The book collection of the People’s Library consists of about 17,000 volumes, including 2,000 old prints (and 7 incunabula). It is dominated by Polish belles lettres and works on history, philosophy and theology. The collection of periodicals is also quite extensive. It includes e.g. Polish emigration magazines from the 19th century. Due to the fact that many donated books came from old and often exquisite collections gathered by bibliophiles, there are numerous valuable and rare works in the People’s Library.
The alphabetical catalogue of People’s Library is divided into two parts:
- an alphabetical catalogue of old prints, which includes books and magazines published up to and including 1800;
- an alphabetical catalogue of new prints, which includes books and magazines published from 1801 onwards.
The alphabetical catalogue of the People’s Library was created at the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s. It was drawn up by hand on cards measuring 12.5 x 21 cm. Most descriptions were written by Ludwik Brożek. The catalogue, which was made irrespective of library standards, contains numerous mistakes, gaps and inconsistencies. Despite its faults, it is still the main searching tool for the collection of the People’s Library. As the process of cataloguing the resources of Cieszyn Library goes on, the descriptions of books from the People’s Library are gradually entered into catalogue databases, namely old prints, book and magazine databases.
The catalogue does not include the descriptions of books and magazines which were singled out from the People’s Library when the collection of the Historic Branch of the Silesian Library was being rearranged. These books and magazines, along with similar items singled out from other historic collections belonging to the Historic Branch, were merged into separate repositories of non-serial publications and magazines. Alphabetical catalogues of both the abovementioned repositories are available in a digital version (book catalogue; magazine catalogue).
The call marks of books and magazines included in this library can be found in the top left corner of the card.
- main heading
- statement of responsibility (often incomplete),
- publisher’s name and publication place and year (usually only publication place and year)
- list of volumes.
Many catalogue cards bear signs of corrections, additions or underscores which were the basis for arranging them in an alphabetical order. Moreover, references to Estreicher’s bibliography were added to most descriptions. Some descriptions have cross references to personal entries or titles of works which were co-published or bound in one volume.
Brożek: W stulecie pierwszej cieszyńskiej wyprawy po książki polskie do Krakowa, “Kalendarz Głosu Ludu 1948”, Ostrava 1947, pp. 38-40; F. Zahradnik: Czytelnia Ludowa w Cieszynie – w setną rocznicę założenia, “Biuletyn Informacyjny Biblioteki Śląskiej”, 1960, no. 3, pp. 106; Idem: Czytelnia Ludowa w Cieszynie, “Zaranie Śląskie”, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 151-166; M. Fazan: Czytelnia Polska w Cieszynie (1848-1854). Przyczynek do kształtowania się i rozwoju polskiego życia kulturalnego na Śląsku Cieszyńskim, “Książnica Śląska” 1979-1982, Katowice 1983, pp. 113-137; J. Konieczny: Pierwsza polska biblioteka, (in:) “Kalendarz Cieszyński 1986”, Cieszyn 1985, pp. 35-36; M. Danel: Biblioteka Czytelni Ludowej w Cieszynie, (in:) Pamiętnik Cieszyński / [chief editor Idzi Panic]. Vol. 10, Cieszyn 1995, pp. 25-46.