As you can see from the photo, Barceloneta's La Fraternitat library is in a lovely old building. Its interior has been remodeled to adapt to the needs of a modern community resource, while its facade has been restored to its Art Nouveau grandeur.
Although no one seems to know exactly when the original building was constructed, undoubtedly its foundations were laid out when Barceloneta was begun in 1753. Like the other neighborhood buildings of the time, it would have had only one or two stories, since taller structures were not allowed in the district until the 19th century.
What is known is that in 1879 a progressive workers' organization called the Cooperativa Obrera La Fraternitat (The Fraternity Workers' Cooperative) began operating in Barceloneta. It initially ran a low-cost neighborhood store for workers and their families, and eventually developed into a social and cultural center that included a library.
In 1910 the cooperative moved to the building which today is known as La Fraternitat. In 1917 remodeling of the edifice was begun by the architect Francesc Guàrdia i Vial, who was a disciple of Barcelona's Lluis Domenech i Muntaner and Vienna's Otto Wager. The following year the work was completed and the cooperative's headquarters inaugurated.
At that time the ground floor held a neighborhood store and bodega, the first floor, a cafe and library, the second floor, an assembly hall, and the third floor, a boardroom and offices. The cooperative continued to offer services there until 1974. Eventually a savings bank took over part of the space, while the rest of it fell into disuse.
In 2001 the city of Barcelona converted the building into a public library. Initially only a small portion of the ground floor was used as a little lobby, with the upper floors housing the library itself. While it was a very nice, modern library, the majority of the bottom floor was inaccessible and dull concrete slabs filled in the spaces where large windows once looked out onto the street.
Then last year local architects Josep Maria Rovira, Orlando González and Antoni Soler used Guàrdia i Vial's original plans to reconstruct the main floor. As a result the facade has regained an open, inviting appearance. The ornate building's Doric columns and exposed brick exterior once again frame large windows, that today pour natural light onto the library's ample public reading area.
It's a beautiful spot to visit for residents and tourists alike.
La Fraternitat Public Library
C/ Comte de Santa Clara, 8-10 (on the corner of C/ Sant Carles)
Tel: 93 225 35 74
Autumn, Winter and Spring Opening hours:
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 15:30 – 20:30
Tuesdays 10 – 14 and 15:30 – 20:30
Thursdays 10 – 20:30
Saturdays 10 – 14
Summer Opening Hours:
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 16 – 21
Tuesdays 10 – 14 and 16 – 21
Thursdays 10 – 21