Soledad Ferreiro Serrano
At slightly more than 120 years old, the Library of the National Congress is an intitution with its specific historical weight. The Library has had eight Chief Librarians, one of whom later became President of the Repubiic and two of whom, including myself, have been women. All of these have striven to both give the Library socio-cultural relevance and make it a nonexclusive space.
The founding of the Library is closely linked to the political and historical history of Chile. In 1883, in a visionary gesture, the House of Representatives accepted the proposal of Representative Pedro Montt M., who would later be President of the Republic, to obtain from France those bibliographic collections that contained the ideas which would, in time, transform the world. Thus, Chile was brought into contact with the ideals and political, social and cultural practices of illustrated and Liberal Europe. And, in this way, the Library of the National Congress was, from its inception, a relevant actor in Chile's political and congressional processes, serving as a window that the country kept open to look out on the world and our future.
I wish to recall here the essential trait of libraries, that constitutive factor which has been theirs throughout history.
Libraries have invariably responded to their communities in a dynamic give and take, nurturing those communities and being nurtured by them. In the flow of diverse paradigms, contexts and successive technological innovations, from clay tablets to digital technology, libraries have constantly reinvented theír ways of being