Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava
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History of our Library


The Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava, contributory organization is a regional library founded by the Moravian-Silesian Region. It is a public research library with a universal library collection. The library currently provides its users with both Czech and foreign literature of all scientific branches.

The Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava was established as the Statelearner's Library by the Ministry of Education, Science and Arts on 5 February 1951. The name of our library has changed several times - Statelearner's Library in Ostrava (1951-1953), State Research Library in Ostrava (1954-2000). In 2001, the library was renamed into Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava. It was connected with a change of the founder - the Ministry of Culture was replaced by the Moravian-Silesian Region. Presently, the library is called Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava, contributory organisation. According to the Library Act (No. 257/2001 Coll.), our library became a regional library. That is why it started to pay special attention to regional information - it preserves literature published in our region, continues creating retrospective regional bibliography, creates and publishes current regional bibliography (this used to be made by the Research Library in Olomouc).

After its foundation, the library focused in the fields of mining and metallurgy on a nationwide scale. The library collection consisted of donations from libraries of Industrial Museum, National Museum of Technologies, ministries, technical universities and companies. These gifts became the basis of the holdings. Soon afterwards, the library started to specialise also in the engineering, hygiene and occupational therapy fields and particular attention was paid to Polish literature as well. Other fields were subordinated to regional needs. In the sixties, our library started to construct a universal library collection. It was supported with the legal deposit privilege (1964) - every Czechoslovak publisher had to send a copy of every publication to our library.

All departments were situated on the ground floor and in the basement of the right wing of Ostrava New Town Hall. It should have been only temporary solution (for 5 - 10 years). After reconstruction (1969) and enlargement (library gained rooms in the left wing of the town hall in 1970), library started to offer more specialised services. For example, the department of special collections was established. Unfortunately, because of lack of appropriate premises there has been no radical enlargement of services since then. There have been only limited changes: separate storehouses were built in Ostrava-Přívoz in the seventies and the departments of automation and services to other libraries were located in various parts of Ostrava.

Our library changed a lot in the nineties when almost all workplaces were automated and partially modernised. In 1999, the multimedia study was open as a part of the department of bibliography. Users can study electronic information sources there. In 2000, the schoolroom with computers was adapted.

The library is open to the general public over 15. However, a lot of our users are students (especially university students). Recently, the number of users who visit the library for professional purposes (economic, legal, commercial etc.) has increased.

The Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava, contributory organization does not offer its services only to users who can come in person. It can also satisfy requirements from nearby and distant parts of the Czech Republic - that is possible due to special services such as interlibrary loans, routing of journals and patents, online access to our catalogue. You can find more information about these services at our web site.

The library has served as an advisory body for other libraries of the region since 1978. At present, the library does special duties according to the Library Act - for example it performs itself and coordinates the performance of regional functions by selected basic libraries in the region. In the nineties, the attention was paid particularly to the education of librarians. Our education centre was used almost every day - mainly for information technologies trainings. This was supported by the project called VISK 2.

On the threshold of a new millennium, the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava, contributory organization takes part in various projects. It makes it possible to access valuable foreign electronic information sources. Users can enjoy searching in about 10 foreign (for example Web of Science, OCLC and EBSCO) and 8 Czech information databases. In 2001, the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava became a partner library of the Goethe-Institut in Prague (besides the Research Library in Liberec). That is why it regularly receives quality German publications.

In 2004, the public tender for the urbanistic, architectural, technical and operational design of the new building of the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava was organized. The first prize was given to the project created by L. Kuba and T. Pilař (with cooperation of L. Lachmanová and J. Kratochvíl). Their project (slightly increased cube) symbolizes "box of knowledge". All projects were presented to the public in the exhibition taking place in the House of the Arts.

From 2004 to 2007, the library made an effort to implement Internet to the public libraries of the regio. This activity was very successful.

In the following year, a digitization centre was founded in the library (with a planetary scanner) to digitize valuable regional paper documents. This was the beginning of the digital library of the Moravian-Silesian Region. The cooperation with other memory institutions enabled us to digitize valuable and requested directories, almanacs and extensive sets of regional periodicals in the following years.

In 2006, special attention was paid to the protection of books. Publications started to be marked with magnetic tags. Identification chips are inserted to books at the same time, which is necessary for future automatic loans in the new building.

Two important projects made it easier to search documents in our library - VISK 5 (retroconversion of card catalogues - more than 96,000 remaining catalogue cards were scanned with the participation of all library departments) and VISK 9 (co-operative creation and utilization of national authority files - names of authors and personalities and institutions became unified and standardized).

