History of the Library of the Poznań Society of Friends of Sciences

The Library of the Poznań Society of Friends of Sciences’ history is strictly connected to the history of the Society itself which was established in 1857, in Poznań. The two libraries functioned then in Poznań, the Library of Kórnik established in 1826 and the Library of Raczyńscy opened in 1829, could not fully provide for the local scientific environment’s needs. The first library did not collect the latest literature according to natural and exact sciences, while the second was suppose to serve mainly the didactical and popularizing aims. Accordingly to the situation described above, creating a library the task of which would be collecting and rendering accessible the current scientific literature was necessary. Since 1857 books were donated to the Society by Poznań bibliopolists, like: Jan Konstanty Żupanski [illustration 1] or Napoleon Kamieński. In 1858 Gustaw Potworowski donated the Gostyń Cassino’s collections of books [illustration 2].

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A short time later the historian’s Jedrzej Moraczewski’s collection came to the Society. After 1872 the Library received the earl’s Seweryn Mielżyński’s from Mirosław [illustration 3] collections of books which contained 5000 volumes. In 1880 the contemporary president of the Society, Stanisław Egbert Koźmian donated to the Society the most precious gift: books that left his brother Jan Koźmian, [illustration 4] who was a canon priest. This collection constituted of over 8000 volumes and contained significant positions of European literature and science since the 15th till the 19th century. The library was patronized by Hieronim Feldmanowski (since 1868 until 1881) and by Klemens Kantecki (since 1882 until 1885).

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In 1885 the Society’s management noticed that it was necessary to completethe collections with the latest scientific publications. The particular Society’s departments took charge of completing literatureof exact science. Circa 1874 a specialized medical reading room was created in the Society’s building. Asignificant part of the collections of the medical department was acquired from a medical doctor and historian Ludwik Gąsiorowski. He used them to write the first monograph of the medicine’s history in Poland - "Zbiór wiadomości do historii sztuki lekarskiej w Polsce od czasów najdawniejszych ażdo najnowszych". T. 1-4. Poznań1839-1856 (Set of the message to the history of the physic in Poland from the most former times all the way to newest. T 1-4, Poznań1839 –1856) [illustration 5]. Before the outbreak  of the First World War in the Medical Department of the Society there werenearly 150 members and about 200 medical doctors practicing in the Grand Duchy of Poznań. The “Medical Department’s Library”formally endured until 1945 when its collections’part was given to the others Poznańinstitution.


In the eighties of the 19th century there was separateda second specialized collection of books containing volumes of natural sciences . Itsprotector remained dr Franciszek Chłapowskiwho had beenthe president of the Society’s Natural Sciences’ Departmentfor a long time. 

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The general reading room,destined mainly for the Society’s members,wasestablishedin the 1893. It was opened every day. Several years later the Library already owed 100 thousand volumes belonging to various branches of knowledge and was the biggest Polish library in the Prussian Partition. Since 1885 until 1919 its protector was a philologist dr Bolesław Erzepki. Moreover, he was the one who in 1913 created a catalogue of books’ collection which was being proceeded until 1953.


The Society’s collections served significantly the Polish science during the difficult period when it was deprived of the state’s protectorate and forced to be based on social and private patronage. The collections were used to write scientific publications by, inter alia, Oskar Kolberg, Aleksander Brückner, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski and also by manyscientists of Poznańand of Great Poland. Published onthe Society's initiativeKodeks dyplomatyczny Wielkopolski. T.1-5, Poznań1877-1908. (Diplomatic Codex of the Great Poland. T.1-5, Poznań1877-1908.) [illustration 6] significantly complied the collection of the  diplomas gained there. 

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When Poland regained independence in 1918 the Society began a new stage of its existence. After establishing the University of Poznań(the first rector of which was Heliodor Święcicki, the president of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences) and after necessary reorganization of the Society its members had to decide about the future of itscollections. They (the collection of natural science, the archeological collection and the picture gallery) were promoted to the management of specialized schools and only the Library remained the Society’s department. Because of its financial problems it was temporarily promoted to themaintenance of theUniversity Libraryof University which completed its Polish scientific literature with a collection of books containing 120 thousands volumes.


