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Brazilian rarities in Washington

Some 60,000 items that could be of interest to Brazilian and Portuguese literature and history researchers have been made available again at the Oliveira Lima Library of the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., USA. The library, formed by Brazilian diplomat, writer, and journalist Manoel de Oliveira Lima (1867–1928), one of the founders of the Brazilian Academy of Languages and Literature, reopened on January 31 after having been closed for two years. Its collection includes 6,000 rare books and 600 works of art, as well as letters exchanged between Brazilian and foreign intellectuals and politicians. “We are restructuring the space and transforming it into a center for Brazilian and Latin American studies,” explains Brazilian astronomer Duília de Mello, who is vice dean of the university and was responsible for reopening the library. The center will work in coordination with different departments of the institution, seeking to improve relations with Brazilian universities through research on public policy, diplomacy, Latin American studies, the history of Brazil, and Portuguese language and culture. Brazilian sociologist Nathalia Henrich, a researcher from the library and interim curator of the collection, is working on a biography of Oliveira Lima. Founded in 1916, the library officially opened in 1924, when the diplomat finished gathering the books he had left in the various countries where he lived with his wife, Flora. One of the collection’s rarest texts is the book Rervm per octennivm in Brasilia, published in 1647, of which there are only three copies in the world. Written by Gaspar Barleus, from the Netherlands, it describes the life of Mauricio de Nassau in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco.