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Library building Print

About the Library building

The University of Warsaw Library is situated in Powiśle district in Dobra street. It is located between Wisła (Vistula) river and the main Campus of the University. It takes about 10 minutes to walk the escarpment up to the Campus and the Royal Route (Krakowskie Przedmieście street). The building was designed by architects Marek Budzyński and Zbigniew Badowski and opened on the 15th of December 1999. The previous nineteenth century building was designed to hold up to 750 000 items. Already in the 1930s. the capacity was exceeded and a new place to keep the collection was urgently required. The political transition after 1989 in Poland gave new possibilities for development and changes in the fields of politics, economy, culture and education. An idea, to move the Library into the huge seat of the former communist party arose, but it appeared impossible for technical reasons.  The initiative of the then prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki to rent that edifice (now Financial Center and Warsaw Stock Exchange) and to use thus generated income to finance a new building for the Library, was a mile-stone.In 1993 tenders were invited for a design of a new library. The winning project by Marek Budzyński and Zbigniew Badowski was under construction from 1994 until 1999.

 

The building consists of two parts (total surface 60 000 m²; surface of the Library 40 000 m²): the front crescent-shape edifice assigned for commercial purpose (shops, cafes, offices) and the main 6-storey high building (2 underground levels – parking lot, shops, bowling center – temporarily rented, will accommodate the Library’s storage in the future) . Both parts are connected by a passage-way covered with a glazed roof. Reinforced concrete, glass and steel are distinctive features of the Library’s architecture. Interior design is also very minimalist – all technical installations (air condition, pipes) are not hidden. A white suspended ceiling is used mostly in the reading areas because of acoustic reasons. The Library’s furnishing, designed specially for the interior, is made from steel, glass and concrete, too. The dominating color is grey. Only the upper part becomes green (the glass-supporting construction). Other colors are “painted” by books and people. There are two entrances to the Library on the ground level – from the south and from the north. They lead to the passage where cloakrooms, exhibition hall, a restaurant and shops are situated. There are also Acquisition Department and Preservation and Conservation Department. A big area is taken by the Library’s storage.The crescent-shape edifice is located on the west from the main building. From the passage a glass door opens to the Library. Above the entrance a huge copper book with Latin inscription HINC OMNIA welcomes visitors. A high flight of steps topped by four columns, leads to the catalogue hall on level 1. Here can be found: catalogues (online and paper – alphabetic and subject catalogues), Reference Desk, Circulation Desk, Interlibrary Loan, Information and Public Service Department and open stacks of four subjects (Language. Literature; Philosophy. Psychology. Religion. Education; History; Geography. Mathematical, Natural and Applied Sciences). The part inaccessible for visitors contains Technical Services Department and NUKAT Center. On level 2 subject areas of: Law. Political Science; Sociology. Anthropology; General Works. Library Science; Music. Architecture. Fine Arts are situated. There are also: the main Reading Room, Current Periodicals Reading Room, Textbooks Collection, Administration Department, Tea Pavilion and NUKAT Center. Computer Department and Serials Department are not accessible for visitors. Level 3 is assigned for Special Collection Rooms (Early Imprints, Print Room, Manuscripts, Maps Collection, Ephemera, Music Collection) and Austrian Library. Part of the complex of the buildings is taken by the Faculty of Law and Administration (entrance from Lipowa street).

The building of the Library is surrounded by green. The façade carrying a huge elevated inscription “ BIBLIOTEKA UNIWERSYTECKA”  is divided by 4 entrances leading to the passage. Under the inscription there are 8 big copper panels (4 to 7 meters) presenting the realm of knowledge, memory and writing. There are excerpts from a Polish Renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski, from Plato, an old-Russian chronicle, from Arabic and Indian classics and from the Bible. There is a score by composer Karol Szymanowski (his works are in the collection of Music Collection) and a sample of mathematical formulas.

 
 
 
 
 
© 2014 University of Warsaw Library
Financial support from the European Commision within the Socrates/Erasmus Programme.