The Biblioteca Palafoxiana is a library in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico. Founded in 1646, it was the first public library in colonial Mexico, and is sometimes considered the first in the Americas. It has more than 41,000 books and manuscripts, ranging from the 15th to the 20th century. In 2005, it was listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
The Biblioteca Palafoxiana owes its name and foundation to Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, bishop of Puebla. He was a lover of books, and is quoted as having said,
He who succeeds without books is in an inconsolable darkness, on a mountain without company, on a path without a crosier, in darkness without a guide.
The library was finished in 1773, consisting of a 43-meter-long vaulted hall on the Colegio’s second floor. Two levels of bookshelves were built, and a retablo of the Madonna of Trapani by Nino Pisano was acquired. By the mid-19th century, the size of the collection necessitated a third level of bookshelves.
Two earthquakes in 1999 caused damage to the building and shelves, leading to a restoration program in 2001