The grand staircase in the main entrance leads into a secular sanctuary devoted to Liberty, whereupon the replica of the New York Statue of Liberty greets newcomers. It represents the purest spirit of freedom, the provider of intellectual sustenance, as depicted by the epithet “Alma Libertas”. On the way out, the bust of Rossend Arús bids visitors farewell, in between two plaques: the first honouring his legacy and the donation of the Library to the people of Barcelona; the second honouring his heirs Valentí Almirall and Antoni Farnés, who executed his will and created the Library.
This corridor, where some books and items for sale on display can be found, leads into the Conference Room and the Music Room. Amongst the souvenirs, Arús’s plays, his Letters to the Wife book and a paper knife inspired by his very own Masonic sword are noteworthy.
The old card catalogue can be found here. Still in use nowadays, it features the alphabetical guides in terms of author, subject and title, as well as a chronological guide of journals, serial publications and miscellanea. Computers are provided for online search.
The Library was created with three goals in mind: to educate, to inform and to entertain the people of Barcelona. Thusly, from its inception it featured an exhibition room, where the most valuable and praiseworthy items in the collection could be displayed. The Library still offers exhibitions as of today, focusing mainly on its areas of specialization.
The furniture arrangement in this room barely differs from that of 1895. It is the brightest area of the whole Library, thanks to its great windows and the central ornate light. The walls are embedded with the names and portraits of fifty-nine historical figures, whether philosophers, scientists or artist. Unfortunately, the ceiling decorations depicting nine global beacons of Science and Education (such as the Acropolis, the Louvre Museum and the Vatican Library) were lost to time, due to the lack of maintenance the Library endured during its three-decade shutdown.
This was once a secondary reading room, which in time became the Conference Room. The ceiling is ornate with blue floral and geometrical patterns, and the original shelves and chandelier are still present. The Library hosts a wide array of activities within these walls.
Marble floors and ornate ceilings trimmed with floral and geometrical filigrees frame this room. The Library attendees used to study music here, playing the piano of the harmonium, since the Library founders believed music to be an essential part of one’s cultural education. Two of this room’s bookshelf are unique in that they belonged to Arús himself, and each has an epithet engraved which illustrate his beliefs: “The greater the enlightenment of a nation, the further it is from absolutism” and “An honest man’s sacred word is advance”.