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Warsaw University Library

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Historical note

The Warsaw University Library was founded in 1817, at the same time as the Warsaw University. Its collection of over 135,000 books and periodicals printed before 1801 comprises one of four such collections of the research libraries in Poland. Two collections formed the foundation of the library: the Warsaw Lyceum Library and the Library at the Court of Appeals. The Library was greatly expanded over the next years by collecting holdings from suppressed monastery and church libraries. During the turbulent 19th century, when Poland lost her independence, the collection was moved to the Russian Empire and, after a few decades, duplicates from the Imperial Public Library were ordered to be sent back to Warsaw. Thus, some books from the Zaluski Library, the Library of the Society of Friends of Science, and other Polish libraries which had earlier been taken to Petersburg, found their way back to Warsaw. Other early imprints were acquired at that time, such as those of the library of the Polish Bank and the collection of the liberal Russian official Arkady Tolocanov. After the Second World War, the Library of the Synod of the Evangelical-Reformed Church, the Wallenberg Library, and the residential library of the Schönaichs from Carolath-Beuthen in Silesia were added along with parts of the libraries coming from the regions of Pomerania and Silesia.

The publishing of a printed catalogue was launched by T. Komender (compiler) and M. Sipayllo (Introduction): Catalogue of the XV and XVI Century Printed Books from the Collections of the Warsaw University Library, Volumes 1 (letter A) and 2 (letter B): (Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 1994- ). Records supplied both provenance data and binding descriptions. The entire 16th-century collection was designed to fill approximately 18 volumes (ca.12,000 records).

Name and coverage of file

The file contains 142 records of incunabula (the entire set of WUL holdings) and ca. 3000 entries of 16th-century publications, mostly covering letters A, B and C. The collection covers all languages and subjects. The most frequently represented language is Latin. Theological materials form a substantial portion of the whole, and include Catholic as well as Protestant publications. The so-called “Polonica” collection comprises about 10% of the whole. Records of mutilated books (even fragments) are included. This is the result of a retrospective conversion project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The card catalogue, as well as the printed catalogue, were the main sources of data. Records can be retrieved from the UW online catalogue.

Cataloguing practice

Cataloguing is full. All records are derived from book-in-hand cataloguing. Records are entered according to Polish cataloguing rules based on ISBD(A), with some local amendments and simplifications. The original format was US MARC.


Author/title headings and alternative forms of names of authors (cross-references) are linked to the Authority Control File. Author headings and titles given in incunabula follow the form used in Incunabula quae in bibliothecis Poloniae asservantur, M. Bohonos, E. Szandorowska (comp.), Wratislaviae : ex Officina Instituti Ossoliniani, 1970. Headings for ancient and medieval authors were created in Latin; for the 16th century, the vernacular was preferred. Main entries for saints (Brygida sw. ; 1302-1373), popes (Bonifacy VIII ; papiez, ca 1235-1303), and royalty (Karol IV cesarz niemiecki ; 1316-1378) are given in Polish. Uniform titles are used for the Bible, the Koran and other religious works. Liturgical works follow the List of Uniform Titles for Liturgical Works of the Latin Rites of the Catholic Church, issued by IFLA in 1981. Uniform titles are also used for some legal works and for original titles when works have been translated.

Bibliographic description

Titles in Old Church Slavonic and Greek are transliterated in accordance with the Polish transcription standard, titles in Hebrew are omitted. A title may be shortened by selecting significant words and phrases, and marking ellipses by a row of dots. Polonica records include signature collation. Information covering various editions is given in the notes. Records have bibliographical notes and references to both Polish and foreign catalogues and bibliographies, where appropriate. Information regarding defective and missing pages (in the WUL item record) have not been transferred to the HPB database. Fragments are described in the 590 field (in the WUL field 599).

Present/absent fields

Transcribed fields include title, statements of responsibility (authors’ names are generally omitted from the title), edition and imprint. Pagination, illustration, and bibliographic format are added to each record. Places of publication, names of printers, editors, translators (added entries) are not included. Subject headings are not used.

Records include searchable codes for language and country of publication. Modern European boundaries are respected.

Treatment of multi-volume publications

These are treated in single records. Details on separate volumes are given in the notes.

Recommendations for searching

It is possible to search by author, title, printer and place of publication. Authors may be searched using several cross-referenced forms. Title, printer and place of publication may be searched in the form in which they appear in the work.

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 resources/hpb/content/warsaw_university_library.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/23 11:33 by baldwin



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