The collection of books of the Library of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences was formed already in the 19th century thank to the donations and purchases which shaped its present form and its collection containing nearly 330 thousands volumes. Today the Library collects and preserves not only modern prints but also special collections consisting of old prints, maps and atlases, iconography and bookplates.

New compact forms and journals

Until 1964 the Library collected publications of all fields of knowledge but since 1964 – books of liberal arts. Especially collected are Polish and European history, history and theory of Polish literature, Indo - European linguistics, law, political science, sociology, psychology and earth science. Moreover, the Library possesses a rich collection  of regional and Slavic literature containing rare in Poland Sorbian literature collected by the Library since the 19th century.

      Estimated division of prints concerning the field of knowledge in percentage:

•      general publications, philosophy, religious studies – 10%

•      historical sciences – 22%

•      belles-lettres and theory of literature – 22%

•      linguistics – 7%

•      other social sciences – 24%

•      others – 15%

Estimated division concerning the language:

•      in Polish – 60%

•      in German – 12%

•      in French – 6%

•      in English – 7%

•      in Russian – 4%

•      in Latin – 2%

•      in Slavic languages (except Polish and Russian) – 4%

•      in others languages – 5%

In the Library of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences much attention is paid to collecting the 19th century Polish books published on the territories of the three partitions. That is why today we are proud of possessing one of the richest in Poland collection of books belonging to this field which is actively explored by Polish and foreign researchers. Among our prints there are: remains after hundreds(!) collections of books existing in the 19th century on the territory of Polish land. They are evidenced by file of provenance containing all together 300 surnames and names of institutions. Except the rich collection of the most important 19th century first editions of publications of Polish literature we possess circa 600 leaflets referring to the historical events of the Spring of Nations which took place in 1848, nearly all stenographic reports of Prussian Diet and Reichstag, many brochures written by politicians and social activists who mostly originated from the Great Poland, the most valuable editions of Polish literature published in the country and in exile. Moreover, there is a great collection of over 470 Polish doctoral dissertations coming from the19th and from the beginning of the 20th centuries, written mainly by inhabitants of the Great Poland who studied at foreign universities. We also possess a collection deriving from 1919 - 1927 which consists of 500 statutes of various institutions functioning in the Polish territory. Among the old journals for a special attention deserves, inter alia, the collection of the periodicals published in the Grand Duchy of Poznań.

Special Collections


The collection of manuscripts was primarily based on donations. The first acquisitions were: Cyprian Godebski, Wiersz do legiów polskich [Poem for Polish legions], Stanisław Leszczyński, “Głos wolny wolnośćubezpieczający”[Free voice assuring freedom] [illustration 1]and tens of parchment documents which had belonged to monasteries and churches of the Great Poland.

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             The hand-written Library’s collections have historical and literary character. They mainly consist of manuscripts referring to Poznańand to the Great Poland. The oldest originates from the Middle Ages [illustration 2]but the most of them are from the19th and 20th centuries. In the middle of the 2010 the Library contained 1564 manuscripts. Among the Library’s hand-written precious books there are, inter alia, the herbarium from ”Neman’s wises and fields” collected by Eliza Orzeszkowa and the manuscript of the first two-acts-version of Halka, an opera written by Stanisław Moniuszko deriving from 1846 or 1847. We possess also hundreds of Polish writers’dramas from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and many schools texts from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. After the Second World War the Library acquired, inter alia, fragments of archives of gentry of Great Poland and manuscripts of works of Tadeusz Różewicz, a famous dramatist and poet. Last time we received a very valuable collection of documents concerning the establishment of the Zamoyski Academy in 1594, a book containing patriotic texts from the first half of the19th century and we purchased Paul Cassino’s (1881-1963) rich collection of correspondence.

          Parchment diplomas, taken during the occupation to the Germany, were returned by the Soviet Union in 1958 in the amount of 474 and today are placed in the National Archives in Poznań.       



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                       The Library possesses 152 incunabula. They are mostly religious works originating from German and Italian printing houses. For a special attention deserve works of exact sciences, like, De astrorum scientia of Leopoldus de Austria (Augsburg 1489) containing many notes from that period [illustration 3]. In 1995 thank to the donation of the City Office’s in Poznańwe purchased an excellent Roman work about medical care written by Aulus Cornelius Celsus: De medicina libri 8 (Venetia, 1497). Another incunabulum worth mentioning is collection of sermons consisted of two parts: De tempore et de sanctis (Strasburg 1494-1495) the authors of which are Mikołaj z Błoni [Illustration 4], a Poznańcathedral preacher and Erazm Ciołek, a Poznańchaplain bishop. The most of our incunabula have original gothic binding, some show a very high artistic level. Many of them were bound in Poznańin the end of the15th century [illustration 5].

