Bernardino Rivadavia Asociation – Popular Library

ABR-BP is a non-profit organization. It was established on 16 July 1882 by a group of idealist and committed neighbours -both Argentinians and foreigners residing in the city- most of whom were politicians and professionals:Eliseo Casanova, Daniel Aguirre, Felipe Caronti and his sons Juan and Luis, Octavio Zapiola, Angel Brunel, and Daniel Aguirre, among others.

The Library is run by a Committee made up of 14 members elected to an Assembly. These members hold their postsad honorem

Currently, there are 13 employees: the Librarian Director, three assistant librarians, and personnel in charge of the Reading Rooms, office work and maintenance.

As is the case with all popular libraries in Argentina, ABR-BP is sustained by membership dues. At present, the Library has 2,800 members: adults, young adults, and children. Non-member users pay every time they access the collections in the Reading Rooms. Government support only pays for a portion of the Library’s expenses: ABR-BP receives sporadically small subsidies from CONABIP (Comisión Nacional de Bibliotecas Populares) and Dirección de Bibliotecas de la provincial de Buenos Aires.

Caronti’s legacy

Luis Caronti, son of Filippo and Adela Casati, was born on September 9, 1858 in Bahía Blanca. He was one of the thirty nine signatories of the Founding Charter. His legacy made possible the construction of the building, which was inaugurated in 1930. He assimilated from his father, an upstanding republican, the love for freedom; from his mother, the taste for art. Philanthropist, defender of public education, he served in the military, practiced journalism and was an esteemed politician.

At the age of fifteen he was already working for the City Hall.

His military career began in 1870, when he joined the Infantry as a volunteer. He then contributed to the foundation of settlements and discoveries of places in the south of the country.

He constantly took part in democratic institutions. His public career includes many government positions: the Municipal Secretary, the School board Presidency, the City´s Mayoralty and a Legislative Office. In 1885, while a Chairman of the National Party, he founded with Colonel Daniel Cerri the newspaper El Argentino, whose original copies were microfilmed and are kept now in the Newspapers and Periodicals Division.

Without having any direct inheritor, before dying in 1917 he bequeathed part of his fortune to the local public hospital (Hospital Municipal de Bahía Blanca) and the ABR-BP.

About the building

The building is located on the so-called Historic Downtown, where it was settled the Fortaleza Protectora Argentina, and it shares the foundational square with public and privately owned buildings distinguished by historical as well as architectural characteristics.

It is considered to be the first national building projected specially to be a Library. Put out to tender, it was Arq. Ernesto Guiraud who won the contract and the construction was granted to Justo Querel.

It was inaugurated on August 15, 1930.

It was declared Architectural Municipal Heritage (1992), Provincial (2007) and Historical Monument and Cultural Heritage of the Nation (2008).

The building is a fine example of the Luis XVI style. From his façade, crowned with a triangular frontis, up to the interiors it demonstrates the harmonious architectural composition and the embellished décor of all of its rooms.

Commodate of the adjoining building

In 1995, due to the space of storage of bibliography was full, a commodate contract allowed us to take up the adjoining building, property of the National Direction of Architecture, which we use now as a second warehouse where we keep books and magazines.


Most of the furniture bought for the inauguration of the building (1930) was acquired from the Buenos Aires-based company Nordiska Kompaniet S.A. It is still in use and in good condition. You can find, for example, an outstanding Florentine table in the Sala Ciriaca Palau de Laspiur (Librarian Director Office).

Stained glass windows

They were originally made by the Buenos Aires-based company Thomas and restored by Subirats Co. in 2011/12 (thanks to government subsidies).

Bibliographical heritage

The collections contain approximately 196.100 items (including books, newspapers, fascicles, electronic resources and maps) that are housed in four specific rooms: the Children’s Room, the Youth Room, the Newspapers and Periodicals Division, and the Basement Storing Facilities.

In April 2007 ABR-BP received a donation of approximately 15.000 books from a private collection, specialized in 19th Century Argentine and Latin-American History and Literature. The legacy belonged to Félix Weinberg, Ph. D. in History, and it is in process of cataloging and classification. Previously, ABR-BP had been received the collection of his late wife Beatriz Fontanella, Ph. D. in Linguistics, which is available for consultation.

The Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) can be searched online at or This work is the result of a process of computerization that began with the migration of bibliographic records already loaded during 1995-2007 towards the international standard format MARC21, which is used by libraries worldwide. The Catalis software that uses that format was developed by B.S. Fernando Gomez, from the Institute of Mathematics of Bahía Blanca (INMABB), a research center subordinated to CONICET. This software that librarians use for cataloging complements the OPACMARC, which is used to consult the catalog by the general public. Both Catalis and OPACMARC are known as free and open-source software.