Free access to Internet has been provided since 2006. This service is frequently used by our users.

In 2006, the project of the new library building was finished by L. Kuba and T. Pilař. Two years later (on March 26, 2008), the financial participation of the state budget was approved by the government (up to amount of 490 millions crowns). The Regional Operational Programme and the Moravian-Silesian Region budget are supposed to finance the rest of the project.

By 2007, all the existing storehouses had been completely filled in with our collections. That is why the new premises were borrowed from the medical school as the fifth storehouse of our library. In 2008, the localization of deposit stations all over Ostrava as well as the increasing number of daily fetched books led to the changes of the library opening hours (half and hour later opening).

In the same year, the acquisition concept of the library changed a lot. The systematic acquisition of company documents such as broadsides and catalogues was cancelled. In consequence of their electronic versions availability, the interest in these types of printed documents had significantly decreased. Furthermore, the library started to specialize a bit into the field of environment pollution and protection (mainly as far as the foreign information sources are concerned). In addition, the special collection for the visually and hearing impaired started to be built due to the grant of the Moravian-Silesian Region. This collection was systematically promoted in 2008, special tools and aids were bought for better access to the documents and "sound catalogue" was created for the visually impaired. The hearing impaired can borrow high quality Czech movies with special subtitles in our library.

In 2008, the library tried to intensify its regional functions. The department of acquisition started to be in search of older Moravian-Silesian publications in various antiquarian bookshops. The library mainly intends to buy historically valuable documents including early printed books. At the end of 2008, the terms of Czech technical standards providing changed a lot. This was connected with the cancellation of the Czech Standards Institute and establishing the Czech Office for Standards, Metrology and Testing as the new publisher of Czech standards. The library has not been entitled to copy any standards or their parts since 2009. The emphasis has been placed on the electronic database of these documents.

It is necessary to modernize the library computer network on a regular basis. That is why new local database and www servers were purchased in 2008. Since 2009, the automated library system (T Series) has been running on the Linux operating system.

In August 2009, a new library system called Aleph 500 was put into operation. It brought a lot of new functions and improvements. For example, it became much easier for our users to search for documents and to order them. The cooperation with other libraries (including the Union Catalogue of the Czech Republic) and statistical data retrieval were simpified as well. The data conversion to this new system was very demanding and time-consuming for the staff of the library.

The new library building was postponed due to financial reasons but it still remained an important part of the Moravian-Silesian Region development strategy. At the end of the year, a new storehouse had to be found - our existing storehouses became full again. New bookshelves for this storage could be bought thanks to the special grant provided by the Moravian-Silesian Region.

But the library had to put up with premises problems again. The Ostrava City had decided to built a new passage through the New Town Hall. That is why the library had to leave two offices. The counting office and the periodicals cataloguing office had to be moved which resulted in further changes. Our servers were moved to Prokešovo nám. 2.

In 2009, the collections marking with identification chips and magnetic tags was finished. It started in 2006 and was financially supported by the Moravian-Silesian Region.

In 2009-2012, the library received the financial support of the OKD Foundation to implement four projects: "Modern Web Presentation of the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava", "Renewable Sources of Energy in the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava", "E-books or a New Challenge for Libraries" and "With One Card to More Libraries".

Lea Prchalová (the directress of our library) became a chairman of The Czech Republic Library Association (SDRUK) in 2010.

In 2011, the library celebrated its 60th anniversary. On this occasion, the exhibition called "Educational and Cultural Services of the Regional Library" was prepared in the premises of the Regional Authority of the Moravian-Silesian Region. The library also published the regional retrospective bibliography of Ostrava (2 volumes) and the report dealing with the last ten years of the library. In March, the history of the library was commemorated at the festive staff meeting (attended by prominent leaders of the region).

The Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava became a partner of the 1st Ostrava Summer Book Fair in 2011. The library exhibition stand was installed to promote its services and offer its publications and leaflets. The bibliography of Ostrava was launched at the fair as well. Furhermore, a successful seminar called With a Book You're Never Alone was organized there and attracted an extraordinary attention. The 2nd Ostrava Summer Book Fair was held in June 2012 and our library prepared the stand in collaboration with 5 museums of the region this time. On the eve of the fair, the 22nd acquisition seminar was organized by the acquisition section of the Czech Republic Library Association.

In 2012, there were some improvements in library electronic services. ADAM, new module of automated library system used for digital objects, was purchased, the library web presentation was adapted for the people with visual impairment (according to the Blind Friendly Web) and wifi connection was offered in both lending and study room.

