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National and University Library, Zagreb

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Historical note

We can seek the history of the National and University Library in the library of the Jesuit Gymnasium in 1606, and later in the Jesuit Academy, which marked the beginning of our university in 1669. With the foundation of the Grammar Academy, the higher adminstrative school in Zagreb, it was inaugurated as a public library with a bequest of books and manuscripts from Adam Baltazar Krcelic, a canon of Zagreb and a Croatian writer. This gift was the library's first great endowment and the name of Krcelic is often linked to the founding of our Library.

When the University of Zagreb was inaugurated in 1874, it was decided to combine the holdings of the Grammar Academy and of the National Museum into the University Library, which in the end of 19th century took over the function of the national library of the Croatian people. At that time the library collection of 46,978 volumes was enriched by purchase, gifts and by the bequest of famous Croats and even of some institutions. At the end of the 19th century two most important private libraries - Ljudevit Gaj's and Nikola Zrinski's - were bought. Gay's library had over 16,000 books, a great number of incunabula, manuscripts, autographs and precious transcriptions. That purchase inspired Ivan Kostrencic, then library manager, to ask for the Government permission to open the reading-room where rare books and manuscripts would be placed. Kostrencic's request was accepted on the 24th June 1894 from which date the collection functions as a special department.

Ivan Kostrencic had also suggested that the library of the Academy of science and art and Metropolitana - Zagreb archiepiscopal library should also be combined with the University Library. The first mentioned institution rejected this proposal, and the second accepted in 1901 but it was not until 1914 that the books of the Metropolitana actually found their way into the building of the University Library. The Metropolitana is the oldest library in Croatia. Its beginning go back into the past, to the 11th century when Zagreb Archiepiscopacy was founded. The library complemented the lacunae in the National and University Library's funds with its manuscript and book treasures, particularly in the Latin Middle-Ages codexes of Hungarian, Italian and French origin, the greatest collection of incunabula in Croatia as well as with valuable collection of foreign books from the 16th century. The Metropolitana ceased to be part of the National and University in 1995, the year when NUL moved to the new building. Among two-and-a-half million books, hand-written and other material housed in the new building at the moment only a small part is represented in HPB database.

Name and coverage of file

The file from the National and University Library, Zagreb, Croatia contains a selection of 2,346 records which result from different retrospective projects: Croatica - literature and historical printed books from the 15th century to 1835; the Ban Tomasic Collectionas well as Metropolitana - the Library of Zagreb Archiepiscopacy.

Description and function of the file

Most of the records have been produced by book-in-hand cataloguing and the rest by retrospective catalogue conversion. The first mentioned records containing full bibliographic description with details: names of the printers, previous owners, copy specific information etc. and can primarily serve as a basis for bibliographic research. The latter mentioned records contain short bibliographic description. The material in the file is selected by using the national, language and territorial principles:

  • books in Croatian language published/printed in Croatia
  • books by Croatian authors in foreign languages (Latin, Italian, German etc.)
  • books in Glagolitic script
  • Croatian language books printed elsewhere (mostly in Italy and Germany)
  • foreign books of the hand press era.

Recommendations for searching

Names of authors, translators, editors, printers, previous owners etc. as well as names of place of publication can be searched only by one form either national (Croatian, French etc.) or Latin, depending on the period in which the person worked. The file does not contain variant forms of authors' names. Due to that, and the fact that names of majority of the authors have been recorded differently in other files of the HPB, to find all works by a particular author it is necessary to search under various forms of author's names.

Note that all mentioned types of intellectual responsibility should be searched under “author” or “author word”. Bibliographic notes and genre terms are given in Croatian language; there is no subject nor classification scheme.


The new update will cover converted bibliography of Croatian Latin writers containing nearly 6500 records of the works printed from the 15th century until 1848. Bibliographic description of this file is in Latin.

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 resources/hpb/content/national_and_university_library_zagreb.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/22 16:36 by baldwin



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