Valparaíso’s Santiago Severin Regional Library is a testimony to the importance the city enjoyed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a thriving port.
Plaza Simón Bolívar 1653, Valparaíso, Chile.
Founded in 1873, the Valparaíso Regional Library was Chile's first public lending library outside of Santiago. This was the period when, ahead of the opening of the Panama Canal, Valparaíso flourished as a key port on the route between the Atlantic and Pacific through the Strait of Magellan.
It was also at this time that the Valparaíso Natural History Museum - Chile's second oldest museum, after the National Natural History Museum in Santiago - was founded.
The Library was initially housed in part of the city's Court Building and, subsequently, in a cramped building on Edwards Street. However, in 1919, thanks to a donation from Santiago Severin, a local businessman, politician and philanthropist, it was able to move to its current premises.
The neoclassical building took nine years to build. Standing on an island of land surrounded by four streets, it has an unusual oblong shape, measuring 58 meters in length and only 12 meters in width.
The services offered by the Santiago Severin Library include: