History

1919 - Decision to establish the municipal library of Jablonec nad Nisou

1920 - Beginning of the Czech public library called Jiráskova since 1921

1921 - Opening of the German reading room

1923 - Opening of the German municipal library

1933 - Opening of the Czech reading room

1938 - Closure of the Czech public library

1945 - Reopening of the Czech public library

1951 - Change into the district library

1996 - Municipal Library of Jablonec nad Nisou again

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The journey through the history of libraries in Jablonec nad Nisou begins in the 1860s. At that time, Jablonec was experiencing an economic boom that went hand in hand with a considerable development in education, science and culture, driven in large part by the social and political changes taking place in what was then Austria.

An important milestone in the development of Czech education was the foundation of Ústřední matice školská (the Central School Foundation) in 1880 as a guarantor of the establishment and operation of Czech-language minority schools, especially in the German-speaking borderland. It was these schools and their library collections, which before 1848 had been mostly public, that served a wider circle of readers. During what has become known as Bach’s Absolutism, however, it was forbidden to set up libraries without approval from the higher authorities, and the public role of school libraries gradually receded. The dwindling occurred particularly in the 1860s. As a result, public libraries began to evolve outside of school facilities. Thereafter, school libraries only served students and teachers.

The legalisation of public activity, enshrined in the association law of 1867, was an important prerequisite for the foundation of associations, and it benefited books and libraries, too. Individual associations not only set up their own library collections, but very often also supported newly founded municipal libraries.

At that time, the population of the Jablonec District was predominantly German, so Czech minority associations numbered just a few there. In 1870, Nikolaus Stahl, an accountant, founded the association called Česká beseda. Probably from the very beginning, the association had its own association library. Another important Czech association in Jablonec was Sokol, founded in 1893.. These two associations, together with the local branch of Národní jednota severočeská and the Havlíček national and social support collective, made up the four associations around which the entire social life of the Czech minority in Jablonec revolved.

Adolf Lilie, a teacher, was responsible for the first attempts at opening a public library in Jablonec in 1884. However, he lacked the support of the authorities in the municipality: the library was dependent on donors and volunteers, and goodwill was not enough to develop it.

The year 1919 was generally important for library development in the First Czechoslovak Republic. That year saw the enactment of the law on public municipal libraries (Act No. 430/1919 Coll.). The law required all political municipalities to set up libraries, resulting in an increase in their number. Municipalities with national minorities had to establish independent minority libraries or at least minority sections.

Based on this law, the German Local Education Committee (Der Deutsche Ortsbildungsausschuß) was founded in Jablonec. The task of the Committee was to set up public libraries, organise talks, training courses, theatrical performances, as well as other educational activities. Immediately after its foundation, the Committee decided to establish a public library and a reading room in the town. The opening of the reading room on the premises of the local commercial vocational school came first, on 1 April 1921. Two years later, on 7 July 1923, it was followed by the opening of the German Library of the Town of Jablonec n. N. (Die Deutsche Bücherei der Stadt Gablonz a. N.) in one room of an all-girls' school.

The foundation of the Library had been supported by a number of local celebrities, among others by one Dr. Anton Randa, who died in 1918 and bequeathed to it a fairly large sum of money and his personal library. Julius Streit, a teacher, was appointed librarian of the German Library.

From the very outset, there had been efforts to unite the reading room and the library and to extend the lending time. These efforts were finally crowned with success in 1926.

In 1933, the town’s administration moved to a newly built town hall and the old one, on what today is the Dolní náměstí (Lower Square) was altered to be able to house the library. The library opened in the new venue at the end of August of the same year. In 1941, marking the Week of the German Book, the District Roving Library (Kreis-Wander-Bücherei) was handed over for useand started lending out sets of books to libraries in the smaller municipalities within the district. The history of the German Library in Jablonec came to an end after the close of World War Two in 1945. The demise of the library was a logical consequence of the situation at that time.

Alongside the German Library Council and the German Local Education Committee, an independent Czech Education Community carrying out tasks in its own sphere of responsibility also existed in Jablonec. In 1920, the Community decided to set up a Czech public library in the town. As Jablonec was still a predominantly German town at that time, the newly established library was only a minority one.

