National Library of Poland

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National Library of Poland
Biblioteka Narodowa
National library of Poland.svg
Biblioteka Narodowa w Warszawie 2017.jpg
Type National library
EstablishedAugust 8, 1747(272 years ago) (1747-08-08) as Załuski Library
February 24, 1928(91 years ago) (1928-02-24) as National Library
Location Warsaw, Poland
Coordinates 52°12′52″N21°00′16″E / 52.21444°N 21.00444°E / 52.21444; 21.00444 Coordinates: 52°12′52″N21°00′16″E / 52.21444°N 21.00444°E / 52.21444; 21.00444
Size9,634,026 (As of 2013) [1]
Legal deposit Yes
Other information
DirectorDr. Tomasz Makowski

The National Library of Poland (Polish : Biblioteka Narodowa) is the central Polish library, subject directly to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.


The library collects books, journals, electronic and audiovisual publications published in the territory of Poland, as well as Polonica published abroad. It is the most important humanities research library, the main archive of Polish writing and the state centre of bibliographic information about books. It also plays a significant role as a research facility and is an important methodological center for other Polish libraries.

The National Library receives a copy of every book published in Poland as legal deposit. The Jagiellonian Library is the only other library in Poland to have a national library status.

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19. Typically, the national library is one of the repositories of these copies. In some countries there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.

Jagiellonian Library library of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków

Jagiellonian Library is the library of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and with almost 6.7 million volumes, one of the largest libraries in Poland, serving as a public library, university library and part of the Polish national library system. It has a large collection of medieval manuscripts, for example Copernicus' De Revolutionibus and Jan Długosz's Banderia Prutenorum, and a large collection of underground literature from the period of communist rule in Poland (1945–1989). The Jagiellonian also houses the Berlinka art collection, whose legal status is in dispute with Germany.

National library Library specifically established by the government

A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books. Often, they include numerous rare, valuable, or significant works. A national library is that library which has the duty of collecting and preserving the literature of the nation within and outside the country. Thus, national libraries are those libraries whose community is the nation at large. Examples include the British Library, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

Organizational structure

There are three general sections:


Special Collections Building: Krasinski Palace (Palace of the Commonwealth), Warsaw Warsaw 07-13 img11 Library.jpg
Special Collections Building: Krasiński Palace (Palace of the Commonwealth), Warsaw

The National Library's history has origins in the 18th century (Załuski Library) [2] including items from the collections of John III Sobieski which were obtained from his grand daughter Maria Karolina Sobieska, Duchess of Bouillon. However, the Załuski collection was confiscated by troops of Russian tsarina Catherine II in the aftermath of the second Partition of Poland and sent to Saint Petersburg, where the books formed the mass of the Imperial Public Library on its formation in 1795. [3] [4] [5] Parts of the collection were damaged or destroyed as they were mishandled while being removed from the library and transported to Russia, and many were stolen. [3] [4] According to the historian Joachim Lelewel, the Zaluskis' books, "could be bought at Grodno by the basket". [4]

Załuski Library library in Warsaw

The Załuski Library was built in Warsaw in 1747–1795 by Józef Andrzej Załuski and his brother, Andrzej Stanisław Załuski, both Roman Catholic bishops. The library was the first Polish public library, the largest library in Poland, and one of the earliest public libraries in Europe.

John III Sobieski King of Poland

John III Sobieski was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death, and one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Maria Karolina Sobieska Duchess of Bouillon

Maria Karolina Sobieska was a Polish noblewoman, daughter of Jakub Ludwik Sobieski. Known as Marie Charlotte or only Charlotte, she was the Princess of Turenne and later Duchess of Bouillon by marriage. Charlotte was the last surviving member of the House of Sobieski.

