“Hic mortui vivunt, et muti loquuntur”
“Here the dead come to life and the mute speak”
(Inscription on the pediment of the library building facade)
Lviv Polytechnic National University is the oldest technical university in Ukraine. Its history began in the first half of the 19th century, when, following the example of the most developed European countries, new economic relations were been introduced into economics of Galicia province. This factor encouraged development of applied science and technology.
More than one and half century the library is an integral part, spiritual resort and the information base of Lviv Polytechnic University. Library history began in 1884, when Lviv Technical Academy was founded. In 1848 revolution broke out in the Austrian Empire.
Lviv was overcrowded with revolutioners, student youth together with other citizens were fighting on the barricades. Uprising was suppressed by military forces using artillery. City fire, caused by artillery firing, burned many buildings, in particular, building of Technical Academy, situated on the corner of Teatralna and Virmenska streets. Technical Academy Library that had about two thousand volumes was completely burnt. Academy scientific equipment estimated in 10 thousand zloty was also burnt.
Working conditions in the renovated Library were hard. In Academy building restored after the fire, library was situated in one little room. The room was so dark that it was almost impossible to work there.
Library restoration was very slow process. High book prices limited quantity of new-bought books. Library budget, formed by student fees for book usage, was inconsiderable, therefore subscription and buying were made in single copy of each. Predominantly books were gifts from Academy professors, wealthy citizens and scientific institutions of Lviv. In 1850 individual calculation of funds with inventory books has started.
In 1871 Academy was given a status of university headed by rector, elected by the council of professors. In the same year compulsory Polish language in teaching was introduced. Earlier German language had been compulsory for teaching.
Markiyan Shashkevych, Ivan Vahylevych and Yakiv Holovatsky, founders of «The Ruthenian Trinity», advocated the idea of the national equality and required schooling in Ukrainian in educational institutions of Galicia. Consequently, there were actually no books in Ukrainian in Technical Academy Library.
As of 1871, after almost 30 years of its existence library had only 3600 volumes. At that time, library had neither staff nor suitable room, funds were unsystematic, so book usage was complicated. Rector dealt with all library work by himself, he was buying books and subscribing journals. Rector also kept inventory books and handled books for students and teachers. It was extremely hard for one person to carry on functions of rector, teacher and librarian at the same time.
At the end of 1874, Academy Council of Professors had asked Ministry of Education to improve library working conditions and on the 5th of November 1874 Ministry permitted transferring the library to the building of Żarskich which bordered with Academy main building. In new building the library and its reading room were organized.
Ministry obliged Council of Professors to elect the librarian, who should be responsible for library management on public principles. At the same time the first unit of permanent staff was established. Ministry also allowed librarian to have a part-time assistant and granted money for these needs.
Permanent library worker was called scriptor. Library manager had the salary approved by rector and scriptor's status was specified with a separate agreement. Librarian assistant was called library servant, he had handle functions of modern duty librarian (kept his eye on the entrance, prevented lawless book taking and smuggling etc). For three years (1874 – 1876) Ministry of Education had been giving annual donation for completion of library book fund. Since that time, the library had been managed by the member of the Council of Professors. The rest of the functions, including the readers' support, were given to staff member. Access to the library was available on the conditions of Austria-Hungary's public libraries. The library rules were listed in the reading room.
Geodesy professor Dominik Zbrożek was the first library manager. He was energetically and carefully sorting and ordering book collection. In 1889 Dominik Zbrożek became the rector of Polytechnic school. In the beginning of 1874/1875 academic year Academy established first unit of permanent staff. That first staffer was Antoni Jakubowski. At that time the Library and reading room were open for seven hours daily.
Antoni Jakubowski served as librarian for 30 years. He began his work in the library on the 31th of October 1874 and was working as librarian assistant. On January 1, 1883 Jakubowski was promoted to scriptor according to Universities' rules. In the essay written by professor Władysław Zajaczkowski (who became the library manager in 1875) on the occasion of Polytechnic school 50th jubilee Antoni Jakubowski was described as “admirable librarian assistant”.
Library rooms before 1932
In the 1870s the demand for technical specialists rapidly increased. At that moment Technical academy had four faculties: Engineering, Architecture, Technical Chemistry, and Machine Design. Whereas the number of students grew, there were no rooms for above mentioned faculties. These factors raised a question of erecting special building for academic needs.