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Old prints

Particularly precious is a collection of old prints containing over 15 thousands volumes. It consists mostly of works purchased by inhabitants of Great Poland and institutions functioning in this region since the end of the Middle Ages until the18th century. These works were the base of the establishment of the Library in the 19th century. Many of them are based on the European Culture works of writers and scholars who lived in those times, published in printing centers all the way from Spain and Portugal to Russian.

The Library preserves 1411 prints from the 16th century, 562 of which are polonica. They contain the first two editions of Mikołaj Kopernik’s work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. Nuremberg 1543, Basel 1566. [illustration 6]and the famous book of Józef StruśIn Sphygmicae artis iam mille ducentos perditae et desideratae libri V Basel 1555. [illustration 7]. Worth mentioning is also the first Polish popular naturalistic-medical encyclopedia written by Stefan Falimirz and published by Florian Ungler in Cracow in 1534. The collection also contains Polish and foreign editions of Andreas Fricius ModreviusCommentariorum De Republica emendanda libri quinque (Five Books of Commentaries on the Improvement of Commonwealth, or Rozważańo poprawie Rzeczypospolitej ksiąg pięćin Polish) and chronicles and stories written by: Maciej from Miechów, Marcin Bielski, Maciej Stryjkowski, Aleksander Gwagnin and by others. We also possess all three Basel editions of the Marcin Kromer’s bestseller: De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum”.        


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By the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences old prints all 16th century Polish publishing houses are represented. Most of the prints originate from Cracovian printing offices (of Kasper Hochfoder [illustration 8], of Jan Haller, Łazarz Andrysowicz, Andrzej Piotrkowczyk, Maciej Szarffenberg and Mateusz Chwastow and others) but also from: Brest Litovsk (Cyprian, Bazylik), Chwastów (Wereszczyński), Gdansk (Jakub Rhode), Konigsberg (Jan Daubmann), Legnica, Łosk (Jak Karcan), Łowicz, Lvov, Nysa, Pińczów, Poznań[illustration 9], Thorn, Vilno, Wroclaw and Zamość.

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Among many foreign Renaissance prints worth mentioning are works of saint Cyprian published in 1521 in the Jan Froben’s famous Basel publishing house. Moreover, the library possesses the extraordinarily elaborated Pacis querela of Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus from 1518, printed in the famous Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius [illustration 10].The Italian 16th century culture is represented by a valuable collection of architectural treatises written by: Leon B. Alberti, Pietro Cataneo and Sebastian Serlio. The treatises have both form of separate volumes and of, so called, blocks containing several prints bound together. [illustration 11].  

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Among the 17th century polonica there are three copies of Simon Syrenius Herbarium (Cracow 1613) [illustration 12].In one of them – deriving probably from the RadziwiłłLibrary in Nieśwież–all woodcuts are spectacularly coloured. Worth mentioning are also the three next editions of Jakub Haur’s Oekonomika Ziemiańska(English: Gentry economics). A considerable interest arouse works of Jan Jonston who was a doctor and a naturalist living in Szamotuły and in Leszno, including his famous “Historia naturalis”. Its each part: about birds, fish, quadrupeds, snakes and insects, published in Amsterdam and in Frankfurt on the Main in the middle of the17th century, is richly illustrated by Mateusz Merian Młodszy’s engravings. On the Library’s shelves there are Amsterdam editions of the old Froissard’s and Commine’s chronicles, polonica from the Elzewirs’publishing house [illustration 13], Andrzej Rutkowic’s work: “Cteticae id est de modis aquirendi” from 1650 - referring to Polish trade.

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The embellishment  of the collections is a work of a Gdansk astronomer – Johannes Hevelius: “Machinae celestis”(Gdansk 1673) containing 35 engravings which picture: equipment for sky’s observation [illustration 14]including the longest then telescope constructed by the author himself. To the most effective modern polonica of our collections belong two copies of the Samuel Pufendorf’s work: “De rebus a Carolo Gustavo” commemorating the Charles X Gustav’s military campaign, including the Deluge. [illustration 15].

