International presentation of Catalogue of Extant Manuscripts from the Former Załuski Library – the First Polish National Library - News - The National Library

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International presentation of Catalogue of Extant Manuscripts from the Former Załuski Library – the First Polish National Library

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The National Library of Poland has published a new Catalogue of Extant Manuscripts from the Former Załuski Library – the First Polish National Library. The catalogue is the result of a long-term documentation project carried out by the National Library of Poland and the Russian National Library in St Petersburg, financed by the Polish Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport.

The "Library of the Republic", as it was known, was founded in the eighteenth century by the Załuski brothers and was one of the largest and most important libraries in Europe. During the Partitions of Poland, its collections were broken up and taken abroad. The two largest surviving parts of the collections are today found in Warsaw and St Petersburg, along with smaller collections in the Central Archives of Historical Records, Warsaw University Library, the Princes Czartoryski Library in Cracow, the Jagiellonian Library, the Kórnik Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the State Archive in Łódź and the Russian State Library in Moscow.

The new catalogue documents all the manuscripts once stored in the Załuski Library that have survived the years of turmoil. It represents the culmination of several years of research by leading specialists and brings to an end the latest, major chapter in the ongoing collaboration between librarians in Poland and Russia. The catalogue runs to almost 1,000 pages and contains descriptions of 2,300 manuscripts, of which 1,894 are held in the National Library of Poland. It includes comprehensive introductions to the contents of the catalogue by Polish and Russian authors, as well as indexes and lists of catalogue numbers.

Collaboration between the National Library of Poland and the Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library, the successor to the Imperial Public Library, began in 1957. As a result of joint efforts, the National Library of Poland has acquired microfilms of valuable inventories and manuscripts relevant for the history of the Załuski Library. The cooperation has expanded rapidly since 2009, an important landmark being the signing in 2013 of a Supplementary Agreement to the contract of collaboration between the National Library in Warsaw and the Russian National Library in St Petersburg regarding the project "The Reconstruction of the Załuski Library. Extant Manuscripts".

As part of the 2013 Supplementary Agreement, the directors of the two libraries – Dr Tomasz Makowski of the National Library of Poland and Dr Anton V. Lichomanov, then Director of the Russian National Library – committed their institutions to cooperating on research into historical manuscripts and collections from the former Załuski Library, one of the first European national libraries and the first in Poland. An initial achievement of the joint project was the National Library of Poland's publication of the Dubrowski Inventory, drawn up in St Petersburg in 1806-07 and stored in local collections. As part of the project, a group of Polish experts in the field of manuscripts conducted multi-stage searches of the manuscript collections of the Russian National Library, while a team of experts from Russia carefully examined the manuscripts held by the National Library in Warsaw.

On Friday, October 16, Catalogue of Extant Manuscripts from the Former Załuski Library – the First Polish National Library was officially presented before an international audience as part of an online conference. The event was attended by the current directors of the National Libraries of Poland and Russia – Dr Tomasz Makowski and Alexander Vershinin, the Director of the Polish Institute in St Petersburg – Ewa Ziółkowska – and the authors of the publication itself: Dr Krzysztof Kossarzecki, Dr Tomasz Szwaciński, Olga Bleskina and Natalia Elagina. Speeches from the conference were recorded and are available here.

Catalogue of Extant Manuscripts from the Former Załuski Library – the First Polish National Library in available from the online bookshop of the National Library of Poland.