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Start of the 5th edition of the School of the Baroque: "Creation, despoilment and rescue of libraries. Europe, Spain, Seville"

November 3, 2008

Seville, 3 November 2008.- The Focus-Abengoa Foundation in collaboration with Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP), today opened the fifth edition of the School of the Baroque, which will be held until Thursday 6 November in the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville, the home of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, entitled Creation, despoilment and rescue of libraries. Europe, Spain, Seville.

Anabel Morillo León, Director General of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, was accompanied by Antonio Miguel Bernal Rodríguez, Chairman of the Academic Board of UIMP-Seville and Professor of the School of History and Economic Institutions of the University of Seville. During the opening, Anabel Morillo pointed out that the theme of the 5th edition of the School of the Baroque is “intimately linked to the origins of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation”, since the first cultural activity carried out by its founder, Javier Benjumea Piugcerver, was to create a monographic library and a collection of prints focused on the subject of Seville, which was the beginning of what we know as the Foundation today.

“Culture, including art and books, has been an important part of the Foundation’s role through to today. This process of cultural reclamation in which we are immersed, and which this School of the Baroque forms part of, is what should guide our steps now and in the future”, concluded the Director General of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation.

Subsequently, María Luisa López-Vidriero Abelló, Director of the Royal Library of Madrid, gave the inaugural conference on this historical institution, which acted as a private library to the kings of the House of Borbón following the arrival of Philip V. The honorary lecturer of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid explained to students the nuances of this historic institution. Her principal concern has been to adequately conserve its heritage as well as to selectively increase it and disseminate it through general and specific catalogues, some of which, such as the Crónicas generales de España (General chronicles of Spain) or the Manuscritos de América (Manuscripts of America), have become leading references among specialists.

In this fifth edition of the School of the Baroque, coordinated by Isabel Lobato Franco and José Ignacio Martínez Ruiz, lecturers at the University of Seville, more than ten experts will comprehensively examine the formation of our bibliographical heritage, one of the richest in the world, through examples of some of the most important libraries around the globe, such as the Colombina Library of Seville, the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, the British Library, the Library of Congress in the USA, the Vatican Library and the Hispanic Society of America. They will also examine the reasons and injustices that have led people and institutions to plunder, censor, prohibit and destroy books and libraries.

Tomorrow’s session will begin with a presentation by Maria Cristina Misiti, Director of the Archaeological and History of Art Library of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Assets, who will talk about the Vatican Library, which currently has more than 150,000 manuscripts, more than one million books, more than 300,000 coins and medals and more than 70,000 prints and engravings.

As part of the School of the Baroque, on Tuesday students and participants will also visit the Colombina Library following a presentation on its rehabilitation process by Juana María Muñoz Choclán, ex-director of the Infanta Elena de Sevilla Public Library. The Colombina Library, one of the most precious libraries, which is housed in the Cathedral of Seville, was bequeathed by Hernando Colón in the mid-16th century. Considered as one of the most important bibliophiles of his time, it is the most distinguished library in Seville and one of the most unique in Spain, including magnificent incunabula, rare editions of original Hispanic printing and typography, key works in Spanish culture (such as the Castilian grammar of Nebrija from 1492) and unique books.

Christian Péligry, Director of the Mazarine Library in Paris, will close Tuesday with a presentation in which he will describe day to day life in this library, considered to be France’s premier public library. This institution was previously the private library of Mazarino (1602-1661), the prime minister of the young Louis XIV.

From Wednesday 4, students may attend presentations from other internationally recognised professionals, with a program that perfectly matches the central theme of this year’s School, including Barry Taylor, John O’Neill, Fernando Jesús Bouza Álvarez and Fernando Báez.

The School of the Baroque is the product of a collaboration agreement between the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and Menéndez Pelayo International University, resulting in the organisation of two schools with a triennial program, one dedicated to the Baroque and the other to energy and climate change. All of the courses are included in the academic program of the UIMP in Seville, converting the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville into a forum for encounters and reflection led by internationally renowned teachers and researchers. The Schools are given as if they were university courses and each one covers a total of 30 teaching hours.

Created by Abengoa in 1982, the Foundation’s mission is to implement Abengoa's social action policy, which it does on a non-profit basis with general interest objectives focussing on welfare, education, culture, science, research and technological development. The Foundation has become a valuable instrument in Abengoa culture. Not only is it capable of providing support for the professional and human development of its employees, it is also capable of relating to society’s new sensibilities as a whole, globally managing intangible assets whose influence benefits and pervades the company’s own values and objectives.

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