THE IDEA OF “OPEN LIBRARY” BY WŁADYSŁAW SERGIUSZ KAZANOWICZ
(1915–1969). THE BEGINNINGS OF “THE LIBRARY AS THE THIRD PLACE”?
In 1945 W.S. Kazanowicz (1915–1969) founded a private library, “Books for Silesia”, in Wrocław, which he ran until his death in 1969. He pursued, with varying degrees of success, the idea of “open library”, which is the main focus of this article. Kazanowicz responded to the cultural, scholarly and educational needs of Wrocław residents, people of various cultures and nationalities. The incoming Polish population, mainly pupils, students and adults pursuing further education had access to books in the reading room and could also borrow them; Kazanowicz also organised various clubs and educational activities, promoting reading (press archives, New Year competition with prizes, bulletin, Committee for the Promotion of Reading Culture etc.). He tried to maintain his library at a difficult time for private libraries, in the post-war period, which is why he was also involved in commercial activities (application writing services, translations, small advertising publications, sale of magazines, newspapers, tobacco products and stationery, running a national lottery outlet). What was a completely novel initiative was the endowment of scholarships and grants to provide financial support to impoverished students. As a determined activist, he was able to skilfully combine the tradition of 18th- and 19th-century private lending libraries and reading societies in Wrocław with new social challenges in order to integrate people who hadcome to Wrocław after the war from various parts of Poland. As such he was unknowingly half a century ahead of the concept of “library as the third place”.