstein Collection.
  • Benedito Otoni Collection.
  • Casa dos Contos Archive.
  • Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira Collection.
  • Library Abraão de Carvalho.
  • Evangeliario.
  • Livro de Horas.
  • Codexes concerning colonial administration.
  • Mapa dos confins do Brasil com as terras da coroa de Espanha na América Meridional, 1749.
  • Mogúncia Bible.
  • Grammatica da Língua Portuguesa com os Mandamentos da Santa Madre Igreja.
  • Os Lusíadas.
  • Cultura e opulência do Brasil por suas drogas e minas...
  • Relação da entrada que fez o excelentíssimo e reverendíssimo senhor D. Fr. Antonio do Desterro Malheyro, Bispo do Rio de Janeiro em o primeiro dia deste presente anno de 1749.
  • Messiah an oratorio in scores as it was originaly perfor'd de Handel.
  • Il dissoluto punto o sia Don Giovann.
  • Correio Brasiliense.


National Library of Rio de Janeiro

Av. Rio Branco, 219 Rio de Janeiro RJ 20040-008 Brazil

Latitude: -22.909671
Longitude: -43.175352
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