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1816-1915 Print

Public Library

1817 - The University of Warsaw Library was established as part of the Royal University of Warsaw.  

1818 -  it became an independent public library, directly administered by the State Commission on Religion and Public Enlightenment. Its first director was the famous lexicographer Samuel Bogumił Linde, and one of its deputy librarians was Joachim Lelewel. Lelewel himself gathered materials for the "Bibliograficznych ksiąg dwoje". The University Library received a valuable collection from the Warsaw Liceum which included: holdings from the Knight's School, the private collection of Ignacy Krasicki and the School of Law and Administration, as well as the majority of holdings of the Appellate Court Library. 

1819 -  the Library was assured the deposit copy of current publications from the territory of the Polish Kingdom. The library also imported many periodicals and books from abroad, and took over holdings of cloisters which had been closed (about 50,000 volumes). Especially valuable were the holdings of the Kalisz Voivodship School, which included the collections of the Jesuit Collegium, Canon Regular, the Benedictines of the Holy Cross, and the God's Tomb's Guards of Miechów. Undoubtedly the most valuable items were held in the Print Room. They included the collections of King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Stanisław Kostka Potocki. This royal collection numbers approximately 69,500 objects, including prints and drawings of Polish and other artists. The prints were held in 163 special portfolios, covered in gilt leather with coats of arms. The collection of Stanisław Kostka Potocki containes more than 5,000 prints and more than 300 drawings. The print collection has been enhanced with the Library's current purchases. Equally interesting are the library collections of early imprints and manuscripts, including the archives of Marceli Bacciarelli (containing letters of King Stanisław August), which deserve particular attention. The library also has the valuable Medals and Ancient Art Room. The library holdings were principally directed toward the arts and humanities. Most books concerned theology (one third of the collection) and history. 

1825 -  scientific holdings were augmented with the addition of books from the Medical School 

1831 -  holdings of the Public Library numbered more than 134,000 volumes, including 6,000 early imprints, 2,000 manuscripts, and more then 102,000 items in the Print Room. The library collections were held on the first and second floors of the Kazimierzowski Palace, which was then the seat of the University. Both the Print Room and the Reading Room were located on the first floor and books in each were arranged by subject. A separate part was called the Polish Library, which contained books written by Poles as well as books concerning Poland.

State Library

1831 – November 21, the library was closed with the Tsar's decree of November following the failure of the November Uprising. The majority of holdings, the Print Room, the numismatics collection, the catalogues, and the inventories were moved to St. Petersburg: only about 40,000 imprints and 303 manuscripts in Polish remained in the library. Because the library received no allocation for book purchases, the collection developed randomly.

1834 -  the library was renamed the State Library; later that year the right of receiving the deposit copy was re-established. The holdings were enriched by collections from such institutions as the Society of the Friends of Sciences or the Piarist School, which were closed after the November Uprising. The situation of the library improved by 1840 upon the creation of the Warsaw Scientific District.

1849 - a permanent fund was established for the purchase of books from abroad. Particular attention was devoted to books and periodicals from Russia. Also at that time some valuable collections, including those of Jan Klemens Szaniawski and Samuel Bogumił Linde, were bought by the library.

Main Library

1862 - the library was reactivated with the establishment of the Main School and was then named the Main Library. Its director was Józef Przyborowski and his deputy was the famous bibliographer Karol Estreicher, who used the collection in his work, The Polish Bibliography (Bibliografia polska). Once again the library could acquire scientific books. It received donations from St. Petersburg libraries, books from the Warsaw Censor's Office, as well as collections from various institutions such as the Codyfying Commission, Library of the Governing Senate, and the State Council of the Kingdom of Poland. It also benefited from private collections, such as that of Minister Ignacy Turkułł. It purchased books at auction and from bookstores abroad. During the period of Positivism our library acquired scientific literature in French and German.

After 1864 the impact of Russification was particularly apparent in collection development.

1869 - the Library incorporated the collection of the Ancient History Museum, which included in its holdings archaeological finds, Egyptian mummies, and works of art.

By the end of the 1860's the library held more than 260,000 volumes (some uncatalogued), 742 manuscripts, as well as more than 5,000 periodicals, 1,800 maps, 10,000 coins, and various prints and musical scores.

Tsar’s University Library

1871 – July, two years after the Main School became the Tsar's University, the Library fell under the control of this university. Compared with the Public or Main Library, the Library of the Tsar's University significantly regressed. Books from the Austrian and Prussian sectors were no longer purchased. Through the Office of Censorship it still received imprints from the Polish Kingdom and purchased books from abroad, mainly Russian. The holdings were significantly increased by donations from Russian institutions and individuals. Among these especially valuable were: an 1897 gift from the high-level Russian administrator, Arkady Tolloczanov (more than 15,000 volumes); and the liquidated holdings of the Polish Bank (12,000 volumes). Before World War I the holdings of the Library of the Tsar's University in Warsaw numbered about 610,000 volumes. The library's Rossica collection was acknowledged to be one of the richest in the world, after Russian libraries.

1894 - very important event took place in the life of the library: a new building was opened for use. Before, the space in the Kazimierzowski Palace was hopelessly inadequate. The architectural project was designed by Antoni Jabłoński and Stefan Szyller and represented the newest developments in library technology. The structure, built from 1891 to 1894, consisted of two parts: a 7-story storage area made of cast-iron crates, and a 3-story section reserved for reading rooms, circulation, and technical services. Both parts were separated by an anti-flammatory wall. The building was designed to hold 1,000,000 volumes.

© 2018 University of Warsaw Library
Financial support from the European Commision within the Socrates/Erasmus Programme.