The history of Catalan bibliography cannot be understood without the task of acquisition, preservation and dissemination of collections with immense literary, artistic and scientific interest that the Biblioteca de Catalunya (The National Library of Catalonia) has held since its creation in 1907.
Notable amongst its holdings of approximately three million items, are the collection of nearly 20,000 manuscripts and 500,000 letters. There we find medieval marvels such as the Homilies d'Organyà (13th century), the Llibre de l'orde de cavalleria (Book of the Order of Chivalry), by Ramon Llull and the four great Chronicles; or seminal modern manuscripts such as the Oda a la Pàtria (Ode to the Motherland), by Bonaventura C. Aribau (1833), or L'Atlàntida, by Jacint Verdaguer.
Also notable are the newspaper and sound archives, as well as the graphic collections, with prints, drawings, maps and photographs, from the 16th century until the present day.
The Biblioteca de Catalunya also manages the Frederic Marès Book Museum, consisting of more than 1,500 documents that the collector gave to the institution. And also the Joan Maragall Archive, housed in the former residence of the poet.
From 1939, the Biblioteca de Catalunya has been based in the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu in Barcelona, one of the most important complexes of 15th century Gothic civil architecture in Catalonia. As a result of the merger of several medieval hospitals in Barcelona, it was for many centuries the largest health facility in the country.
- Guided tours are offered, both for the general public and for schools, to discover the Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu.
- The programme of activities includes concerts, theatre, exhibitions and presentations.