Library in Spain
Language Resources

Vocabulary: In the library

As a university student—past or present, it isn't uncommon to have to spend a lot of time in that special place known as the library. If you are a student in Spain (not all is tapas and sangria here!), here is some vocabulary to help you navigate through the world of the biblioteca.

  • Anaquel: A horizontal piece of wood or metal upon which books are placed. A very elegant word, without a doubt, that sounds a lot better than balda or estante
  • Archivo: In the library this word not only indicates the number of documents available, but also the management and administration of them.
  • ILibrary
  • Colofón: The text found at the end of a book that indicates the name of the printer as well as the place and time of printing. Curiously, in Spain, this word is also used to talk about the last step in a process. You can say, for example: “el banquete tuvo, como colofón, una actuación musical”.
  • Estantería: This is a piece of furniture composed of various anaqueles where books are placed.
  • Hermeroteca: Libraries typically have a space dedicated to newspapers, magazines and other recurrent publications.
  • Incunable: Some older libraries are proud to possess something "incunable". This is a book that was made in the time after the invention of the printing press and before the 16th century.
  • Manuscrito: This can be an old book that has been written by hand o another type of handwritten document from a famous writer.
  • Préstamo: This Spanish word signifies that the books that we remove from the library must be returned on a specified date in the future.
  • Tomo: Refers to each part of a large work that has been divided into parts due to its size. Each one will have its own page numeration and separate binding. An excellent example of a book divided into tomos would be any encyclopedia.
With this vocabulary we think that you'll be able to get around any library here in Spain. We must admit that there are few things more delightful than losing oneself among books and discovering jewels from the past.

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