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History

The Silesian Library is the oldest library in the Upper Silesia. It was founded around the end of 1922 and the beginning of 1923 as the Library of the Silesian Parliament. Since then it has become one of the most flourishing institutions propagating culture in the region. In the 1930s the Silesian Library was transformed into a public library with a scientific profile. It has been performing this function until today. At first the Library’s collection was limited to aprox. 1000 volumes in the first year of its functioning and comprised mainly legal titles. After a time the collection expanded and completely changed in its character. Today there are to be found titles belonging to every branch of knowledge, the latest periodicals, but also very interesting old prints. These are kept in the Special Collection Division, beside particularly valuable incunabula, manuscripts, iconographic and cartographic materials.

In 1934 the Silesian Library moved to its many years’ standing place of residence in Francuska Street in Katowice. The building, though very beautiful in itself, did not meet the needs of such a large library. And the needs grew steadily, particularly since the Library began to receive legal deposit in 1969. Year after year a number of users rose, who were not only students of the newly opened subjects in the Silesian University, but also other inhabitants of the region. There was no place for appropriate storage of valuable materials, and conservation of prone to serious damage old books was virtually impossible. In the 1980s there had occurred numerous mining damages which caused the deterioration in condition of old buildings. Storage in Francuska Street was designed to be sufficient for a hundred thousand volumes, while the needs turned out to be five times higher. The situation was difficult also for the users. The books were scattered in four different buildings, one of which was situated in Bytom. In June 1989 a competition for a design of a new library was completed and two years later a foundation stone was laid. Prof. Malicki became the director of the Silesian Library. A design for the building has been prepared by the group of architects ARAR, its members were Marek Gierlotka, Jurand Jarecki and Stanisław Kwaśniewicz.

On February 28, 1991 the Public Committee of Help for the Silesian Library was created in order to raise funds for the realization of the project, and to promote the idea of building a new storage for so badly needed institution. On October 24, 1998 the opening ceremony took place. The new Silesian Library is the most state of the art library in Poland and one of few best equipped libraries in Europe, it meets the highest world standards.


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