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Biblioteka Raczyńskich w Poznaniu

Biblioteka Raczyńskich w Poznaniu

of the Raczyński Library
and the
Cartographic Collection

The Raczyński Library opened on May 5, 1829. More than any other foundation library, it owes its origin and development to the energy and initiative of one man, Edward Raczyński (1786- 1845). He looked after everything: he bought a site for the library in the center of the city, erected a magnificent (for those times) building, collected books, provided material resources, and created the legal and organizational basis for the library' s normal functioning. Throughout his life he looked after its development, efficiently protecting it from the germanizing policy of the invaders. In such a situation he had to exert strong influence on the policy for acquiring library materials and consequently make decisions as to what was to be bought. Cartographic gifts were relatively rare, therefore the collection was supplemented by means of purchasing. Raczyński had precisely stated goals in this matter, securing the direction for development with resolutions to already established statutes. According to Art. 3 of The Statute of the Raczyński Library in Poznań he created a public library for everybody, regardless of the user' s social status. What is more, as Raczyński states in Wspomnienia Wielkopolski (Memoirs of Wielkopolska, Poznań 1843): " its main goal was to benefit youth and common use. That is why the common works of every literature and nation were of bigger interest than bibliographic rarities." According to Art. 41 of the statute " the works to be bought were those of special moral, historical, technical, philological interest to inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Poznań rather than fun books and unimportant magazines." These rules defined the contents of the collection. Andrzej Wojtkowski in his basic monograph about Raczyński (Edward Raczyński i jego dzieło = Edward Raczyński and His Work, Poznań 1929) proves that in the first years of the library' s existence almost half of the collection consisted of historical works. The lack of financial resources caused enormous gaps in the collection as far as basic works from all branches of knowledge were concerned.

Then, how did the matter of collecting, compiling and making the collection accessible to people take shape in this situation? It must be stated that before World War II the Library did not have a separate collection of maps and atlases; creating such a collection was out of the question at the beginning of the library' s activity. In this respect, the Raczyński Library did not differ from other even larger libraries in which cartography was neglected. The few atlases in the early collection were catalogued as compact publications and multi-sheet maps often remained undescribed. It is highly significant that Raczyński, in giving short descriptions of the library collection in Wspomnienia Wielkopolski, did not consider geographic sciences to be a separate scientific discipline. Catalogus alphabeticus Bibliothecae Publicae Raczyńscianae (vol. 1- 2, Posnaniae 1865) shows a number of old cartographic items coming either from the collection in Wyszyna or from the Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz collection. These are extremely valuable items, e.g. Le grand nouvel atlas de la mer by Keulen, or Novus atlas absolutissimus by Janssonius. There is a striking lack of contemporary maps and atlases, visible also in the next printed publication: Alphabetischer Katalog der Raczyńskischen Bibliothek enthaltend die Erwerbungen aus den Jahren 1865-1877 (Posen 1878).

Raczyński must have appreciated the importance of geographic sciences and cartographic documentation. He wrote memoirs from a trip (Diary from a Trip to Turkey in 1814, Wrocław 1821), published also in German and compiled two maps found among the manuscripts before 1939: Mappa Topograficzna Woyskowa i Statystyczna części Wielkopolski która dziś Departament Poznański składa (Topographic Military and Statistic Map of the Part of Wielkopolska which today constitutes the Duchy of Poznań), extremely valuable but lost during the war, and: Mappa prowincyi polskich przez Rosyą zabranych (Map of Polish Provinces Annexed by Russia) which fortunately escaped destruction. He bought maps from the library of the Wrocław College' s Rector J.F.C. Manso. Many valuable atlases and geographic works have belonged to the collection since its origin; they come from Raczyński' s family collection in Wyszyna and from a set of manuscripts and prints bought by Konstancja Raczyńska from J.U. Niemcewicz. Considering the omission of many objects (e.g., Ortelius) in printed catalogues, mistakes in cataloguing etc., it is worth noting that the number of maps and atlases in the first half of the 19th century was unusually small in comparison to the whole of collection and the basic directions of acquisition. This was simply the result of the paucity of resources. In 1834- 1854, 2,500 new volumes were bought, and as A. Wojtkowski says, in the first 35 years of the Library' s existence " its development in the section of prints was very slow." It was difficult in such a case to buy indispensable and expensive cartographic publications, especially atlases. From 1830 until the end of World War I, the library experienced an influx of maps and other smaller cartographic publications; these were obligatory copies sent from the region of the Grand Duchy of Poznań.

Systematic cataloguing by Sosnowski and Kurtzman (Katalog der Raczyńskischen Bibliothek in Posen, Bd. 1- 3, Posen 1885) treats geography as one of auxiliary sciences of history, creating in volume II a separate chapter Atlanten (Atlases) including 18 items, 11 of which escaped destruction. A few other atlases and maps may be found in other sections, especially in volume III (concerning history and Polish literature) which contains two chapters with geographical works.

