Hand-written materials in Cieszyn Library

Hand-written materials in Cieszyn Library are divided into several separate groups. The materials come from different historic collections stored in our Library, namely from Leopold Jan Szersznik’s Library, the Library of the Polish Ethnological Society and Tadeusz Reger’s Library. In the book collections of Józef Ignacy Kraszewski and the People’s Library, there are a few hand-written items which are not formally distinct and are included in collective stock lists of these collections. Since 2002, the library of Saint Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Parish has also been stored in Cieszyn Library. Apart from a few manuscripts catalogued in the prints stock list, it includes a separate and extensive repository of hand-written works and archive materials. Aside from historical collections, Cieszyn Library also houses a collection of manuscripts which have been gathered more recently, since 1994. We gradually include in this collection the materials which have not been described so far. Most of them were purchased back when the resources of today’s Cieszyn Library belonged to the Cieszyn Museum (1935-1960) and then to the Silesian Library in Katowice and to the Cieszyn City Library (1960-1993). In total, hand-written resources of Cieszyn Library consist of about 18,000 bibliographic records and include manuscripts from the Middle Ages to contemporary times. The provenance and theme of the majority of these manuscripts are related to Silesia, primarily to Cieszyn Silesia. The collection is dominated by manuscripts in Polish, German, Czech and Latin.

The inventory and catalogue documentation of individual historic collections was drafted in different time periods, from the 1820s onwards. It consists of various lists and catalogues, usually made irrespective of any standards regulating the methods of cataloguing hand-written materials. Most of the manuscripts gathered by Reverend Szersznik (from section DD I to DD VII) are listed in a topographical register which was drawn up in accordance with the random arrangement of manuscripts on the shelves. However, other collections of hand-written materials are arranged in accordance with their theme, which is reflected by the documentation related to them. Therefore, even though there are no indices, this documentation serves as an efficient searching tool. Another thing which contributes to its usefulness are detailed descriptions of individual items. It partially makes up for frequent mistakes, structural inconsistencies and the unclear layout of individual registers and records. New acquisitions of our Library and older materials which have not been catalogued so far are currently being profiled and gradually entered into a database which is available online. The database also contains descriptions of some manuscripts from individual historic collections.