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From the 18th century, the Library possesses, inter alia, many richly illustrated albums: historical, monumental and mythological. Among the voluminous publications worth mentioning is an edition of works of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (Lyon 1703-1706) which consists of ten volumes. A French bibliographer from the beginning of 20th century, Jacques Charles Brunet, wrote that it was the most beautiful and the most complete edition of Erasmus's works. In 1991 we acquired one of the preserved only in a few Polish libraries copy of the second edition of the main Newton’s work: Philosopiae naturalis principia mathematica. Amsterdam 1714. [ilustration 16]. Among polonica worth mentioning there is, inter alia, the first edition of Dlugossius Annales. Leipsic 1711-1712.        

It is worth saying that in the collections of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences there are many prints which have artistic bindings which allow to trace the history  of Art Bindings, especially on Polish lands. Particularly precious are Cracow and Poznańbindings from the16th century, as they strongly evince the influence of Italian Renaissance [illustration 17]. Lots of bindings were decorated by superbookplates (super ex libres), many of which commemorate famous royal libraries (Sigismund II Augustus I), baronial libraries (f. e.x Andrzej Opaliński), bishop’s libraries (f. ex. Benedykt Izdbieński) [illustration 18]. Presently there is being implemented a program of cataloguing all Polish superbookplates from the16th, 17th and18th which are in our Library.


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The Library has collected cartographic items since the beginning of its existence and it published the second, after Edward Rastawiecki’s Mappografia dawna (English: Old cartography) (Warsaw 1846), catalogue of cartographic collections elaborated by Edmund Callier: Spis map geograficznych w zbiorach Towarzystwa PrzyjaciółNauk Poznańskiego(English: Geographical maps’ register within the collections of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences) (Poznań1884). Callier collected tens of atlases and few hundreds of maps of which he made two great, artificial atlases. One of them remains today in the Library’s collections but of the second one there are only fragments left now because of the War damages. During the interwar period the Library received collections of the Kosińscy family from Targowa Górka within which there is a great number of old military maps from 19th century. Cartographic collections were seriously damaged during the Second World War. Today they contain over 400 atlases which were being published since the16th till the 20th centuries and over 1400 maps having various provenance and value – all together 1822 object [illustrations 19 and 20].

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The present iconographic collection was actually collected after the Second World War. The older collections, including 6.246 original graphics, the Society gave temporarily to the Wielkopolskie Museum (English: the Museum of the Great Poland), the present National Museum in Poznań, in a form of a cost-free commodate during the interwar period. The present collection contains, predominantly, albums with photographs evidencing cultural and scientific life of the Great Poland during the second half of the19th century and the 20th century. It constitutes of 710 objects which sometimes consist of tens of single photographs. Together it contains about 8500 original photographs, including copies and album prints and some original graphics and pictures. 

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           The collection contains, inter alia, 21 Greger’s photographs picturing the Great Poland military swearing which took place in Poznańon the 21st of January 1919 [illustration 21]and the military mission of allied powers in May 1919, photographs concerning Poland collected by Polish immigrants in London since 1939 till 1945 (photograph 61), collection of Cieszkowscy’s from Wierzenica photographs, collection of prominent Polish people’s photographs made by the Wojciech Piechowski’s workshop in Warsaw between 1880 and 1882 (photograph 19), collection of photographs evidencing the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences in 1957 (photograph 82), gravestones of the Great Poland inhabitants in the Cemetery of Saint Martin from 1958 (photograph18), picture of Polish deputies of the Prussian Diet from 1864-1872 (photograph 76) and the naturalists’and medical doctors’congress in Poznańin 1884 (245 millimeter photographs). The collection of old pictures depicting Poznańand Great Poland buildings is very useful for researchers of Great Poland. [illustration 22].



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The collection  of bookplates is the latest collection of the Library of the PoznańSociety of Friends of Sciences. It was created in 2002 after coming into the Library the gift of professor Antoni Gąsiorowski–the album containing original Stanisław Ostoi- Chrostowski’s bookplates (Warsaw 1937) [illustration 23]and the album with over a dozen Witold Gawęcki’s bookplates (Warsaw 1939). Last time collecting of bookplates which are strictly connected with books has been intensified. The impulse for doing this was receiving from doctor Norbert Zawisza a collection of nearly 100 Polish and European bookplates since the 17th century until the beginning of the19th century [illustration 24]. At present we concentrate on collecting bookplates which have a great historical and artistic value and on bookplates of creators from Poznańand Great Poland. Last time we acquired, inter alia, the complete legacy of exlibris of Andrzej Kandziora from Poznań, which includes print tests, variants of works and designs of them [illustration 25]

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