In 2013, the library introduced a new service - electronic document delivery. Users can get digital copies of copyright-protected documents (either from library collections or from the Digital Library of the Moravian-Silesian Region). In May, the library took part in the Ostrava Museum Night for the first time. 850 people came to visit its premises, for example underground stores. The library was awarded for its corporate social responsibility (public opinion poll - 1st place) and for its web presentation (Biblioweb - 3rd place).

Important events in the history of our library

  • 1950 - period of preparations and adaptations, three employees of Technical Library of Industrial Museum were preparing opening of new research library

  • 1951 - Statelearner's Library in Ostrava was established on 1 January, first organisational regulations were published in February

  • 1951 - library owned 25.000 physical volumes

  • 1952 - bibliography creation and bibliographic searches were started up; processing including cataloguing was put into practice

  • 1953 - there were three departments in library: department of services to users, economic and administrative department, technical department

  • 1954 - new organisational regulations were published, library was renamed into State Research Library in Ostrava

  • 1955 - library was managed by Oldřich Sedlář, Drahoslav Gawrecki (first director) had left for Olomouc (for 1 year)

  • 1956 - another reorganization - foundation of six departments

  • 1956 - beginning of international interlibrary loan services

  • 1956 - two-shift operation was started in departments of services

  • 1956 - beginning of selective dissemination of information via lists of new accessions

  • 1957 - start of yearly registration of users and their categorization

  • 1957 - annual professional course in librarianship was organised for the first time, education of librarians has never stopped since then

  • 1958 - company documents started to be processed

  • 1958 - acquisitions of new users at secondary schools

  • 1959 - company documents started to be lent regularly

  • 1959 - Jaroslav Břustek succeeded Drahoslav Gawrecki as a director of the library (on 1 July)

  • 1961 - new organisational regulations were published by North Moravian Regional People's Committee, period of direct administration by ministry finished

  • 1961 - tendency towards constructing a universal library collection predominated

  • 1962 - list of journals acquired from foreign currency resources was published in North Moravian Region for the first time

  • 1963 - routing of medical journals started on a large scale which was unique in whole Czechoslovakia

  • 1964 - legal deposit privilege was legalized (No. 140/1964 Coll.)

  • 1965 - routing of technical journals started

  • 1967 - new department of collection protection began to make continuous stock revisions

  • 1968 - Jaroslav Břustek retired, Božena Kubalová stood in for him

  • 1968 - Otakar Entler succeeded her as a director of library at the end of the year

  • 1969 - department of special collections (quite separate and independent) was established

  • 1969 - library gained premises on the ground floor of the left wing of the New Town Hall

  • 1969-1970 - general reconstruction and modernisation of library interior

  • 1969-1970 - personnel purges and screenings

  • 1970 - fourth organisational regulations were published - separate department of periodicals was formed; acquisition and processing of monographs were transferred to the left wing of the town hall

  • 1970 - first attempt to use computers (system of ASI OBIS OKD) - listing of bibliographic bulletins

  • 1971 - department of special collections opened well-equipped study and lending room

  • 1971 - one employee of our library started to work as a methodologist

  • 1972 - library started to build up a regional library centre (by virtue of North Moravian Regional People's Committee resolution)

  • 1973 - separate storehouses started to be built at Machar Street in Ostrava-Přívoz (adjoining district)

  • 1973 - routing of company journals and broadsides was expanded and ranked among important services of our library

  • 1974 - Otakar Entler retired, Zdenka Jurdová (later Herelová) succeeded him

  • 1974 - library was definitely profiled as multidisciplinary information centre

  • 1975-1989 - centralised control of libraries in all districts of North Moravian Region (it was taken over by State Research Library in 1978)

  • 1977 - current contents service was put into practice (it was cancelled in the eighties because of lack of interest)

  • 1978 - regional library centre was definitively built up, methodical guidance of public libraries in region was expanded

  • 1978 - organisational change

  • 1982 - storehouses in Ostrava-Přívoz were finished

  • 1983 - radical organisational changes - trade unions were dissolved because of their inutility (they were established in 1974)

  • 1984 - trial operation of loans started in storehouse in Ostrava-Přívoz (it stopped in 1990 - for financial reasons and because of absence of catalogues)

  • 1987 - library researched into information needs and requests of library users in North Moravian Region

  • 1988 - preparation for overhaul of central heating and public health engineering facilities, 200.000 physical volumes were removed1989 - as a consequence of reconstruction of central heating and public health engineering facilities, annual output dropped to 60 % (compared with other years); part of the storage was rebuilt to computer centre

