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Quito archives, libraries, and bookstores 

KennyA brief guide to some of my favorite places in Quito, Ecuador.

Archives (Also see a list from Hilde Reimerink)

Archivo Nacional del Ecuador (Av. 10 de Agosto N11-539 y Santa Prisca, 2280-431 / 2553-919, is a professionally run institution with an emphasis on colonial and nineteenth-century history. Unfortunately (for me), it has very little material from the twentieth century. Most of these materials remain in ministerial archives where access can be more difficult (see below).

Archivo Intermedio Sistema Nacional de Archivos (Espejo 903 y Guayaquil (esquina) ED. La Previsora, 2286-227). I found this archive quite by accident in July 2008, and it really is an underworked and largely undiscovered treasure. It has the Ministerio de Prevision Social archives (catalogued as the Ministerio de Recursos Humanos y Trabajo) which is a very rich source of information. It's supposed to have a website, but I can't find it.

Archivo General del Ministerio de Gobierno (Calle Venezuela N2-51 entre Bolívar y Sucre, frente al cine Atahualpa, 2-592-005, 2752-005). I spent one day in this archive in the early 2000s, but when I returned in July 2008 its director Patricio Dávilo would not let me in (you can read all about it in my blog). My sense, however, is that it has a rich collection on twentieth-century political history.

Museo Nacional de Medicina “Eduardo Estrella” used to be in the colonial center, but now it has moved its collection to the old Eugenio Espejo hospital. I've made extensive use of its Fondo Junta Central de Asistencia Pública that has excellent records on agrarian conflicts on state-owned haciendas in the twentieth century. The director Antonio Crespo is a great guy.

Archivo-Biblioteca de la Función Legislativa ( had moved to Av. 10 de Agosto when the Congress building burned several years ago, but in July 2008 it moved back to the Congress building. Everything was in boxes, but the staff was very friendly and helpful. They are digitizing much of their materials and posting some of it to their website, but the link to the on-line collection seems to have disappeared.

Archivo Histórico del Banco Central del Ecuador used to be in the colonial center, but during the summer of 2008 it was closed and moving its collection to the Banco Central building at Reina Victoria y Jorge Washington. It is professionally run with a broad range of material.


Biblioteca Central Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (Av. 12 de Octubre y Roca, Teléfono: 2228-780, is one of the best run libraries in Ecuador, with very courteous and professional staff. Its photocopy center will efficiently make copies of most material in the collection (except theses and some newspapers) for a very economic 3 cents a page. As a bonus, it usually has evening hours (open until 9pm during the school year).

Biblioteca del Banco Central del Ecuador (Reina Victoria y Jorge Washington, Edificio Aranjuez, 2505-948, includes several different fondos with a particularly rich collection.

Biblioteca Ecuatoriana Aurelio Espinosa Polit (José Nogales 220 (Cotocollao) prolongación de la Av. 25 de Mayo, 2493928 / 2492190, is generally considered to have the best library collection in Ecuador. Its two liabilities are that it is an hour away from the city center, and it fired its professional and capable staff that used to make this the best place to work in Ecuador. Since then, service has been very uneven. But it is one of the few places that will still copy newspapers.

Biblioteca Nacional Eugenio Espejo (Av. 12 de Octubre y Patria, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, 2528-840) is absolutely the worst place to work in Ecuador, with its staff from the director down to the staff some of the rudest and most inefficient people I have met in Ecuador. But I list it simply because it has evening and Saturday hours, and when I'm trying to maximize my time in the country I go there (tho inevitably it ends up being a frustrating experience).

Bibliotecas Municipales (García Moreno y Espejo (Centro Cultural Metropolitano), 295-0272 / 228-2441) is no where near a research library, but it does have weekend hours (with parts of it even open on Sunday) and I list it simply because of the outside chance that it might have something for which I'm searching.


Librería Abya Yala (Avenida 12 de Octubre 14730 y Wilson, 250-62-47 y 256-26-33, For social science materials and particularly books on Indigenous issues, Abya Yala cannot be beat. It is often my first and last stop in Quito. If you don't want to buy the book, go next door to Universidad Politécnica Salesiana ( and read the book in their library.

Libri Mundi (Juan León Mera 851, 223-47-91, is often considered to be Ecuador's best bookstore, tho its strongest holdings are not on Ecuadorian history and politics. It has a branch in the Mariscol that is open late into the night, and one in Quicentro that is open on Sunday. I used to find old books at cheap prices in the Libri Mundi branches, but that is no longer the case.

La Librería (La Pradera E7-174 y Av. Diego de Almagro, (593 2) 323-8888) is FLACSO's bookstore and has mostly their own books as well as other social science type publications.

Librería Autores Ecuatorianos (Estrada 123 y Luis Felipe Borja, 3524-460) used to be favorite bookstore, until I found used bookstores in Quito. But this bookstore usually has books published by lesser known editorial houses, and I often find things here that I do not see anywhere else in Quito. The staff is super nice and friendly, and will often search for specific books for me.

Multilibro (Oriente OE3-132 y Vargas, 315-0643, 254-7834) is a used bookstore with great old books at affordable prices. Why visit a library when you can buy your own?

Librería Luz (Venezuela N7-63 y Manabí, 2-953-911, 092-565-858) moved to a new and larger location in 2008. Apparently it is owned by relatives of Multilibro and has more of a "popular" collection, though it also has some old books.

La Maga (18 de Septiembre E4-26 entre 9 de Octubre y Amazonas, 09-500-0436) has similar books as Multilibro and Librería Luz, though it advertises itself as an antiquarian bookstore and therefore charges outrageous prices. But it is worth a look. (2011 Update: moved or closed.)

Librería Banco Central del Ecuador (Av. 12 de Octubre y Patria, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana) is in the Banco Central's museum and is usually worth a quick peak to see what new materials they have published.

Libro Andinos (Ulpiano Páez N19-70 y 18 de Septiembre, 2226-895) has a similar collection to Abya Yala and Libri Mundi. (2011 Update: moved or closed.)

Marc’s favorite bookstores, updated for 2012.

For new books, Librería Abya Yala (Avenida 12 de Octubre 14730 y Wilson, 250-62-47 y 222235, remains the best bet. Libri Mundi (Juan León Mera 851, 223-47-91, is declining in quality, although their branch in Quicentro is still open on weekends and is one of the few things one can do in Quito on Sunday. FLACSO’s La Librería (La Pradera E7-174 y Av. Diego de Almagro, (593 2) 323-8888) is still a good bet.

Ximena introduced me to Librería Rayuela (Germán Alemán E12-62 y Juan Ramírez, 2273787 / 2463917 / 2465153,, which is friendly, laid back, and has a broader range of books than Abya Yala or Libri Mundi. It is similar to, but more upscale than, Librería Autores Ecuatorianos (Estrada 123 y Luis Felipe Borja, 2524460).

The used book market continues to grow. Multilibro (Oriente OE3-132 y Vargas, 315-0643, 254-7834), Librería Luz (Venezuela N7-63 y Manabí, 2-953-911, 092-565-858), and Librería Outlet Book (Venezuela N8-31 y Manabí, 23150643, 084965307) still have old books at cheap prices, though they are really starting to look picked over to me.

Sur Libros (Francisco Robles E4-176 y Juan León Mera, 2908517 / 092941548, has an incredibly rich collection of used books, but unlike Multilibro, Librería Luz, or Librería Outlet Book they charge closer to market prices ($10-$25 per book, rather than $1-$3).

Someplace between Multilibro / Librería Luz / Librería Outlet Book and Sur Libros is Biblos Maurico (Orellana y 12 de Octobre, Edificio Jericó, 2220885 / 09-8380694). Towers of books in a small space is not for claustrophobics. The quality of books is not as good as Sur Libros and the prices are not as cheap as Multilibro / Librería Luz / Librería Outlet Book, but they probably have as many books as all of the other used bookstores put together.

Over the years a variety of left-wing bookstores have rotated through Quito, but I can no longer find any. Does anyone know of one?

If anyone else finds any bookstore treasures in Quito, please let me know!

August 4, 2008
Updated June 18, 2010, July 16, 2011

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