The first volume of the Polish catalogue compiled in the alphabetical order by A. Wojtkowski (Katalog Bibljoteki Raczyńskich w Poznaniu 1885- 1931 = Catalog of the Raczyński Library in Poznań 1885- 1931, Poznań 1932) contains only descriptions of several bound maps from the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century (a part of them was lost). It constitutes the last informative link of the Library' s pre-war collection. The information from the years of occupation is very scanty, but we do know that cartography was grouped as a separate collection and its compilation was managed by a specially delegated librarian. The tragic January of 1945, when the building in Plac Wolności 19 and its collection were completely destroyed, did not spare the cartographic collection either, although its fate took different courses. Fearing air raids, the Germans took the most valuable pieces of collection out of Poznań to the site of Obrzycko, namely, manuscripts, old prints, 19th century prints (up to 1830), and others. It is still uncertain where the cartography collection was taken, but it was taken much farther. The remaining part of collection was accidentally found in Groß grabe in Saxony after World War II and brought back to Poland together with the recovered collection of the National Museum in Poznań (859 items were recovered, as the register shows). The question arises, what composed the Library collection before the outbreak of war and to what extent were they compiled? In January 1945 all documentation, all inventories, catalogues and the reference library were destroyed. The collection was not separated and quite a big part was not compiled. It is difficult to give precise data in such a situation. Moreover, the reports of Polish workers employed in the Library during the war are very scanty and often contradictory. E.g., Antoni Mazurek from Obrzycko (a manual worker employed by Raczyński family) claimed that cartography was moved to the Archiwum Państwowe (National Record Office) and then on January 11, 1945 taken to Groß grabe in 23 (!) crates. On the other hand, though Roman Knak, a storage manager, maintained that the collection was not numerous, he remembered that the Library had been gathering all topographic maps by Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny (Military Geographic Institute) in the interwar period. It is worth mentioning here what Bolesław Olszewicz says in his work Polish Cartographic Collection (Polskie zbiory kartograficzne, Warszawa 1926): " the Raczyński Library owned several dozen of atlases and older geographic works (Geography by Ptolemaeus, Cosmography by Mu nster, etc.)." This is mentioned as well in Polish Collections by Edward Chwalewik (Zbiory polskie = Polish Collections, Warszawa 1916, second ed. 1927). The cartographic collection was enlarged during the war with a few contemporary atlases and worthless propagandist maps, but despite this fact, the Germans employed one librarian. On the basis of fragmentary data it is supposed that the cartographic collection included about 4,000 items.

The issue of separating out the cartographic collection was given notice only after the war in 1947 when a part of it was recovered in Groß grabe. Simultaneously, manuscripts and old prints were brought from Obrzycko. The possibility of creating an independent section for special collections emerged. In its first years it was based almost exclusively on collections of the old Library.

The Division for Special Collection commenced its activity in 1950, however, separating out the Cartographic Section as a internal part of the Division for Special Collection took place on January 1, 1952. At this time it became possible to employ a librarian who had undergone a special training on a course organized in November and December 1951 in Warsaw by the Central Management of Libraries of the Ministry of Art and Culture. Kazimierz Ewicz had taken on the duties as manager of the Cartographic Section until December 31, 1963 when he became vice-manager of the Library. He supervised, however, the work of the Section, especially as far as supplementation and compilation of the collection was concerned. This state of affairs actually lasted till 1988 when K. Ewicz retired and quit acting as vice-manager and chief of Division for Special Collection. It must be added that in the years 1971- 1991 Halina Ziętek was the head of the Cartographic Section and since May 1, 1991 this duty has been performed by Krzysztof Grochowski.

On March 1, 1952 the employees started sorting through the collection, supplementing the reference library and finally compiling and making it accessible. The main task, however, was systematic enlargement of the collection, supplementing the gaps that had occurred during the war and creating a complete regional collection. Needless to say, this systematic work gave results. The Library statistics for the year 1951 show about 1,000 uncompiled units including 100 atlases in the cartographic collection. In 1996 (December 31), the collection embraced 9,605 items catalogued and showed in dictionary catalogue, compiled according to the rules by Aniela Drozdowska. As with most scientific institutions possessing cartographic collections, the Raczyński Library cooperated with the Institute of Geography of PAN (Polish Academy of Sciences) when creating the Central Cartographic Catalogue. Therefore, most of the Library' s atlases and geographic works appear on the list in the five issues of this Catalogue (Centralny katalog zbiorów kartograficznych w Polsce = Central Catalogue of the Cartographic Collections in Poland, ed. by M. Łodyński, vol. 1- 4, Warszawa 1961- 1968, vol. 5, Wrocław 1983).

During the whole period of supplementing the collection, the following principles applied:

a) gathering a complete set of publications connected with Poznań and Wielkopolska,

b) complementing all contemporary Polish publications (in the first years all published maps were gathered. Nowadays only new publications, excluding reprints, are supplemented),

c) completing auxiliary material indispensable to historians making use of the collection of manuscripts,

d) gathering basic contemporary foreign publications, mainly atlases and tourist publications,

e) gathering more valuable old cartographic items to supplement the existing collection.

It is beyond all question that the realization of these principles was very difficult. The negligence of the past as well as war loses could not be made up for. Although the collection increased ninefold between 1952- 1999, there is still enormous differentiation as far as quality of the collection is concerned.

Compilation and its inventory allows for thorough insight into its contents. Figures for the end of 1999 show 10 724 items of atlases and maps.

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