From 1873 to 1877 according to the project of Julian Zachariewicz and by his supervision two blocks were built: main building on Sapiega Street (now Bandera Street) and chemical laboratory building (now Lviv Polytechnic building No 9). Main building opening ceremony was conducted on October 1, 1883.
The building functions are written on the attic of the facade: “LITTERIS ET ARTIBUS” (For Science and Art). At the same time Academy was renamed to “Technische Hochschule” and Council of Professors proposed to translate this as “Polytechnic High School”. Literary works were very important for technical education, therefore in new-built in 1877 main building was also library room. Author of the project, Julian Zachariewicz, placed it in two big rooms on the second floor in the north side of the building. One room was student library and reading room and another one was for professors.
Rooms, facing north, provided necessary climate for books and suitable conditions for book storing and reading. All this was designed by J. Zachariewicz, he also created a unique room interior, including bookcase project. The architect placed a bookcase along the whole wall opposite windows. Zachariewicz met architectonic requirements in an unusual way, designed two-story bookcase in one volume to store as many books as possible. Professor's idea was brilliantly realized by Wczelak brothers at their carpenter factory in Lviv. Masters had created required bookcase and T. Sokуlski installed one. Works were finished at the beginning of 1880. Bookcase was produced of oak wood carved and decorated in Flemish Renaissance style. Two-story bookcase has two screw stairs in opposite ends. Stairs are integrated into the bookcase and lead to the entresol. At that times It an innovative solution in library design for that time.
Elegant bookcase and wood ceiling with intarsia imitation charm with their rich decor making interior of library room unique even until now. Bookcase has kept its good condition and wonderful appearance owing to wax saturated wood. The beautiful interior of library express admiration and respect of academic staff for library. Nowadays, this room serve as Exhibition of scientific achievements of Lviv Polytechnic.
In anniversary year 1894 library has about 14 thousand volumes, tree person staff and about 300 readers. During first years most of received works were in Polish and German. In spite of requests from academic staff, works in Ukrainian and Russian had not been bought. The library had been running out of space to store works and the offer of space for readers. This raised a sharp question of enlarging the library and its staff.
Dr. Kazimierz Bartel, professor of Lviv Polytechnic, was an initiator of erection of the new library building. Professor of Lviv Polytechnic Tadeusz Obminski won in the contest for the best project of new library building. Special building for the library was constructed in the years 1929-1934 on Nikorowicz Street (now Profesorska Street). This building is an architectural monument of the first half of the 20th century. It combines modern forms with elements of classic architecture.
New library location fostered the development of library activities. The library started to receive compulsory exemplars from the publishing houses that were members of International Federation of Technical and Professional Press. Contacts established with foreign technical publishing houses could have discovered new possibilities to increase technical literature collection, but permanent financial difficulties hampered book provision. Therefore, up to 1939, after almost 100 years of its existence library had only 90 thousand volumes and 3 thousand readers. Forty thousand visitors were served and about sixty thousand books given by twelve person staff of the library.
The library suffered enormous losses during the Fascist occupation. The shells caused the strongest damage to the main reading room and the hall. Glass dome of book storehouse was destroyed and the water was getting into the building, heating system failed, library equipment was destroyed or stolen. Some exemplars of literary works were damaged and many books were stolen.
Lviv Polytechnic and its Scientific Library resumed their work after liberation of Lviv in 1944. In the post-war years the library organized contacts with many domestic and foreign libraries. Book exchange helped to enlarge the library collection. For instance, during first six post-war years library received more literature than in the first hundred years of its existence.
All book archives have been opened not only for professors, lecturers and students, but also for all library readers. Our primary goal has been to accumulate collection of educational literature and to provide students with all needed books.
The most intense period of the Library development has been in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1970, second library building containing 7-level book shelter for 1 million volumes was erected. New reading rooms could simultaneously service up to 1300 readers. Nowadays all student service departments are situated in a new block.
The Library receives up to 80-90 thousand new books each year. The devoted work of the Library staff resulted in a category improvement. According to the regulation № 63 02 of 29.04.1988 of the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the Ukrainian SSR the library received a higher category.
For many years Scientific Library of Lviv Polytechnic National University is considered to be among the best university libraries in Lviv and Ukraine