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History of the Library

History of the Library

The beginnings of the Gdansk library reach late 16th century, when in 1596 the City Council Library (Bibliotheca Senatus Gedanensis) was formed and it included the collection of the Franciscan Monastery and the collection of the Italian exile, Marquis of Oria.

In 1793 it became a Municipal Library.

In the early 19th century the collections, at the time consisting of 55,000 volumes, were transferred to St. Jacob’s Church and then in 1905 to a newly constructed building in Wałowa Street. In 1939, the Library housed 245,000 volumes.

The history of public library services in post-war Gdansk began in 1945. At this time PhD Marian Pelczar, acting on behalf of the operational group of the Ministry of Education,  initially secured the library collections located in the damaged building of Stadtbibliothek in Wałowa Street. On 9 April 1945 the Mayor of Gdansk, Franciszek Kotus-Jankowski, handed the nomination for the position of the Director of the Municipal Library to PhD Marian Pelczar. The organisation of municipal lending libraries was initiated almost immediately.

The first public municipal lending library was opened in Oliva on 22 July 1945. The other two were organised in the autumn of the same year – these were: a subsidiary in the City Management in Gdansk (1,200 volumes) and a facility in Orunia with the book collection of 400 volumes. By the end of 1949 there were eight library subsidiaries operating in Gdansk.

In 1946 two departments were established in the Municipal Library: Scientific and Educational ones. The Gdansk Public Library Serivces originated from the Educational Department.

In 1949 (i.e. when poviat and district facilities would already operate) the Ministry of Culture and Arts ordered PhD Kazimierz Tymecki, the Director of Municipal Public Library in Gdynia, to organise the Voivodeship Public Library (which crowned the work of establishing a network of common libraries in Gdansk Area). The Voivodeship Public Library was established in 1951. Its first seat was in Gdynia, and the subsequent one in Gdansk-Wrzeszcz.

In 1955 the Polish Academy of Sciences took over the Scientific Department of the Library (330,000 volumes) thus creating the Gdansk Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences, whereas the collection of the Educational Department (99,000 volumes) formed the basis for the establishment of the Voivodeship and Municipal Public Library.

Prompt development of a library network occurred in the 1960s, when five subsidiaries were launched in the Pomerania Region. The collections of the Library at the time included around 400,000 volumes.
In the 1970s three libraries were established in Gdansk, and in 1980s – five, and in the recent years – further three ones.
The year 1975 brought fundamental changes to the administrative division of the country, inter alia, the liquidation of poviats. As a result of these activities, the Articles of Association of the Library were changed as well. From July 1975 it operated again as the Voivodeship Public Library, but working on the basis of three branches – in Kościerzyna, Tczew and Wejherowo, and on the basis of the network of municipal libraries, municipal and commune libraries, and commune libraries. With the beginning of 1979 the Library changed its organisation into two-level scheme – without branches.
In September 1994 the Voivodeship Public Library in Gdansk adopted the name of Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski.

On 24 November 2003 by the resolution of the Sejmik of Pomorskie Voivodeship the name of the Library was changed to: Wojewódzka i Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna im. Josepha Conrada Korzeniowskiego w Gdańsku (The Joseph Conrad Voivodeship and Municipal Public Library in Gdansk)

The Central Library changed its seat several times. The longest period of time it was located at ul. Długa 12, and then in Piwna Street, while in 1981 it received the building occupied so far by the Voivodeship Council of Trade Unions at ul. Kalinowskiego 5/6 (currently Targ Rakowy) where it has been located up to now.

Currently WiMBP consists of: 29 library facilities in Gdansk, reading rooms, as well as specialist laboratories, inter alia: Regional Library, the Centre of Readership for the Sick and Disabled, American Corner, Comic Studio, Gdansk Brunch, The Manhattan Library.

WiMBP substantially supervises the network of public libraries of the whole Pomorskie Voivodeship in the number of 356.