National Library of the Czech Republic

  • our website
  • main catalogue
  • eds katalog
You are here: Home About us About NL National library's history

From Klementinum's History

Dates in history


11th century first records attesting the existence of St. Clement's Chapel (Sv. Kliment)
13th - 14th century there is a Studium generale - a latin school at a Dominican monastery - it eventually merges with the Prague university
1366 Charles IV donates a set of codices to the university
1556 the Jesuits build a college upon the ruins of the Dominican monastery - and its name is Klementinum
1622 from now the Charles University is administered by Jesuits who transfer the Charles University libraries to Klementinum
17th - 18th century an important Jesuit press, an astronomical observatory, and the university, then called Charles-Ferdinand's University (Karlo-Ferdinandova Universita) all are housed in Klementinum
1773 - 1777 Jesuits leave Klementinum, the university and library stay and, thanks to the efforts of Francis the Count Kinsky, they receive from the empress Mary Theresa the title of Imperial-Royal Public and University Library (Cisarsko-kralovska verejna a univerzitni biblioteka)
1781 since now the Prague printers hand in a legal deposit copy to the library
1807 the duty of legal deposit copy is extended to cover all Czech printers
1837 the Mozart Memorial (now a part of Music Department) is founded - it contains both manuscript and printed documents
1848 Klementinum is converted into students' fortress against the armies of general Windischgrätz
1918 the Public and University Library is taken over by the newly founded Czechoslovakia
1919 the Czechoslovak Institute Bibliography is incorporated into the library (Ceskoslovensky ustav bibliograficky)
1924 Slavic Library is founded
1929 Slavic Library is transferred to Klementinum
1935 the library is renamed to National and University Library, a law is passed stipulating the legal deposit copy duty
1939 after the closure of Czech universities and colleges, it continues under the name of Municipal and University Library (Zemska a univerzitni knihovna)
1958 all large Prague libraries are merged into a single centralized one with the name of State Library of the Czech Republic (Statni knihovna CSR)
1990 the library is renamed and its new name - the National Library (Narodni knihovna) - does justice to the library's tradition and objectives
1996 Central Depository is inaugurated in Hostivar
1997 from now on, information on our book collection is transformed into electronic forma

Architectural development of Klementinum

The Klementinum complex - one of the most notable Prague historical buildings - has undergone a long architectural evolution. It extends over 2 hectares of the historic Prague centre. Its beginnings are associated with the arrival of Jesuits (1556) who, at the site of a Dominican monastery, commence building a complex of religious and school buildings. The main construction period of Klementinum, which gave its Baroque appearance, ran from 1578 to 1726 and is associated with a number of famous architects (Marek Fontana, Carlo and Francesco Lurago, Giovanni Domenico Orsi, Domenico Bossi, Giovanni Bartolomeo Cometa, Frantisek Maxmilian Kanka, Kilian Ignac Dientzenhofer) and other artists contributing to the interior decoration (Petr Brandl, Matyas Bernard Braun, Jan Hiebl, Ignac Raab, Krystof Tausch, Josef Kramolin, Vaclav Vavrinec Reiner). Along the whole of the eighteen and nineteen centuries, no significant architectural modification occurred. Only in the years 1924 to 1936, the architect Ladislav Machon modernizes the buildings to suit the needs of the National, University, and Technical Library.

Famous figures in Klementinum´s history

16th century
Petr Canisius, the founder of Klementinum's college

17th century
Jiri Plachy, a professor and the leader of students fighting against the Swedes (1648); Bohuslav Balbin, a historian

18th century
Stanislav Vydra; Jan Tesanek; Josef Stepling, a mathematician; Antonin Strnad, an astronomer; Karel Rafael Ungar, a historian and head librarian

19th century
Bernard Bolzano; Pavel Josef Safarik, library director; Ignac Jan Hanus, philosopher, head librarian; Josef Truhlar, philologist, head librarian

20th century
The library staff includes writers, poets, literary critics and scholars, historians and musicians; e.g.: Vaclav Tille-Riha, Otakar Theer, Otokar Fischer, Hugo Bergmann, Felix Weltsch, Ladislav Vycpalek, Jaromir Borecky, Jan Zivny, Jan Emler, Karel J. Benes, Edmond Konrad, Zdenek Nemecek, Oton Berkopec, Vilem Zavada, Josef Strnadel, Milan Jungmann, Jan Petrmichl, Emma Urbankova.


Oct 03, 2012
Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube