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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,, 8-4:30 M-F) 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). Researchers now need a Carta de Presentación addressed to Dra. Rocio Pazmiño Acuña, Directora Ejecutiva de Archivo Nacional, as well as a gloves (if coming from the U.S. it might be worth ordering them in advance from and a mask.

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). In 2014, I was told I need to request permission from the Minister of the Interior José Serrano (Benalcázar N4-24 y Espejo), but I never received a response to my petition. My sense 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. 2014 update: The documents I wanted to see from the 1930s were still being processed, and they told me it would be at least another year before they would be ready for review.

Archivo Histórico del Banco Central del Ecuador used to be in the colonial center, but now has moved to the Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio (old 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,, 7-9 MF; 9-1 Sat) is one of the best run libraries in Ecuador, with very courteous and professional staff. It now has open stacks, and usually long hours.

Biblioteca Cultural del Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio (Reina Victoria y Jorge Washington, Edificio Aranjuez,, M-F 8:30-5) houses the former Biblioteca del Banco Central del Ecuador. It includes several different fondos with a particularly rich collection. The friendly staff makes it a good place to review newspapers such as El Día and other periodicals.

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. It now sells scans of parts of its collection on DVDs for $10 a disk.

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 (tho in all honesty, I have not bothered going back in years). 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.

I haven't spent much time in recent years years in the libraries of either FLACSO or UASB because I think of them as holding academic publications rather than periodicals or primary source collections, but they are good places to work.

New Bookstores

Librería Abya Yala (Avenida 12 de Octubre 14730 y Wilson, 250-62-47 y 256-26-33,, 8:30-6:30 M-F). 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.

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.

Librería Rayuela (Germán Alemán E12-62 y Juan Ramírez, 2273787 / 2463917 / 2465153,, 10-7 M-Sat) is friendly, laid back, and has a very broad range of books.

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.

Rocinante (Toledo N22-80 [Planta baja, Edificio José Joaquín Olmedo, by Plaza Brasilia], 3240-046, 10-6 M-F) is the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar's bookstore and a counterpart to FLACSO's La Librería.

Libri Mundi (Juan León Mera 851, 223-47-91, was once considered to be Ecuador's best bookstore, though it has declined significantly in quality. Its strongest holdings are not on Ecuadorian history and politics and in recent years has had fewer such books. It has a branch in Quicentro that is open on weekends and is one of the few things one can do in Quito on Sunday. I used to find old books at cheap prices in the Libri Mundi branches, but that is no longer the case.

Librería Banco Central del Ecuador (Av. 12 de Octubre y Patria, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana) was in the Banco Central's museum and was usually worth a quick peak to see what new materials they have published (information not recently verified).

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?

Used Bookstores

Biblos Mauricio (Orellana y 12 de Octobre, Edificio Jericó, 2220885 / 09-8380694) features towers of books in a small space is not for claustrophobics. Owner Mauricio often maintains long evening and weekend hours, and sometimes will open up the store if he is around.

Sur Libros (Francisco Robles E4-176 y Juan León Mera, 2908517 / 092941548,, 8-6 M-F, 8-2 Sat) has an incredibly rich collection of used books, but charge closer to market prices ($10-$25 per book, rather than $1-$5).

Mundibooks (formerly Multilibro, Oriente OE3-132 y Vargas, 315-0643, 254-7834, 9-6 M-F, 9-4 Sat) and Librería Luz (Venezuela N7-63 y Manabí, 2-953-911, 092-565-858) are close to the colonial center. They have many old books at cheap prices, though they are really starting to look picked over to me.

El Siglo de las Luces (6 de diciember 10-45 y Jorge Washington, 255-9261, 09-874-62830,, 9:30-7 M-F, 9:30-12 Sat) used to be La Maga (18 de Septiembre E4-26 entre 9 de Octubre y Amazonas) that advertised itself as an antiquarian bookstore and charged high prices). It is run by a Cuban Juan Carlos Morales, and specializes in Latin American literature and anthropology. It does not have a lot of books on Ecuador, but occasionally I find real treasures here.

Librería Paideia (Leonidas Plaza Gutiérrez y J. Carrión) is a small room packed full of antiquarian books but is almost never open. A sign says for information to go to Sucursal Baquedano y Av 6 de Dic, or call 0995-441-878; 2-228-649. If the owner is around and available, he will come and open the bookstore.

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

August 4, 2008
Updated June 7, 2015
Archived: July 20, 2012 version

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