Jagiellonian Library

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The Jagiellonian Library ( Biblioteka Jagiellońska in Polish ) in Krakow is the main library of the Jagiellonian University , which forms a joint system with the library of the Collegium Medicum and the faculty libraries. It is also the national library .

Beginnings in the Collegium Maius

The history of the Jagiellonian Library is inextricably linked with the history of the Jagiellonian University, founded in 1364. From the 15th century to 1940, the medieval Collegium Maius in Sankt-Anna-Straße 8 was the seat of the library. The fact that a manuscript was donated to the university in 1367 can be taken as evidence that there was a library at that time.

In 1429 a library statute was issued under the title De Libraria custodienda . Thereafter, two curators ( custodes librariae ) should be appointed from among the professors. At the beginning of the 16th century, a professor as the “father of books” ( pater librorum ) watched over the university's collections.

In the Middle Ages it was customary for university professors and students to donate teaching materials. In view of the rapidly growing stocks in the age of book printing, this custom declined in favor of the targeted expansion of collections. The first purchases of books are recorded for the middle of the 16th century. In the middle of the 17th century the holdings comprised around 10,000 titles.

The wars of the 16th century, the repeated occupation of Cracow by the Swedes, epidemics and impoverishment led to the decline of the Jagiellonian University, which also affected the library. An alphabetical inventory of all books was started between 1774 and 1777. From 1777 Hugo Kołłątaj carried out a comprehensive reform on behalf of the National Education Commission . The various collections of the university were combined into a main library with around 32,000 volumes and the various Kraków monastery libraries were also integrated. The Education Commission granted an annual purchase budget of 3,600 zlotys and each librarian an annual salary of 1,000 zlotys.

Since 1802 the holdings have been cataloged based on the example of the Vienna University Library .

Jagiellonian Library

Modernization and new construction

Around 1900, Professor Karol Estreicher (1827–1908), the founder of Bibliografia Polska (“Polish Bibliography”), thoroughly modernized the library. Under his leadership, the Polonica collection was expanded to include around 81,000 volumes.

In 1900 a monument was erected in the library courtyard to the most famous student of Kraków University, Nicolaus Copernicus . In 1919, the professor of German studies Wilhelm Creizenach bequeathed a collection of around 3,000 volumes on the history of drama to the library .

The first plans for a new building to house the library were presented in 1929. From 1931 to 1939 the new building was constructed at 22 Mickiewicz Avenue in Czarna Wieś . The plans were exhibited by the Polish Library Association at the 1937 Paris World's Fair.

The library in World War II

After the German invasion of Poland and the occupation of Krakow on September 6, 1939, the Jagiellonian University was overturned. 180 professors were interned in concentration camps in the course of the so-called special campaign in Krakow and most of them were murdered. The Jagiellonian Library was closed on November 6, 1939.

In 1940, the German authorities of the General Government organized the so-called State Library in Cracow in the completed library building as the basis for a planned German University in Cracow. Many other private and public libraries in the region were confiscated and transferred here.

The transport of the holdings of the Jagiellonian library and the university's faculty libraries to the new building was carried out under German supervision by 18 former library employees (among them ex-library director Kuntze and former custodian Jan Pietras). At risk of death, these employees also supplied the Kraków Underground University with teaching material.

The reference library of the reading room, which was dragged to Silesia by the German military in July 1944, returned to the library in autumn 1945.

Fresh start and inventory statistics

The population development after the war is illustrated by the following statistics:

1938 1961
Books 0635,548 volumes 0746,338 volumes
Periodicals 0118,700 volumes 0195,767 volumes
Manuscripts 0006,877 copies 0010,621 copies
cards 0005,805 copies 0008,128 copies
Graphics 0021,222 copies 0024,937 copies
Music 0007,930 copies 0020,691 copies

From 1961 to 1963 the second and from 1995 to 2001 the third construction phase were built. The total volume of the three construction phases is 145,248 cubic meters, the usable area 32,891 square meters.

Situation in the present

New extension (2001)

The Jagiellonian Library is now a magazine library with ten reading rooms. With the support of Andrew.-W. Mellon Foundation was 1993 EDP are introduced each year. Since 2000, requested media have been brought from the magazines to the reading rooms in 30 to 40 minutes using a transport elevator.

In addition to the university library, the medical library and around 40 institute libraries also belong to the library system of the Jagiellonian University. It was granted national library  status in 1969 - as the only institution in Poland alongside the Biblioteka Narodowa in Warsaw - and is entitled to receive a deposit copy of every publication appearing in Poland .

At the end of 2008, the collections comprised a total of 6,441,202 items of all kinds. The library employs around 300 people. The current director is Zdzisław Pietrzyk .

Special collections and controversial holdings

As a national library, the library mainly collects Polish and Polish literature, including old prints up to 1800 and the entire national publishing house production since 1945. It has the richest collection of incunabula (approx. 3,500) and the largest collection of printed Polonica from the 16th century (approx . 4,000 copies) in Poland. It is therefore an important address for research into old Polish literature.

The so-called Berlinka collection , also known as Pruski skarb (“Prussian treasure ”), has been kept in the Jagiellonian Library since October 1947 . An integration into the library's own holdings, begun by the management in 1974/1975, did not take place; the provenances remained separate, the old Berlin signatures were retained. The Berlinka holdings have been accessible to scientifically recognized users in the manuscript reading room since 1987, of which a total of 1,028 users made use of until 2005. Political negotiations about the fate of these cultural assets relocated during the war have so far remained fruitless.

Eminent directors of the Jagiellonian Library


  • Biuletyn Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej Tables of contents (web resource) , archive link.
  • Aleksander Birkenmajer: Plany nowego gmachu Biblioteki Jagiellońskiej. In: Przegląd Biblioteczny vol. III, No. 2, 1929
  • Maria Danilewicz: The Libraries of Poland. University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews (Scotland) 1943
  • Szczepan K. Zimmer: The Jagiellonian Library in Cracow. Czas Publishing Company, New York 1963
  • Jan Pirożyński / Barbara Bułat: Jagiellonian Library. In: Handbook of the historical book collections in Germany, Austria and Europe. Edited by Bernhard Fabian. Digitized by Günter Kükenshöner. Olms, Hildesheim 2003 Web resource
  • Zdzisław Pietrzyk: Book Collections from the Former Preussische Staatsbibliothek in the Jagiellonian Library. Translated by Barry Kane. In: Polish Libraries Today Vol. 6 (2006), pp. 81-87

Web links

Commons : Jagiellonian Library  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ According to Szczepan K. Zimmer: The Jagiellonian Library in Cracow. New York, Czas Publishing Company 1963, p. 39.

Coordinates: 50 ° 3 ′ 41.5 ″  N , 19 ° 55 ′ 25 ″  E