MADRID, SPAIN. Do you have exams coming up and need somewhere to study? Do you find yourself going to Starbucks all the time and maybe you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city cafés? The Biblioteca Nacional de España, also known as the National Library of Spain, is not only a research facility, but it is also the perfect place to lose yourself in your books.

The Biblioteca Nacional de España, in short BNE, is the largest public library in Spain and one of the largest libraries in the world. Its large rooms and long tables welcome groups of friends, students, professors, or anyone who wants to work on his or her research.

The library was founded by King Philip V in 1712. It was then made mandatory for all printers to send a copy of every book printed in Spain to the BNE, making this library the center and heart of Spanish history, art, literature, language, and culture.

When studying abroad in Spain, some of your courses may require you to dig through Spanish culture, making the National Library the perfect place to work on your research. Their extensive collection and historical selection makes this library famous for its research efforts.

Manuscripts, personal archives, journals and periodicals all form part of the unique and one-of-a-kind collection housed by the library. However, some of the building’s most unique treasures are its Cervantes collection, which contains 26 editions of Don Quixote, prints by Francisco de Goya, and original drawings by Velázquez and Murillo. Also unique to the library is its cultural exhibitions, lectures and presentations, as well as its very own museum.

The general public has admission to the museum, library exhibitions and general information service, as long as a national identity card or passport is presented. In order to gain access to the rest of the services and facilities provided by the Library, other types of carnés, or access cards, are required.

There are three types of carnés which permit access depending on the interest of the card holder:

  1. The Carné de Lector permits the holder to use original books, newspapers and other similar materials that were published after 1st January 1958, but these books cannot be taken home. Furthermore, much of the reading material in the library will be restricted to these cardholders.

Documentation needed includes a form of ID (licence, passport, residence card) and for under aged students with 16 and 17 years of age, a written and signed letter is needed from an education center with logo and stamp.

  1. The Carné de Investigador is aimed at those that want to use the library materials for research purposes and thus require a specific certificate of accreditation. The card is aimed at certain members of society including authors, academics, librarians, university students etc. but the required certificate is absolutely essential.

Documentation needed includes a form of ID (passport, licence, residence card) and a document that states and validates your investigation condition. This includes doctors, graduate students, members of academic or educational institutions, scientists, writers or artists.

Note: those that hold the Carné de Lector can ask for permission to have the same level of access as researchers (or Carné de Investigador) but they must have a valid reason with suitable verification.

  1. The Carné de Documentación Bibliotecaria is for professionals that work in areas related to museums, libraries and archives although pupils studying these professions may also have access. The level of access is the same as those with a Carné de Lector except that these cardholders may take the books home if required from the specific room of Library Documentation.

Documentation required includes a form of ID, document that states your profession, and a document that validates your permanent residence.

All cards issued by the Biblioteca Nacional de España are valid for 3 years.

For more details on these carnés or to obtain an online application please visit or ask at reception.

The Biblioteca Nacional de España is located in Paseo de Recoletos, 20-22 and it is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am- 2:00 pm.