About The Library

Department profile

The foundation of the Library closely relates to the establishment of the Museum of Czech Literature  (1952). The initial mission of the Library in the years 1951-1953 was to administrate the Strahov Library and book gatherings from closed-down monasteries; a new study library was arising for the museum department purposes, and a permanent exhibition was being installed alongside. Substantial acquisitions also came from closed-down publishers’ (e.g. J.R. Vilímek). The present condition of the Library fonds reflects numerous legislative reforms implemented after 1989. The Library has lost the right to legal deposit; the historical book fonds have suffered a massive decrease in precious collector’s items as a result of restitution claims asserted by original owners. The early 1990s witnessed the formulation of general basic principles that apply to the MCL Library collection acquiring. The thing that was set to ensure the continuity between the existing collection and next was a key target for acquisition: to reach a very complete picture of Czech literature by increase in belles-lettres. Furthermore, to depict the image of a Czech book – its visual and typographical side successionally to the existing collection (e.g. a set of books awarded in ‘The Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year’). The Library is a member of the Association of Library and Information Professionals of the Czech Republic; the Czech Republic Association of Libraries; the Commission of Librarians of the Czech Association of Museums and Galleries. It co-operates with the Union Catalogue of the Czech Republic, as well as other national authorities in the Czech Republic. The collection fonds entered the Central Registry of Collections in 2002; the Library is now registered as a publicly accessible library (registration No.:3223/2002).  

Sub-collection 19 – Writings and Prints
(manuscripts, fragments, incunabula, facsimiles, post-incunables  and cansatoria prints)

Sub-collection 19 comprises 917 manuscripts dating from the 15th -20th centuries, mostly from the modern history. Its considerable portion consists of religious literature (prayer books, hymnbooks, theological treatises, copies of textbooks), manuscript autographs of literary works coming from the 19th-20th centuries; the sub-collection also contains remarkable separate items, such as early-modern-history office books coming from estates or towns; grants of arms; autographs by prominent historic figures (Jan Kepler, imperial officers from The Thirty’s Year War period); collections of medical prescriptions; catalogues from some Church libraries; and self-contained series of the former MCL Strahov Library’s guest-books of 1956-1988.

Twenty-four fragments of mostly manuscripts dating from the 12th -15th centuries and from the 18th century, torsos of few post-incunabula coming from the 16th -17th centuries; and one item – the oldest of all administrated by the MCL: a papyrus strip with an excerpt from Odyssey by Homer dating from the 2nd -4th centuries.

Thirty-nine incunabula dating from 1477-1500 mostly in Latin, two in Czech language, one in German. Twenty out of them have Gothic bindings; all have colourized initials, rubrications, manuscript marginalia and earlier provenience memoranda.

Twenty exhibition, artistic facsimiles of old-Bohemian written monuments, such as The Vyšehrad Codex; Chronica of Bohemians by Cosmas, the Hussite military code by Žižka the Statutes and Military Ordinance mostly from the MCL previous permanent exhibition; some of them went on the Expo 58 in Brussels.

A collection of over 18,000 post-incunables dating from the 16th -18th centuries that mostly consists of books from: theology, philosophy, history, botany and geography branches; theological, philosophical and language textbooks; collections of sermons, preaching books and chanting books. 

Cansatoria prints
Over 1,600 cansatoria prints with prayers, and both religious and secular songs dating from the early 18th to the mid-20 th centuries.

Sub-collection 18 - Books
The sub-collection mostly consists of the new-age book production of Czech belles-lettres, foreign Bohēmicus books; excellent, world-famous pieces of translation; professional publications from the literary science field; other reference literature including literary or cultural periodicals. The sub-collection heart contains the period production, bibliophilic books and individualized copies with notes, autographs and dedications. We focus on acquiring private and institutional libraries whose owners have their inheritances in the Literary Archive. The Library administrates more than a hundred book groups by distinguished Czech writers or literary scientists and the Czech culture figures (K. Biebl, V. Černý, V. Holan, J. Hora, V. Nezval, A. Pražák, J. Thon, K. Steinbach, and many more), publishers’ book wholes (F. Borový, B.M. Klika, and others), and collectors’ libraries (J. Karásek ze Lvovic, and more). The MCL Library has been acquiring exile or samizdat book production since 1989.