AN OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH INTO THE HISTORY OF LIBRARIES AND LIBRARIANSHIP IN POLAND IN 1945–2015
The author of the article discusses selected academic and popular publications concerning the history of libraries and librarianship in Poland which appeared in 1945–2015. In that period information about the most important historical resources of various Polish libraries and early book collections was made available; in addition, the period was marked by progress in the study of materials originating before the end of the 18th century. Scholars published a range of methodological studies as well as studies dealing with sources, contributing to the development of scholarship. On the other hand, there were too few editions of source materials.
After 1989 scholars intensified their efforts to find sources in foreign collections, especially in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Germany. Polish collections kept abroad are yet to be fully researched and have their inventories and catalogues published.
The vast body of literature is uneven when it comes to its focus on the various historical periods, regions, subregions and local centres. It comprises publications dealing with the history of libraries, their function and role in culture with regard to the history of the book, and publications focused on the types of libraries or individual libraries — of different traditions, sizes and stature. Scholars also explored the history of home book collections, reading rooms and libraries as well as biographies of librarians and collectors. The quality of the publications varies. There are gaps in, for example, the history of libraries in the former Polish Eastern Borderlands as well as “blank pages” in the historiography of Polish librarianship after the Second World War. There is a visible shortage of quantification of phenomena from the past of libraries, despite the fact that there are some possibilities in this respect. What is also needed is development in comparative studies, also in an international perspective, although this would require Polish historians to become more interested than before in the history of librarianship in other countries.