Book donations from Czech associations were essential for the initial creation of the library stocks of this Czech library. Later, a number of other organisations and individuals provided books and made financial contributions to the library. A teacher of the local all-boys' school, Jaroslav Šorejs, took on the role of librarian and was responsible for the library’s operation until 1938. The library had to move very often. A turning point for the better came in 1933, when the German library moved to the old town hall and the Czech library acquired rooms in the adjacent one-storey house. This was also where the Czech library operated, with some difficulties, until September 1938, when it was closed down and its activities completely stopped. Czechoslovakia had lost its borderland, which meant heavy casualties for many of the Czech libraries within it. The Jablonec minority library was, in a way, lucky, as the bookseller and later municipal politician, Josef Florián, entered its history at that time. Josef Florián bought the library stocks in 1940 and founded a private book-lending establishment in Turnov, where he had relocated his bookshop and where he spent World War Two. In this way, he probably saved the book collection from destruction. The books were returned to Jablonec in 1946 to become the basis of the stock of the Public Municipal Lending and Reference Library, which opened after the war.

The first administrator of the post-war Czech library was Josef Kristek, who made great efforts to rebuild it, a task not at all easy at that time. Luckily, the library was able to obtain rooms for its activities in the old town hall, where the German library had been closed down. Initially, the Czech library also took over the book stock as well as the employees of the German library. The Public Municipal Reference Library first opened on 15th August 1945. Regular book-lending started on 11th February 1946. In December 1946, a separate section for children and youth was opened.

In the same year, the Ministry of Education and Culture founded the State Complementary Library for the Political District of Jablonec nad Nisou. The purpose of this library was to lend out book sets to smaller libraries within the Jablonec District, which were able to extend their book stock in this way. This was in fact similar to the Kreis-Wander-Bücherei run by the German Municipal Lending and Reference Library.

February 1948 marked a turning point, including for Czech libraries. Within the literary culture of communism building, librarians were supposed to take part in the transformation of the reader into the desired socialist person by means of books. Librarians, as a result, had to know not only what the reader was supposed to read, but also what way of reading was the correct one. This prompted the creation of a number of reading plans, model reading manuals for specific works of literature and the organisation of group readings, as well as mass events to promote the reading of preselected books. At this time, Czechoslovakia was culturally separated from the West: the import of Western press ceased and Soviet literature dominated the translation industry. Printing and publishing houses were nationalised.

Shortly after the war, questions arose regarding the amendment of the library law of 1919. A new law was passed in 1959 which entered the history of librarianship as the Act on the Single System of Libraries (No. 53/1959 Coll.). At the top of the system was the State Library of the Czechoslovak Republic as the central library, with individual libraries being grouped within an organised library network. Within each network, one library was responsible for methodologically managing the activities of the rest. The backbone of the network were the People’s Libraries (local, district and regional), established in every municipality by the competent National Committee.

Pursuant to the new library law, a methodological department was founded at the Jablonec Library, which began to work together with local libraries. Gradually, the libraries on the outskirts of the town – Paseky, Mšeno and Vrkoslavice – were integrated as branches of the Jablonec Library.

The end of the 1960s brought an important limitation to the operation of the Jablonec Library. January 1969 saw the beginning of an extensive renovation of the entire old town hall, where the library had its headquarters. The building was at that time marking the 100th anniversary of its construction. Originally intended for administrative purposes, its design comprised many smaller rooms that were naturally not suitable for the functions of a library. The renovation had been planned for two years, but took as many as nine, not being completed until 1978. During that time, the library was temporarily relocated to an auxiliary theatre building.

The beginning of the 1970s once again heralded, just as the 1950s had, a massive removal from the library stocks of books that were regarded as ideologically unfit for the socialist reader, either due to their content or their authors, responsible editors or illustrators. Generally, the 1970s and 1980s were periods in which libraries were forced to operate according to prescribed models. This meant implementing plans, carrying out assessments of activities, organising small exhibitions, talks and lectures for the various regime anniversaries, fulfilling the commitments under the Socialist Work Brigades programme, as well as participating in competitions, such as Building a Model People’s Library, Fučík‘s Badge and Red Ribbon.

1989 marked a fundamental break with the past in all spheres of life, including those of libraries. However, the process of denationalisation and the abolition of the single system of libraries also had its downside in that no efforts were made to create a functioning network of library services. The activities of individual libraries largely took place in isolation during that period.

