February 24, 2000 Library of Congress and National Library of Spain Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Internet Project

Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, and Dr. Antonio Fontan, president of the Royal Board of Trustees of the National Library of Spain, today signed an agreement to collaborate on a project titled "Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier: Historias Paralelas (Parallel Histories)" that will place on the Internet some of the most important materials relating to the history of Spanish expansion into North America. The signing took place during a visit to the Library of Congress by Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofia.

The agreement will make it possible for the Library of Congress to work with institutions in the United States and Spain to tell the parallel historical stories of Spain, the Anglo-American settlers, and later Americans through digitized images and texts of original source materials on the Library's Web site. Initial partner institutions in Spain include the Biblioteca Colombia y Capitular (the Library of Hernando Colon and the Cathedral) in Seville and the National Library in Madrid. The latter will be in charge of recruiting other Spanish libraries as partners in this project.

In signing the agreement, Dr. Billington said, "It is an honor and a privilege for those of us in the United States to have this effort launched in the presence of Your Majesties, who have done so much not just to encourage but to embody the best of Spanish culture and the exuberant and upbeat spirit of today's Spain."

Spanish possessions extended over many parts of what is today the United States from 1513, when Juan Ponce de Leon first arrived in Florida and claimed the territory for the King of Spain, until 1821 when news of Mexico's independence from Spain reached Santa Fe.

The Library of Congress contains more than 5 million items relating to Spain and the Spanish-American Empire, including not only books and periodicals, but also engravings, photographs, manuscripts, maps, recordings, and films. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with nearly 119 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. Millions of interesting and important manuscripts, films, sound recordings, maps and photographs are currently available on the Library's widely acclaimed Web site at www.loc.gov. Further information about "Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier: Historias Paralelas" is available at www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/frontiers/splash.html in both English and Spanish.


PR 00-020
ISSN 0731-3527