Historical Book Collections
The Manuscripts and Early Printed Books Department of the National Library of the CR preserves historical book collections from the beginnings of literature up to 1800, with several overlaps.
A manuscript collection amounts to ca 14 000 library units. The oldest core is constituted by mediaeval manuscripts of the Prague university. These are followed by manuscripts of the Prague Jesuit College. Another part of the manuscript collections are the manuscripts from monasteries abolished under Emperor Joseph II. Significant manuscript acquisitions also come from the 20th century. The National Library acquired these manuscripts by purchase of some of the noble family libraries (Prague Lobkowicz Library, Thun-Hohenstein Library from Děčín), monasterial libraries (Admont, Osek, Teplá, Cheb) and others (Municipal Library in Zittau).
The collection also includes Oriental manuscripts, Indian manuscripts written on palm leaves, a collection of Greek papyri and the archive of Adalbert Stifter (literary heritage of a representative of Romantism).
Aside from its own holdings, the National Library of the CR also takes care of deposits (about 450 units) - manuscripts of Břevnov Benedictines, Minorites from Český Krumlov etc.
No less important part of the collections are incunabula or firstprints - i.e. the books printed until 1450-1500. The collection’s size is over 4200 items.
The collection of early printed books is dated from 1501 up to 1800 and amounts to 200 000 volumes. Principal task of the National Library of the CR is to collect Czech-language prints and other printed Bohemica. Non-Bohemical printed books kept in the collections continue the tradition of the Jesuit college library and some private libraries (e.g. Prague Lobkowicz Library, Kinsky Library).
Quite independent is a large collection (526 pieces) of graphic single-sheets of university dispute theses from the Baroque period that served as a diploma at the Prague Jesuit University.
Individual manuscripts and early printed books are step-by-step digitised and made accessible in Manuscriptorium digital library. An inseparable part of the Manuscripts and Early Printed Books Department is a reference library that serves both as a staff library for professional cataloguing of book collections and an open access library for users, specialised in historical book collections, their content and history of book culture.