Almost 60 years of the Institute of Library and Information Science
at the University of Wroclaw
Library studies as an autonomous subject of university studies appeared in Poland after WWII, first in Łodź (1945) and then in Warsaw (1951). The person who contributed most to the idea of educating librarians and other book professionals at the University of Wroclaw was Professor Antoni Knot, the director of the University Library, who developed research methodologies and organizational framework of a future academic centre
of library studies.
In 1956, within the Faculty of Philology, the School of Library Science for Workers (headed by Antoni Knot) and the Chair of Library Science (headed by Professor Karol Głombiowski) were established. The placement
of Wroclaw library studies within the Faculty of Philology clearly defined their nature: two branches of philology – linguistics and literary studies – were complemented by a third – study of cultural content recorded in writing, printed and digitized. The center specialized in theory of the book and book studies, the history of the book,
the history of libraries and librarianship, studies in the history of readership, in modern readership, and, in later periods, also bibliography, publishing and scientific information.
The syllabuses – programme content, types of courses, number of hours – changed over years. They usually followed the changes in library and information science, the needs of employers and the expectations of future graduates.
In 1980s came a significant syllabus novelty, unknown to previous generations of students – the specialization (e.g. in school libraries, research libraries, press in the information system, digital libraries, publishing, book art), which – while maintaining the didactic core common to the whole field – directed graduates more clearly towards their future jobs. In addition to MA (currently BA and MA) full-time and extramural studies, since 1970s the Institute has been offering post-graduate studies and doctoral studies (not on a continuous basis though).
Over three thousands students have completed their MA studies at the Institute to date. In 2001 and 2007
the Institute obtained accreditation from the University Accreditation Committee and, following an inspection in December 2006, accreditation with honours from the State Accreditation Committee (2007). The Institute’s staff are active on the local, national and international fora.
The staff of the Institute of Library Science, established in December 1956, were found among librarians
of Wroclaw’s research libraries. That is why research carried out by the new institution was a continuation
of the academic work of those scholars, focusing on the history of books in Silesia – book production (paper making, printing), circulation (book selling, libraries) and reception (readership).
Another important field explored by scholars from the very beginning of the Institute’s existence was
a theoretical study which created the theoretical basis for book studies (bibliology) as an autonomous discipline. The advocates of this discipline placed the book and its social function at the center of their research. With time the field of theoretical studies was redefined and bibliology was increasingly perceived as the study
of book culture that reveals, describes and interprets the phenomena associated with the functioning of books as social tools of culture. The significance of these studies is confirmed by the term “Wroclaw’s (Polish) bibliological school” that can be encountered in literature.
In the late 1960s the Institute’s researchers began to expand their work to include the history of books
and libraries in other regions of Poland as well as various contemporary issues. In 1970s and 1980s the problems analyzed by Wroclaw’s library scholars focused on: the theory of book studies (bibliology), the history of books, periodicals, printing, library studies, reading and bibliography. The catalogue of research subjects also included themes combining bibliology and other disciplines, e.g. literature studies and art (book art).
In 1990s the scholars began to devote more attention to issues related to the evolving media. In addition to fields that had already been explored, studies in editing, bibliometrics and scientometrics, new media and information technologies (electronic books and digital libraries) appeared.