The collections 

The General Subdirectorate for Library Coordination, with the collaboration of autonomous regions and other administrations, individuals and institutions, works to search, select and digitise collections that are part of Spain’s bibliographic heritage. Important collections of manuscripts and old prints have thus been recovered from public state libraries such as those from the monasteries of Santa María de Huerta, Santes Creus and Poblet (now, respectively, in the Public State Libraries of Soria and Tarragona), the Borbon-Lorenzana collection (now housed in the Library of Castile-La Mancha/Public State Library of Toledo), outstanding collections of old printed material from the Public State Libraries of León, Orihuela, Cádiz and Córdoba, and the spectacular Luliana collections of the Public State Library of Palma de Mallorca.

The manuscripts, incunabula and old printed material were chosen for characteristics such as their rarity, their particular bibliographic importance, their representativeness or their relation to local or historical collections of specific origins, such as, for example, the collection of printed material in the Public State Library of León.

Furthermore, important collections such as Ibero-American and Philippine collections have been added to the library, mainly from the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation) Hispanic Library and Museum of the Americas.

Another valuable collection is that pertaining to The Peninsular War, incorporated in 2008 to mark the second centenary of this conflict. These collections mainly come from the libraries of the Ministry of Defence. Within this collection there are 1,622 exceptional cartographic documents – mostly maps, plans and nautical charts – related to events or battles during The Peninsular War that come from the Army Geographic Centre, the Central Military Archive of Madrid and the Naval Museum of Madrid. This cartographic material from the early 19th century offers a glimpse of the military strategies employed, and information about many aspects of Spanish geography.

The digitisation of collections found in historical secondary schools has served as the basis for the creation of a permanent educational collection; comprised, on the one hand, of educational treatises, and on the other, of educational and learning tools such as manuals, prints, slides, notebooks, etc. All this constitutes the educational memory of several generations; a valuable source of the history of education in Spain; and a set of educational resources that are available to students and teachers alike.

Also of note are the collections from museum libraries, most of them under the umbrella of the Sub Directorate General of State Museums. Among these collections are some about very interesting topics such as that from the Sephardic Museum that houses books written in Hebrew and Ladino; the Costume Museum, with its collections about dressmaking and fashion; the archaeological collections at the National Archaeological Museum; and antiques and other decorative arts at the National Museum of Decorative Arts. The extensive collection of plays from the Golden Age housed at the National Theatre Museum is also of particular value.

The Virtual Library also offers a rich and extensive Photo Library with photographic material from various institutions such as the Foundation for Ethnography and Development of Crafts of the Canary Islands (FEDAC), the Cultural Heritage Institute of Spain (IPCE), the University of Navarre, the Camilo José Cela Galician Public Foundation (photos of Cela), the Public State Library of Pontevedra, and the Public State Library of Oviedo (permanent collection of photographs from the newspaper Región).

Other interesting collections include those on medicine and pharmacy from the Royal Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy respectively; the historical administrative collections of the National Institute of Public Administration (INAP); the scientific collections of the Royal Naval Observatory; as well as those from other libraries including collections of travel books, about astrology, and religious collections, etc. 

Technical Characteristics:

As its central cataloguing format, the BVPB works with and uploads records using the MARC21 format (, and three of its variants: marc21 for bibliographic data, for holdings data, and for authority data. Using MARC21 for holdings data, it is possible to keep the bibliographic information separate from that of the items themselves. The MARC21 for authority data allows an exhaustive check of authorised forms of people, institutions, subjects, uniform titles, etc. 

Using records in the MARC21 format, the application automatically creates a series of mappings in various formats allowing users to download the metadata of all these variants: Dublin Core, Ficha, ISBD, MODS, MARCXML, MARC label, Bibtex, Jisc, Mets, EDM, SKOS, ALTO, etc.

The BVPB takes into account the plurilingual nature of Spain and the headings are displayed in all the languages ??spoken in Spain, as well as in English. It thus uses the specific fields of the MARC21 format for authority records designated for this purpose.

The BVPB authority records have also been subjected to various semi-automatic processes linked to other authority sources such as VIAF, LEM, Dbpedia, LCSH, EMBNE, RAMEAU, SWD, LEMAC, LEMAG and LEMAV, etc.

The BVPB is duly adapted to the semantic web, offering versions of records in RDF, in EDM format for bibliographic records, and in SKOS format for authority records.

In order to handle information related to the digital object that constitutes the bibliographic description, the records of the collections, the standard access points and the digital copy information (technical, administrative, structural and regarding rights), the METS format (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard - is used. The BVPB is also listed on the implementers registry for this standard

The BVPB has its own METS profile that can be accessed by visiting the following link:

This profile is geared toward creating METS to represent, preserve and ingest digital objects that are archived and offered to the public in this library, but can also be used to ingest digital objects and/or metadata in other digital libraries and databases and, in general, to record, transmit and store metadata and digital objects.

While the MARC21 format is used to catalogue works and the METS format is used for uploading and describing digital objects, for the conservation of our conservation system ( the PREMIS format is used ( It is expected that the search function within the text of publications will very soon be implemented via the process of optical recognition of characters using the ALTO format (

With regard to image formats, the BVPB offers a multi-page, average-quality JPG version and another in PDF format for viewing and downloading digital copies of the digitised works. For conservation it uses the TIF format.

The BVPB website offers many different options for searching, viewing and downloading content, allowing users to carry out in-depth research. In addition to these options, the BVPB offers the possibility for searching its records via an SRU server ( SRU is a specification of the Library of Congress that involves the evolution of client/server technology as outlined in the Z39.50 guideline and by ISO 23950. The BVPB has thus been established as a provider of web services and is listed in the corresponding registry held by the Library of Congress

The BVPB also allows its records to be compiled using the OAI-PMH protocol (

With regard to this last protocol, the Virtual Library of Bibliographic Heritage has an OAI-PMH repository ( that allows its records to be compiled by repositories or OAI-PMH aggregators such as HISPANA (, EUROPEANA (, WordCat (, etc. This repository figures as a supplier of data in the OAI-PMH registry of providers of the Open Archives Initiative ( and in OAISter (

The OAI repository works from records in Marc21 format, automatically mapping to other formats such as Dublin Core, ESE, EDM, OAI-MARC, etc.

The Virtual Library of Bibliographic Heritage uses the Digibib digital bibliographic application, developed by Digibis S.L. and is managed by the General Subdirectorate for Library Coordination under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.