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History of the Library

"The history of the Wrocław University Library begins in 1945, when the group of scientists under the leadership by prof. Stanisław Kulczyński, came to the city” wrote in 1968 Bronislaw Kocowski [1]. Some members of this group, whose purpose was to create a new library, found buildings of Stadtbibliothek (former City Library) in quite a good shape (remained intact during the war) and took them over. First director of the library was Antoni Knot, Ph.D., a member of the founding group of scientists [2].

Originally, the Library consisted of several buildings. The most important, from the point of view of the wide masses of users, was located on Szajnochy 7/9 St. It was a pseudo-gothic structure made of red bricks - so called ‘Redigeranum’ - where, besides the Main Reading Room, were situated catalogs, information centers, lending departments, and main storage department. On Szajnochy 10 St., the next door structure built in 1785, in years 1945-2013 were housed the majority of the workshops, including Collections’ Acquisition Department, Monographs and Serials Departments, as well as directors offices and administration.

In 2013 first stage of moving Library to the new building at Fryderyk Joliot-Curie 12 St. has been begun. From September 2013, functional departments as well as director and Library’s administration started to work in the new building.

Special Collections were located in the former Augustinian Order building on Jadwigi 3/4 St. (Library on the Sand Island), where until 1945 the former Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek functioned [3]. After the reconstruction between 1956 and 1959 this building was supposed to house the following collections and services: old prints, manuscripts, graphical, cartographical and musical, Silesian-Lusatian collections and bibliological collections, as well as Special Collections’ Reading Room, Special Collections’ Conservation Workshop and Reprographic and Digitization Unit.

Although the center point of Wrocław University Library was the building of the former City Library, many other collections were also addedd to its posession. They come not only from the libraries of Wrocław but from entire Lower Silesia.

Collections of the pre-war City Library and University Library were compounded into Wrocław University Library. On June 8, 1946 the mostly well-preserved collections of former City Library (352.350 vol.) [4] were handed over to the Wrocław University Library thus creating a core of the new collection [5]. The second important part was the collection of the former University Library. A part of it burned down together with the building on the Sand Island, a part, however, was evacuated to the St Anne’s Church. The church, unfortunately, burned down too on May 11-12, 1945. Some was taken away from the city during the Second World War. In accordance with the war reparation agreement about 211.917 books were brought back [6].

In 1945 and 1946 some minor, decompleted collections were also addedd to Wrocław University Collection, including Piast Library from Brzeg, Prince Jerzy Rudolf library from Legnica, Jesuit college library from Kłodzko, parts of the Milich library from Zgorzelec, St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church library from Legnica, a Cistercian library from Trzebnica, and also some well-protected parts of many other Lower Silesian libraries .

From 1945 on the Wrocław University Library collections have constantly grown, chiefly by acquiring new Polish books. Wrocław University Library has attained a status of a major academic library in Wrocław and a major regional library that specializes in publications about Silesia.

Wrocław University Library has inherited parts of historical collections that are not related to the region. In 1702, when the Leopold University was established, its library housed a very old collection known as “Bibliotheca Vetus”, and a collection of gifts acquired on the basis of the bishop Carl Francis Neander testament. In 1811, when Leopold University of Wrocław and Viadrina University of Frankfurt made a fusion, these two collections were added to the library collection housed in the building on the Sand Island. The building belonged to the Augustinian Order. After secularization it was passed over to University and served for library purposes. From 1815 the library was called Königliche u. Universitäts-Bibliothek. In 1872-1886 its director was Karol Dziatzko, author of the rules of alphabetical cataloging system that unified the library’s catalogs.

The former City Library founded in 1866-1867 was made out of three collections. The first was the Wrocław patrician Thomas Rediger Collection. Thomas Rediger donated his books to the city in his last will. At first they were kept in St Elisabeth Church and opened to the public in 1661. The second collection was the St Mary Magdalene church library, based mostly on Jan Hess’ (died in 1547) legacy. The third one was the St Bernard church library whose beginnings are counted from 1502 [7].

The character of the former City Library was established as a result of the humanistic materials concentration. This collection, whose bigger part and the entire catalog survived World War II, is an important document of cultural life in Wrocław in the past and present.

From December 2019, the University Library operates in the new building on Fryderyka Joliot-Curie 12 St., where, after moving, were merged in one place: whole of the Library's collections (general collections and special collections) and all its functional departments.

[1] Look to: B. Kocowski, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka we Wrocławiu. Wrocław 1968

[2] Look to: St. Nawara, Zarys dziejów Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej we Wrocławiu 1945-1955. Wrocław 1955. (At the beginning author wrote: "Present draft is first scribed try to organize, basing on many sources and personal experiences, decennary development of Wroclaw University Library…”; among other facts, there is also information about first days in Wroclaw of 27 persons' group from Krakow formed at 24.04.1945 and details about attempt to save burning buildings and books.)

[3] K. Maleczyńska, Dzieje gmachu Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej we Wrocławiu na wyspie Piaskowej. Wrocław 1960 (in bibliography – list of publication concerning building to 1945)

[4] Look to: J. Ożóg, Zarys historii Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej we Wrocławiu. Wrocław 1995 s. 79.

[5] Look to: St. Nawara, Zarys dziejów Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej we Wrocławiu 1945-1955. Wrocław 1955 s. 26.

[6] Look to: J. Ożóg, op. cit. s.81.

[7] Look to: B. Kocowski, op. cit. s. 30-38.