At a number of locations, public libraries run by municipalities lost their legal personalities to become administrative parts of other cultural institutions, such as galleries and museums, with often totally different roles and purposes. As a result, cooperation between libraries depended on the understanding and willingness of the management of those institutions. In some cases, local councils would deliberately abuse public libraries and make them responsible for tasks completely unrelated to their actual roles.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the volume of financial resources for libraries to draw on when buying works of literature has gradually been reduced. The reason behind this is the overall cutbacks in library budgets, combined with a steady increase in the operational and salary costs. The rise of these costs has gone hand in hand with the soaring prices of Czech literature in the book market, which have increased by 203% since 1989.

On the other hand, this period has also seen the start of large-scale automation in Czech libraries. The primary deployment of computers, the conversion of classical card catalogues into an electronic format, the creation and operation of new databases, the integration of libraries into networks including the Internet – all these have required extraordinary investment funds. Thanks to the US Mellon Foundation, an automated network of Czech and Slovak libraries was set up under the CASLIN project.

1996 brought about an important organisational change for the Jablonec Library, with other libraries across the district likewise affected. As from 1 April 1996, the obligation for the District Authority to run the library ceased to exist; the library was passed over to the administration of the Municipal Authority of Jablonec nad Nisou. Based on an agreement between both authorities, the regional role of the library was preserved and it was able to undertake activities both at municipal as well as at district levels.

The library set up its own computer network and connected to the Internet with assistance of a grant from the Ministry of Culture. The lending system in the individual sections of the library was automated and an electronic protection of the book stock was put in place. The music section was converted into a multimedia section.

In 2002, pursuant to the Act on Libraries and the Conditions for Operating Public Library and Information Services (No. 257/2001 Coll.), the library was assigned responsibility for the exercise of regional duties. In 2005, the library switched in all its operations to Clavius, a new library system. In the following year, it launched a new website. In 2011, a HERBIE book return box was placed outside the library building.

The library strives, as far as possible, to respond to the current needs of its users, to follow new library trends, offer new services (Order Your Book, Book Delivery to Your Home, Delivery of Documents in Electronic Format (eDDO), database access, e-book readers, theme reading packages, lending of board games and theme cases) and to make use of available grants to keep its members and visitors happy and make them want to return.

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Source:

Nosková, Jitka. Jablonecká knihovna v proudu času. 1. vyd. Liberec: Nakladatelství Bor; Jablonec nad Nisou: Městská knihovna Jablonec nad Nisou, 2013. 143 s. ISBN 978-80-87607-17-6

Julius Streit, ředitel německé městské knihovny

Julius Streit, ředitel německé městské knihovny

 
Německá čítárna v obchodní akademii (na Gewerbeplatz, tzv. Horní nám.)

Německá čítárna v obchodní akademii (na Gewerbeplatz, tzv. Horní nám.)

 
Výpůjční pult německé knihovny v dívčí škole (na Kronenstr.)

Výpůjční pult německé knihovny v dívčí škole (na Kronenstr.)

 
Prostory německé čítárny ve staré radnici

Prostory německé čítárny ve staré radnici

 
Půjčovna německé knihovny ve staré radnici (1933-1939)

Půjčovna německé knihovny ve staré radnici (1933-1939)

 
Oddělení pro mládež německé knihovny (radniční sál 1940 - 1945)

Oddělení pro mládež německé knihovny (radniční sál 1940 - 1945)

 
Jaroslav Šorejs, knihovník předválečné české knihovny (první zprava sedící)

Jaroslav Šorejs, knihovník předválečné české knihovny (první zprava sedící)

 
Budova staré radnice (50.léta)

Budova staré radnice (50.léta)

 
Oddělení pro děti a mládež (60.léta)

Oddělení pro děti a mládež (60.léta)

 
Čítárna okresní knihovny (1958)

Čítárna okresní knihovny (1958)

 
Půjčovna okresní knihovny (1958)

Půjčovna okresní knihovny (1958)

 
Hudební oddělení (1967-1978)

Hudební oddělení (1967-1978)

 
Audiovizuální sál (po roce 1978)

Audiovizuální sál (po roce 1978)

 
 
Created 8.11.2005 17:29:11 | read 18141x | Zbynek Duda