Requesting materials

It is possible to access library catalogs through computers in the Sala Daniel Aguirre (Daniel Aguirre Room). You must fill out a request form (including author name, book title, accession number and your own personal information) and then submit the form to any Library staff member.


Books are classified in two different ways. Formerly, under Brunet classification system: the Library previously had given books permanent shelf locations that were related to the order of acquisition rather than topic. Nowadays, books are organized under Dewey Decimal classification system: the Library assigns a classification number that unambiguously locates a particular volume in a position relative to other books in the library, on the basis of its subject. At the ABR-BP both systems still coexist.

Building Tour

Warehouse: it is where most of the items are stored, including books, newspapers, magazines, microfilm editions of historic local publications and maps. The surface of this area is equivalent to the entire ground floor.
Art Collection: this division holds 350 paintings, some by well-known artists such as Pettorutti, Carnaccini, Massera, Pronsato and others. The institution boasts of having pictures of all the local artists, at least since 1930. It also has a smaller collection of thirty sculptures, among which «Las leonas» (The lions) by Maximilien Fiot and «Labrador» (Ploughman) are included (they´re both located in Sala Sarmiento).
Newspapers and Periodicals Division: it keeps more than 100 titles published in Bahía Blanca since 1883 of all political biases, which constitutes a unique testimony of the development of social and political ideas of the south of Buenos Aires Province. This division also holds national and international titles. In 2004 Harvard University granted the Library a subsidy which allowed all 19th-century newspapers from Bahía Blanca to be microfilmed. Of special interest is the copy of La Legione Agricola, the first local periodical written in Italian with news about Fortaleza Protectora Argentina, Bahía Blanca’s original name. The Newspapers and Periodicals Division is regularly visited by national and foreign researchers.
Map Collection: this division holds a unique, and therefore valuable, cartographic material, specially the one referred to the foundational period of Bahía Blanca. In 2013, within a volunteer project, MSc. in Geography Graciela Benedetti, geographers and cartographers of the Department of Geography and Tourism of the Universidad Nacional del Sur cataloged and classified 163 maps, which were placed then in file cabinets designed specifically for that purpose. It is possible to search the collection using the online catalog.
Showroom: closed since 2007, it reopened in august 2013, thanks to subsidies provided by the City Hall, both Chambers of Deputies and Senators of the Provincia de Buenos Aires and local companies.

Ground Floor
Entrance Hall and Gallery: the staircase at the front door leads to the entrance hall and gallery where most of the art exhibitions are held: visitors can appreciate paintings, photographs and sculptures presented by local artists as well as items from the Library’s own collections.
Administrative Office: for memberships, payments and bookings of the Gallery and the Auditorium.
Meeting Room: this is where the Association Committee members regularly meet.
Youth Room: it has more than 7,000 books. Among literary works, this division possesses encyclopedias, dictionaries and videos. It is a room where you can study in groups and cultural extension activities are performed.
Film and Video Collection: among the division´s holdings, there are instructional videos, documentaries on various topics, movies in both VHS and DVD formats and also e-books.
Children’s Room: it houses over 7,000 books. This division offers a wide range of children´s literature, from classical to contemporary titles as well as textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries and videos. By an agreement with the Biblioteca Nacional del Maestro (National Teacher´s Library) in this room is available the Biblioteca Pedagógica (Pedagogical Library).
Sala Sarmiento (Main Reading Room): the Founders of the ABR were Masons and have left the signal embodied in a beautiful stained glass with symbols of Freemasonry: the compass, the protractor and the plumb-bob. In this room it can be seen the Nordiska furniture and part of the sculptural and pictorial heritage.

First floor
Luis C. Caronti Auditorioum: It is a harmonious concert hall with a seating capacity for 397 guests. Preserving the ideals of perfect acoustics of its origins, it has been upgraded adapting its conditions to current technological and security standards. It also features a Bechstein baby grand piano.
Sala Roberto J. Payró: It is a warm meeting venue with a 50-person capacity. This multipurpose space can be utilized for a variety of events, such as courses, workshops, book presentations and business gatherings. It features modern air-conditioning equipment, a multimedia projector, DVD players, microphones, soundboard and a retractable screen.
Sala Ciriaca Palau de Laspiur: The room is named in honor of former first bahiense local teacher. Since 2007, it is used as the Librarian Director office.

Contacting us

Our services

Newspapers and Periodicals Division
Film and Video Collection
Map Collection
Pedagogical Library – National Teacher´s Library
Computers with Internet access and JAWS software for blind and visually impaired people

Visiting us

For education institutions, group guided tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays by morning and afternoon.
Library hours: Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 9:00 to 12:00 PM. The Newspaper and Periodicals Division regular hours are 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Ask a question/ report a problem:
Av. Colón 31 (8000) Bahía Blanca
Tel + 54 0291 4554055 – Fax + 54 0291 4559677

Trad.:  Lucas Ruppel

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