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The Jagiellonian Library

The Jagiellonian Library

The Jagiellonian Library is the most important one in Krakow. Thanks to storing a large amount of Polish printed materials, it is considered part of the national library system in Poland. It assembles and archives all Polish printed materials published in Poland and abroad. It takes pride in a rich historical book collection, the founding of which was connected with the activities of the Academy of Krakow (the official name of the Jagiellonian University from the Middle Ages until the eighteenth century). The Jagiellonian Library assembles the most precious monuments of the Polish language and literature, including the 1408 copy of Bogurodzica, the war song of the Polish knighthood, Jan Długosz’s manuscripts, and the Liber viginti atrium or The Book of the Twenty Arts, allegedly bearing the trace of the Devil’s touch. The library possesses also the manuscripts of: Nicolaus Copernicus’ De revolutionibus… of 1543, Frédéric Chopin’s famous Scherzo E major, Stanisław Wyspiański’s drama Wesele (The Wedding), works by Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Stanisław Moniuszko, and many other.

After the World War II, there began a dynamic inflow of collections, particularly of published novelties, to the Jagiellonian Library (up to around 40 thousand volumes a year). Since 1969, the Library has been archiving Polish printed materials, destining to this purpose one of the two obligatory copies received from publishing houses, and since 1996 it has been archiving also audiovisual and electronic documents.

The Jagiellonian Library has owned also the so-called Prussian Library “Berlinka”, which is a collection of the most precious monuments of the European culture. The works from the Prussian State Library, evacuated during the World War II from Berlin for fear of air raids, first went to Książ, then to Krzeszów, where they were found after the war by teams of Polish museologists and librarians searching for works stolen by the Germans, and finally moved to Krakow in secret from the Red Army. The collection encompasses several hundred musical manuscripts, including over a hundred scores by Mozart, a few dozen by Beethoven and Bach, some by Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, as well as letters written by Luther, Dürer, Leibniz, Goethe, Kleist, the brothers Grimm, Hegel, Alexander von Humboldt and his brother Wilhelm.

The Jagiellonian Library possesses a very rich collection of underground publications (the so-called drugi obieg or samizdat), taking care of them together with the Foundationof the Centre for the Documentationof Pro-Independence Acts. The more important underground books published in Krakow and included in the collection of the Jagiellonian Library are: Czesław Miłosz’s Gdzie wschodzi słońce i kędy zapada(Where the Sun Rises and Where It Sets; published by NIW, 1979), Stanisław Barańczak’s collection of essays Etyka i poetyka(Ethics and Poetics; published by ABC, 1981), Alain Besançon’s Krótki traktat sowietologiczny (Short Treatise on Sovietology; published by Kos, 1981), the Polish translation of Albert Camus’ The Rebel (published by Oficyna Literacka, 1983), and Joseph Brodsky’s Wybór poezji (A Selection of Poetry; published by Oficyna Literacka, 1985).

The total collection of the Jagiellonian Library amounts to 7,134,635 titles (as of the 31st of December 2012).

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