Culture at the service of the Empire: the use of news items about libraries and book heritage in the Franco regime’s current affairs newsreel

Objectives: To determine whether news items about libraries and book heritage were used during the Franco regime (1939–1975) as a resource for disseminating political propaganda through the current affairs newsreel “Noticiero Documental”, also known as “NO-DO”.

Methodology: We identified and extracted news items about books, reading, bibliographic heritage and libraries from the “NO-DO” newsreel, which Spanish cinemas were obliged to screen before films. The news items were then categorised and analysed.

Results: Most of the news items idealise Spain’s sociocultural reality even while this stands in contrast with the undeveloped state of the library system of the time. Most items advertise large exhibitions of book heritage taking place alongside events involving important figures of Spanish culture or works in Spanish. Their purpose is to enhance the historical importance of Hispanic culture as epitomised by the Franco regime.