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Date: July 6, 2022 4:27 am

Five butterflies, minted in bronze, surround the bust of Gabriel García Márquez, like the yellow butterflies that haunted Mauricio Babylonia in One Hundred Years of Solitude. From the height of a shelf, a sculpture donated by various institutions in the Colombian Caribbean oversees the new library built in honor of the author of “Love in the Time of Cholera”: the García Márquez Library in Sant Martí (Barcelona), with a collection of 40,000 documents specialized in Latin American literature. Building number 40 in the Catalan capital, which also has a “multifunctional” purpose, will also house the first public radio station of the Barcelona Library Network. In honor of the fictional city that appears in various works by García Márquez, it will be called Radio Maconda.

The matte gold colors of the bust, by Colombian artist Oscar Noriega, lend a “Caribbean touch” to the library’s “Scandinavian” design, according to its director, Neus Castellano. The building, designed by architects Elena Orte and Guillermo Sevilliano (Suma Arquitectes), shows a structure dominated by wood, while large windows define the transparent character of the space. Its nearly 4,000 square meters of space was conceived as a collection of stacked books whose folds can be felt from the outside; and its versatility is distributed differently on each of the six floors.

Fragment of the new library of Garcia Marquez, located in the Sant Martí district (Barcelona)©Consuelo Bautista

In addition to the actual area for reading and viewing the bibliographic collections, the new García Márquez has an assembly hall, a kitchen space, the Antonio Herrera Associative Historical Archive, or a floor with science and technology documents. There is also a room dedicated to the comic artist Francisco Ibanes, a resident of Sant Martí and the creator of characters such as Mortadelo and Filemon, which will house some 500 titles with stories featuring his characters. “The classic image of libraries as temples of knowledge has changed,” says Ferran Burguillos, Barcelona Libraries Manager. “Now libraries are more focused on promoting culture, albeit in differentiated spaces. So, [en la Biblioteca García Márquez] We are going from the noisiest places downstairs to others where there will be separate spaces to be quieter.”

The Ephemeris Games wanted the new facility to be opened 40 years after Gabo received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982, i.e. after he lived for more than five years in the Catalan capital (from 1967 to 1975). He wasn’t the only one. The American writers’ idyll with Barcelona, ​​the city that promoted the so-called Latin American boom at the hands of literary agents such as Carmen Balcells or Seix Barral, has been constant up to the present. Therefore, the goal of the library is to promote these relationships and aim to become a “radiation center” in Barcelona, ​​a melting pot of cultures that intertwine in Latin America.

The specialized fund is decisive in this regard; but they won’t be limited to that. García Márquez will also host a series of events organized hand in hand with Casa America Catalunya. Coming soon is the celebration of KM America, a festival of Latin American literature that will bring together 22 writers from 11 countries in two locations from June 16-19, including the new García Márquez Library.

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The new library of Sant Marti, which is estimated to directly serve nearly 55,000 residents, wants to create a “new center” in the city, the library consortium has indicated. Burguillos notes that about 12 million euros were spent on the project. Its dimensions make it the third largest library in Barcelona after Jaume Fuster (Plaza Lesseps) and Ignacy Iglesias-Can Fabra (Sant Andreu).

With the opening this Saturday, the García Márquez Library also crowns one of the goals set in the library plan in 1998, when there were 18 such public spaces in the city: to put 40 facilities into use. Construction is expected to start next year on another one of the city’s big cultural projects that have been shelved since the late 20th century: the government-owned Provincial Library of Barcelona, ​​to be built on a site next to the train station from France.

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