Ephemera Department

Opening hours: Tuesday  9 am - 6 pm , Wednesday - Friday 9 am - 3 pm
tel.: +48 22 55 25 720, e-mail: dzs.buw@uw.edu.pl


Department of Ephemera, established on October 1, 1985, is one of the youngest Library departments. Its collections include all types of materials documenting nearly all domains of everyday life such as posters, brochures, leaflets, photographs, broadsides, calendars, placards, postcards, tape recordings, video recordings, CDs and other unconventional objects (gadgets produced on the occasion of various cultural or political events, etc.). Printed documents included in the collection accompany and reflect the public and propagandist activity of political parties, social organizations, associations, non-governmental organizations, foundations, political, cultural, educational and scientific institutions. They are published in various forms, graphic layouts and designs such as leaflets, books and periodicals. The Ephemera Department collects printed documents published after 1801. Printed documents identified presently as ephemera have been collected by the Library since its first days. Before the Ephemera Department was established, they had been treated and cataloged as books and periodicals according to the contemporary cataloging rules. At present the Department holds 162,528 items (as of 2005). The collection is enhanced with current acquisitions as well as documents moved to the Department from the main collections of the Library which have not yet been cataloged. Valuable materials available to the users of the Ephemera Department include:

  • 19th century publications (rare and unique items published in times of the Duchy of Warsaw, Congress Kingdom of Poland, November Uprising, Great Emigration, Spring of Nations and January Uprising)
  • printed documents published at the beginning of the 20th century
  • documents published between 1914 and 1918 (documents issued by various political parties and organizations, reflecting their attitude toward the future shape of Poland and printed material published by educational, cultural and military organizations)
  • printed material published in the interwar period (items issued by political parties and organizations, valuable and unique documents published at the time of plebiscites organized in the regions of Cieszyn Silesia, Spisz and Orawa and Upper Silesia and numerous objects concerning other social events in various domains of everyday life)
  • printed documents published during World War II by Polish underground organizations and Nazi forces occupying Poland
  • printed objects published in times of the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) (posters and placards, brochures, leaflets and broadsides concerning various domains of everyday life)
  • printed documents published between 1976 and 1989 (circulated unofficially, issued by social and political organizations, documenting the activity of political opposition)
  • printed documents published after 1989
Users of the Ephemera Department have access to the collections of rare printed objects such as publisher, bookseller and antiquarian catalogs, money collector badges (primarily from the interwar period), postcards depicting the buildings of Warsaw University (from the end of the 19th century to the present), prints and publications portraying the university life, window stickers, posters issued in the interwar period, historical stocks and shares, various invitations, banknotes, election broadsides for a range of periods and political bodies, single issues of various stories known as „street literature”, contemporary wall calendars and advertisements. Moreover, they are provided with a small yet valuable collection of foreign publications in Russian, German, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, French, English, Yiddish, etc. Items included in the Department collections originate from Warsaw, the Mazovia region and the territory of whole Poland. Additionally, the Department holds an abundant selection of foreign publications.Early printed ephemera are housed in the Early Imprints Department and ephemera included in the collections of personal papers are available from the Manuscripts Department - the Library users may receive detailed information on those objects in the Ephemera Department.Warsaw University Library Department of Ephemera provides the users with a collection of reference works such as illustrated publications including facsimiles of various types of printed ephemera, dictionaries, encyclopedias, bibliographies and publications discussing ephemera cataloging. INFORMATION ON THE COLLECTIONS Warsaw University Library Department of Ephemera offers its users a number of continuously improved and updated search tools, including:
  • the card catalog which contains descriptions of materials published in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century (before 1945)
  • the card catalog of contemporary publications (published after 1945) which serves as the guide on the Department contemporary collections
  • the Library computer catalog which contains records of selected printed items such as catalogs of auctions and exhibitions
 The catalog of the ephemera collection uses its own subject classification:
  • economy
  •  information and documentation centers
  • culture
  • national minorities
  • science
  • state defense
  • environment protection
  • social organizations
  • education
  • the state and the law
  •  political parties
  • polonica and kresowiana
  • labor
  • sports
  • international relations and contacts
  • technology
  • tourism
  • Warsaw University
  • varsaviana
  • historic events
  • health
  • religious life
  • The collections of Warsaw University Library Department of Ephemera may be viewed on the Department premises only.
  • The user may enter the reading room of the Department with the pass issued by the Information Desk staff. In order to receive the pass the user is requested to show valid Library Card and ID card.
  • More extensive research may be performed only after an appointment made in advance.
  • Copies of items from the Department collections may be requested for further research from the Warsaw University Library Reprographic Services Department on the approval of the Manager of the Ephemera Department only.

 The details on the availability of the Department collections are provided in The rules on the use of  Warsaw University Library Special Collections. 

3rd floor, rooms 311 and 312 

Opening hours:
Tuesday  9 am - 6 pm
Wednesday - Friday 9 am - 3 pm
For July and August opening hours consult the Library website (http://www.buw.uw.edu.pl/) 


University of Warsaw Library
Ephemera Department Dobra 56/6600-312 Warsaw
Phone: + 48 22 55 25 720 (Head of Dept.), + 48 22 55 25 722 (reading room)
E-mail: dzs.buw@uw.edu.pl