  • 1989-1993 - library co-operates with Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University, Prague - library established consulting centre for students from Moravia

  • 1990 - cancellation of censorship - prohibited books were returned to our collections and public catalogues, multiple copies of out-of-date literature were withdrawn

  • 1990 - attempts to acquire empty buildings and premises for our library were unsuccessful, on the other hand there were even raising efforts to evict the library from the town hall; library activities were still limited by overhaul of public health engineering facilities

  • 1990 - building of computer centre was finished

  • 1991 - trial operation of computer was shut down, the centre was rebuilt to new reprography workplace

  • 1991 - beginning of automated system of users registration (CDS/ISIS) and automated processing of company documents (ISIS)

  • 1991 - fees for some services were put into practice (because of financial position of our library)

  • 1992 - Ministry of Culture became a new founder of our library (Regional People's Committee was dissolved)

  • 1992 - computers were used for seven automated scopes of duties (for example company journals files, book-keeping, publishers files) - actual beginning of library automation

  • 1993 - new organisational regulations (approved by Ministry of Culture) were published; staff reduction continued because of library financial position; library became an allowance organisation (it was a non profit organisation before)

  • 1993 - department of bibliography joined co-operative processing for Czech National Bibliography - articles in Czech journals (analytical processing of regional periodicals in the system of CDS/ISIS), Czech National Bibliography is distributed in an electronic form (diskettes); it also started to excerpt documents for retrospective regional bibliography of Karviná region

  • 1994 - software for automated library system was chosen and put into practice - TINLIB (now called T-Series), program units of Acquisition and Catalogue (monographs) started to be used

  • 1995 - OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) was installed; classified public catalogue was closed and moved (because of lack of premises), name catalogue of non periodical publications and subject staff catalogues were closed as well

  • 1995 - access to Internet (2 computers for users)

  • 1995 - Zdeňka Herelová retired, Lea Prchalová succeeded her in August

  • 1996 - legal deposit privilege was reduced - our library was acquiring non periodical publications only from Moravian and Silesian regions (not from whole Czech Republic as before)

  • 1996 - library became a member of New York Academy of Sciences

  • 1997 - periodicals started to be processed in the automated system of TINLIB

  • 1997 - basement premises in the left wing of the New Town Hall were flooded (all patents and about 8.000 books were damaged)

  • 1998-1999 - retrospective data conversion (card records were digitised) - it was necessary for automated loans

  • 1999 - loans of all non periodical publications were automated (T-Series System)

  • 1999 - multimedia study was established as a part of the department of bibliography (for example information databases and professional CD-ROMs are available here)

  • 1999 - investment programme for completion of the building at 28. října Street was established - but finances were not acquired and the building was finished for a different purpose

  • 2000 - foreign information databases were offered to users by virtue of Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports programmes (for example EBSCO, ScienceDirect, later Web of Knowledge)

  • 2000 - our participation in RETROKON project (national programme of retrospective data conversion) finished; project called "State Research Library in Ostrava - centre of regional information system" was successfully defended

  • 2000 - department of services to users was renovated; new education centre was established (including schoolroom with computers)

  • 2001 - our library was renamed into Moravian-Silesian Research Library - it was decision of Moravian-Silesian Region (new founder of the library)

  • 2001 - Goethe-Institut in Prague chose our library as its partner library in Czech Republic

  • 2002 - library started to do new special duties according to the Library Act - for example it performs itself and coordinates the performance of regional functions by selected basic libraries in the region (it includes statistical data processing, comparisons, methodical visitations etc.)

  • 2002 - investment programme for new building of our library was established

  • 2002 - current regional bibliographies started to be published (they are called Moravian-Silesian Region in the year of …)

  • 2003 - the department of bibliography published the retrospective regional bibliography of Karvina region which covers regional literature from 18th to the end of 20th century

  • 2004 - public tender for the urbanistic, architectural, technical and operational design of the new building of the Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava was organized. The project created by Ladislav Kuba and Tomáš Pilař was honoured with the first prize.

