These last few weeks I have in earnest started the primary source research for my thesis. This has led me to two fabulous places to conduct my research: the Biblioteca Nacional de España and the Palacio Real.
The Biblioteca Nacional de España is the most comprehensive library in Spain, and like most libraries there is an extensive protocol to gain access. For this library you need an official investigator’s card and must leave all belongings in the designated lockers before entering the main parts of the library. In many cases you do no roam the shelves looking for books, (although there are books on the shelves in the reading room) but rather request what you would like to read in advance, where it is brought out of storage for your use. You cannot bring in extra books from outside the library, nor can you leave with your books. Instead all research must be conducted within their walls. This might sound rather tedious, but personally, I rather enjoy it. It is an escape from my normal routine and gets me out of the house. The reading room is very well lit and the chairs have good back supports, something that many libraries have forgotten are necessary. I also enjoy the occasional run in with a colleague, especially seeing my good friend Gleydi who has just finished her dissertation on Portuguese Merchants in Lima. Below are two images of this library to give you a glimpse of where I am studying! (neither image is mine)
The other site of research, the Palacio Real, has been a much more prominent figure in my current studies. I am currently in the process of transcribing a manuscript from the 16th century, which will form the base of my project. This means that I must spend many long hours inside the Royal Archive at the Royal Palace. I do not enter with the rest of the tourists who come to see the Bourbon Palace, but rather through a side entrance where I must first present my official documents and take a photo before being given my badge and allowed through to the back patio. Once inside, much like the other library, you leave all of your belongings in lockers and then can begin to work. On a personal note, although I have only spent a month frequenting this Archive, I am already very grateful the warm and welcoming staff. They all have willingly helped guide this first phase of research in various ways. One that stands out was a day when the main reading room was closed and all of the available desk space was occupied. Instead of turning me away, multiple curators and staff members offered me their personal desk space so that I could continue my studies. These gestures that do not go unnoticed and I look forward to the many more hours I will spend in the reading room, seeing as I am no where near done with my manuscript. As the Palace is still in use and royal patrimony it is forbidden to take photos inside the buildings. This means that I have no fancy photos to share, but here is one that I took of the outside!