The Smallest Library in the World

Tourism Index

cambia a español  Español

One of our greatest charms is usually overlooked by the visitor who arrives in the main square of our village. In a corner there, you can see a ceramic sign reading “Biblioteca Municipal” (Public Library). Nothing outstanding about it, except for the rustic grace of the façade. What the visitor ignores is that behind those closed doors, hidden by two ordinary windows and crowned by an elegant little balcony, you are contemplating nothing less than the world’s smallest public library.

It is such a small space, that when they mounted the door it was impossible to open it, and they had to design a double-leaf door so as to open just half of it at a time. Even so, when you open a half-door, it hits the opposite wall and it is necessary to go in and close it from behind so as to gain entry to the hidden space on the other side. The same narrow opening you can see “upstairs” behind the balcony, is what you get “downstairs” behind the door.

The two little windows shed light on two narrow side shelves, and that is the only usable part of the building. If you had to get in accompanied by a civil servant from the town hall, both shelves and two people were enough to fill the whole premises. If none was too fat.

But the most authentic about this is that such a tiny public building was not built like this in order to enter the world book of records. Neither was it built just to nicely fill an uncomfortable gap in the construction. It really and truly was built to be, and it was for years, the public library of Peraleda.

Again, it is not that this village had reading in such a low esteem as to have enough with 20 books for everyone. The situation is easier to understand if we give some historical background.

After the Civil War, Peraleda had a mythical mayor, Lucio García, who devoted many of his efforts to rebuild the village and even improve it, creating beautiful corners and important new facilities. One of the beautified areas was the main square.

Our square was kind of… yes, square, and partly porticoed, sporting wooden columns on the west side. The mayor decided to improve the arcades and make stone columns. He also extended the portico to the east side, where the library is now. But right where the library is today there was a house sticking inside the square and partly closing the entrance on that side. You can see it in the next picture behind the little lorry.


The same house as seen from a front view before the porch was added.

In order to open the square on that side, they expropriated part of that house and then evened the façade with the rest of the porch. In the process, a little mismatch appeared, barely good enough for a built-in closet. Someone had the happy idea of turning that little space into a public library, and that is how that lonesome corner became a library.

Back then, the government had started a kind of mobile library plan, with lorries full of books going up and down each Spanish province visiting every village periodically. At every stop, they took back books and left new ones behind, so everywhere public books were constantly renovated and people had always new readings to choose from.

When a new load of books arrived in Peraleda, instead of storing them inside a hidden room in the back of the town hall, they were displayed in the shelves of this tiny peculiar public library. When someone came for a new book, they accompanied them to this library and they could choose one of the new books available. So this little space was truly acting as a library and offering, in its little room, lots and lots of ever changing stories to read. At the same time, our mayor succeeded in providing great visibility to this cultural project that could have easily been ignored if hidden inside some inner room, but was impossible to miss every time people in Peraleda crossed the square and proudly read that big sign, “Public Library”.




Escrito por Angel Castaño

Apóyanos con tu firma para salvar el Dolmen de Guadalperal y también para salvar el retablo esgrafiado de Peraleda.

© Proyecto Raíces de Peralêda, 2017 (Peraleda de la Mata, Cáceres, España) - Privacidad y Cookies-ContactoDonate with PayPal
Navegando por este portal, usted acepta nuestra Política de Cookies.