  • 2004 - official name of our library was changed to Moravian-Silesian Research Library in Ostrava, contributory organization

  • 2004 -card name and subject catalogues were closed, their completing was stopped (it meant that all card catalogues for users had been ended in our library)

  • 2004 - library started to make an effort to implement Internet to all public libraries of the region

  • 2005 - digitization centre was founded in the library (with a planetary scanner) to digitize valuable regional paper documents

  • 2006 - special attention was paid to the protection of books - publications started to be marked with magnetic tags (identification chips are inserted to books at the same time, which is necessary for future automatic loans in the new building)

  • 2006 - free access to Internet

  • 2006 - two important projects made it easier to search documents in our library - VISK 5 (retroconversion of card catalogues - more than 96,000 remaining catalogue cards were scanned with the participation of all library departments) and VISK 9 (co-operative creation and utilization of national authority files - names of authors and personalities and institutions became unified and standardized).

  • 2006 - project of the new library building was finished by architects L. Kuba and T. Pilař

  • 2007 - all existing storehouses were full, new premises were borrowed from the medical school (the fifth storehouse)

  • 2007 - special attention was paid to environmental education and edification (project called Development of Environmental Consultancy and Information Centers Network in the Moravian-Silesian Region) - 48 discussions and lectures

  • 2007 - library collections exceeded 1,000,000 physical volumes (1,011,573)

  • 2007 - it was decided to specialize in the documents dealing with the field of environment pollution and protection

  • 2007 - special collection for the visually and hearing impaired started to be built (acquisition of 1,513 physical volumes)

  • 2007 - systematic acquisition of printed company documents was cancelled because their electronic versions were freely available

  • 2007 - continuation of digitization activities - valuable regional documents were digitized in cooperation with other memory institutions of the region

  • 2007 - there was only one public library without Internet access in the region (due to regional functions and state grants)

  • 2008 - government decree from March 26, 2008 approved the new library building and financial participation of the state budget up to amount of 490 millions crowns (3 financial sources are supposed - the state budget, Regional Operational Programme and Moravian-Silesian Region budget). However, the public tender for the general construction supplier was cancelled by the investor and the building did not start.

  • 2008 - the library tried to intensify its regional functions - the department of acquisition started to be in search of older Moravian-Silesian publications in various antiquarian bookshops (61 titles)

  • 2008 - the localization of deposit storehouses all over Ostrava as well as the increasing number of daily fetched books led to the changes of the library opening hours (half and hour later opening)

  • 2008 - new local database and www servers were purchased, thereby the library computer network was modernized

  • 2009 - new library system called Aleph was bought and implemented - it brought a lot of improvements to our services

  • 2009 - the new library building was postponed due to financial reasons, it remained an important part of the Moravian-Silesian Region development strategy

  • 2009 - our servers had to be moved to Prokešovo nám. 2 because of a new passage built in the New Town Hall

  • 2009 - Lea Prchalová (the directress of our library) became a chairman of The Czech Republic Library Association (SDRUK)

  • 2010 - remote electronic information resources (databases) became accessible also from computers outside our library

  • 2010 - interlibrary loan service was automated

  • 2010 - new separate storehouse at Cihelní Street was rented (the sixth storehouse)

  • 2010 - the Government of the Czech Republic decided to cancel its financial support for the new library building

  • 2011 - 60th anniversary celebration - festive staff meeting, exhibition called "Educational and Cultural Services of the Regional Library" (in the premises of the Regional Authority of the Moravian-Silesian Region), publication of the regional retrospective bibliography of Ostrava (2 volumes) and the report dealing with the last ten years of the library

  • 2011 - changes of the lending room - new circulation desk was installed, old name card catalogue was removed (descriptive entries are available in an electronic form)

  • 2011 - the library became a partner of the 1st Summer Book Fair in Ostrava

  • 2011 - Aleph (automated library system) was upgraded from version 18 to version 20

  • 2012 (February) - the library started to publish regional e-books - for example Silesian myths and legends

  • 2012 (April) - third place in the Biblioweb (national competition of libary web pages) in the cathegory of municipalities over 20,000 population

  • 2012 (May) - Bibliobox (facility for returning books) was purchased and placed in front of the library

  • 2012 (June) - 2nd Summer Book Fair in Ostrava

  • 2012 (autumn) - adapting the library website for the people with visual impairment (according to the Blind Friendly Web methodology)

  • 2012 (December) - ADAM (new module of automated library system) was purchased to store and access digital objects

  • 2013 (January) - new smart library cards were launched (they include photos of users)

  • 2013 (March) - 3rd Book Fair in Ostrava

  • 2013 (May) - the library took part in the Ostrava Museum Night for the first time

  • 2013 (September) - the department of services to users was divided into two parts - department of library services (including services to libraries) and central loan department

  • 2013 (November) - the library started to scan covers and tables of contents of regional publications

  • 2013 (December) - the digitization centre was equipped with new software and hardware technologies

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Author: Monika Oravová
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