In 1919 the head of the library became Dr Ludwika Dobrzyńska – Rybicka. Between1919 and1927 the Library had the right to the legal depositofprints embossed on the former Russian Partition’s territory. Until 1930 there were much more volumes borrowed from the Library than from the University Library. The main source of the Library’s acquisitions was then the exchange of the Society’s publications lead with tens of scientific institutions aroundall continents.


In 1937 the head of the Library became dr Jan Baumgart (1904-1989), the posterior director of the Jagellonian Library. In 1939 the catalogued Library’s collections consisted of 154 000 volumes all together, herein 1912 manuscript (about 830 catalogued), 1492 cartographic items and 1330 musicalia.  


The Library’s activity terminated completely in 1939 as its collections wereentirely diffused during the War. The precious collections were taken to Germany or placed in the palaces in Cerekwica, Obrzysk and Smogulec. Some collections were delivered to the University Library but the most of them were located in Poznańchurches from where lots of them were taken away and used for pulping. Over 250 catalogued code –manuscripts were never found after the War. The whole Łuszczewski’s and Karśnicki’s archives and almost all great Rydzyna archives of Sułkowscy(a Polish family a Polish of nobility and gentry consisting of famous) placed in 800 big boxes were lost. Over 1000 cartograms and the same number of musicalia vanished. In 1939 the Library possessed 163 incunabula but in 1953 thirty less of them. Moreover, the 50% of the documentation was lost. In 1945, after the Germans escaped from Poznań, there was no single book in the Society’s building!


After the War the collections’ restoration’s and regaining of collections process was carried out by a small group of  librarians directed by Jan Baumgart and by his deputy mgr Aniela Kochlerówna. The library’s books diffused around Poznańand its environs were being conveyed. Moreover, its collections were enriched with collections from manor houses, from the Great Poland territory. This way the Library gained, inter alia, about 4000 volumes of August Cieszkowski from Wierzenica [illustration 7], the first Society’s president, more than 5000 books from Mielżyńscy’s palace in Iwno and about 400 books of the Brez family from Więckowice.  In 1949 a collection containing 280 atlases and maps was regained from under Dresden [illustration 8]

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          The library was opened again on the 15th of December 1947. In the changed social and political conditions it started to serve Poznaństudents and scientists as a traditional library. In 1948 Anna Kochlerówna (1882-1969) became the head and in 1957 the director of the Library.


The Academy of Sciences, established in 1952, a year later took under its protectorate the Society’s Library which was this way withdrawn from the PoznańUniversity’s guardianship. During the post-war tens the Library’s collections were extended quickly, mostly by purchasing but also by acquiring ten of exchange stations placed on all continents. It widely popularized knowledge about Polish books and culture by, inter alia, organizing in 1953 a great exhibition titled: Książka w kulturze polskiej (Books within Polish culture). The exhibition was seen by 2500 people. In 1963 the Society’s board committed the management to mgr Bernard Olejniczak. In the sixties and seventies of the 20th century he gave the Library modern organizational structure. In 1964 on his application the Society’s General Meeting adopted a resolution of limiting collecting works belonging to widely comprehended liberal arts.


In 1980 the Library’s management was taken by dr Ryszard Marciniak. Then the collections were transferred to the new storage space and the Library was modernized inside. The modernization was done with taking care both of esthetics and functionality and, simultaneously, of preserving its monumental character. In 1987 one of the first computers, among the Poznańlibraries, started working in the Library which facilitated significantly readers’service. Under the director’smanagement there was undertaken work on the Great Poland’s history’s retrospective bibliography. In the nineties professor Marciniak participated in creating the PoznańFoundation of Scientific Libraries. The foundation was established in 1997 and today unites the eleven greatest libraries which use the same computer system “Horison”.


After director’s Marciniak’s death in January 2009 the acting manager was, for over a year, mgr Elżbieta Stelmaszczyk who secured consecutive and efficient Library’s functioning.


The electronic sharing systems are consequently being modernized by The Library of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences. In spring 2010 an uncharged access to the global data bases, like: “Ebsco”, “Elzevier”, “Springer”, “Web of knowledge”, was introduced within the framework of a ministerial programme. Together with the permanent increase of the collection (both in accordance with the new and to the old publications) the editorial activity is being emphasized. It was proved by, inter alia, the debut Library’s participation in PoznańMuseum Night and in Archives Open Day.