Because of that, when Poland regained her independence in 1918, there was no central institution to serve in the capacity of a national library. On 24 February 1928, by the decree of president Ignacy Mościcki, the National Library was created in its modern form. [6] It was opened in 1930 and initially had 200 thousand volumes. Its first Director General was Stefan Demby, succeeded in 1934 by Stefan Vrtel-Wierczyński. The collections of the library were rapidly extended. For instance, in 1932 president Mościcki donated all of the books and manuscripts from the Wilanów Palace Museum to the library, some 40 thousand volumes and 20 thousand pictures from the collection of Stanisław Kostka Potocki.

Ignacy Mościcki Polish physical chemist, politician

Ignacy Mościcki was a Polish chemist, politician, and President of Poland from 1926 to 1939. He was the longest serving President in Poland's history. He was serving as the president of Poland when Nazi Germany invaded the country on 1 September 1939, starting the Second World War.

Stefan Vrtel-Wierczyński was a Polish librarian and bibliographer, historian of Polish and Slavic literature, Professor of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

Wilanów Palace royal palace located in the Wilanów district, Warsaw

Wilanów Palace or Wilanowski Palace is a royal palace located in the Wilanów district, Warsaw. Wilanów Palace survived Poland's partitions and both World Wars, and so serves as a reminder of the culture of the Polish state as it was before the misfortunes of the 18th century.

Initially the National Library lacked a seat of its own. Because of that, the collections had to be accommodated in several places. The main reading room was located in the newly built library building of the Warsaw School of Economics. In 1935 the Potocki Palace in Warsaw became home for the special collections. A new, purpose-built building for the library was planned in what is now the Pole Mokotowskie, in a planned monumental "Government District". However, its construction was hampered by the outbreak of World War II.

Potocki Palace, Warsaw palace in Warsaw, Poland

Potocki Palace, is a large baroque palace in Warsaw located at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street 15, directly opposite the Presidential Palace. It was originally built for Denhoff family and succeeded by Potocki family in the end of 18th century. After World War II the seat of the Ministry of Culture and Art. Nowadays - the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

Before World War II, the library collections consisted of:

In 1940 the Nazi occupants changed the National Library into Municipal Library of Warsaw and divided it as follows:

In 1944 the special collections were set ablaze by the Nazi occupants as a part of repressions after the Warsaw Uprising. [7] This caused the destruction of 80,000 early printed books, including priceless 16th–18th century Polonica, 26,000 manuscripts, 2,500 incunables, 100,000 drawings and engravings, 50,000 pieces of sheet music and theatre materials. [8] It is estimated that out of over six million volumes in Warsaw's major libraries in 1939, 3.6 million volumes were lost during World War II, a large part of them belonging to the National Library. [9] [10]


The main reading room Polish-Natl-Library-reading-room-01.jpg
The main reading room

Today the collections of the National Library are one of the largest in the country. Among 7,900,000 volumes (2004) held in the library are 160,000 objects printed before 1801, over 26,000 manuscripts (including 6,887 music manuscripts), over 114,000 music prints and 400,000 drawings. The library collections also include photographs and other iconographic documents, more than 101,000 atlases and maps, over 2,000,000 ephemera, as well as over 2,000,000 books and about 800,000 copies of journals from the 19th to 21st centuries. Notable items in the collection include 151 leaves of the Codex Suprasliensis , which was inscribed in UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 2007 in recognition for its supranational and supraregional significance. [11]

In 2012 the library signed an agreement to add 1.3 million Polish library records to WorldCat. [12]

See also


  1. Zbiory—
  2. Pasztaleniec-Jarzyńska 2000 , p. 5
  3. 1 2 Czechowicz, ¶ "After the fall..."
  4. 1 2 3 Witt, ¶ "The Dispersal of the collection"
  5. Basbanes, p. 185
  6. Pasztaleniec-Jarzyńska 2000 , p. 3
  7. Knuth, p. 166
  8. Pasztaleniec-Jarzyńska 2000 , p. 9
  9. Mężyński, p. 296
  10. Balcerzak, p. 4
  11. UNESCO, ¶ "The codex was written..."
  12. "National Library of Poland will add 1.3 million more records to WorldCat". Research Information. November 8, 2012.

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