The Library of Matica Srpska
The Matica Srpska Library is the oldest Serbian national library and the first Serbian public and scientific library. It was founded in 1826 in Pest, together with the Matica Srpska Society. The intention of the founders, led by Jovan Hadzic, was to "spread literature and literacy among the Serbs, i.e. to publish Serbian manuscripts and disseminate them". The first issues of the Journal of Matica Srpska (Letopis Matice srpske) which appeared in 1824, the first book editions, the gifts from Russia, as well as other books not known to us, represented the core of the Matica Srpska Library. It opened its doors to the public on August 26th 1838 "to the Slavonic people of any language or origin, who are welcome to enter and read the books". It was situated in the Tekelianum, the institute supporting Serbian students in Pest, which was founded by Sava Tekelija, the president and patron of the Matica Srpska.
The Library received its first known donation from Atanasije Stojkovic in 1832. The same year, it started exchanging books with the Russian Academy of Science. From April 1839, the Library’s collections grew rapidly. The first large personal collections were donated by Platon Atanackovic and Sava Tekelija. Amongst its other donors were also Teodor Pavlovic, Dimitrije Tirol, Vuk Karadzic, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, Jovan Subotic and Jan Kolar. At the time, it was already the largest Serbian library.
The Library was professionally organized in 1842/43 by the writer Jovan Subotic. He prepared and published the first Serbian Current Bibliography in the Letopis Matice Srpske (1842-1847). During 1848 and 1849 both the Library and the Matica Srpska were closed.
In 1864, the Library and the Society were moved to Novi Sad, where their successful development continued. In that period, the collections grew through purchases, subscriptions and, particularly, through the exchange of the Matica Srpska’s publications with the publications of the academies of science, universities, literary and cultural societies and journal publishers from all Slavonic and most European countries, libraries of different institutions and societies as well as through the purchase of, or endowments from private collections
Jovan Djordjevic, a man of literature and theatre, the secretary of Matica Srpska (1857-1859), was the first to suggest a concept according to which the Matica Srpska Library would become a national library. He proposed that all Serbian books and periodicals, Slavonic books and all publications about the Serbian people should be collected. He also proposed that a university library be founded in the Tekelianum.
Jovan Radonic, a historian, was the librarian from 1899 to 1905 and in the Library Rules, he established the principles of planned acquisition, the protection and usage of books and periodicals, and gave the basic principles for setting up a catalogue.
Between the two World Wars, the Matica Srpska Library continued its activities as a public and scientific library. As a public library, its intentions were always to make the books as accessible to the readers as possible. As a scientific library, it provided resources for studies on Vojvodina, which was the aim of the Matica Srpska Society. The universal character of its collections, the successful exchange with Yugoslav and foreign libraries, as well as the needs of scientists from Novi Sad and other Yugoslav centres, encouraged the development of its functions as a general scientific library.
During both World Wars, the Library was closed and its collections remained, fortunately, almost intact.
After World War II, the Library underwent great development in various directions. In 1948 the Matica Srpska Library became the Central Library of Vojvodina and started to receive a copy of every publication, first from Serbia, and in 1965 from all parts of former Yugoslavia. It became an independent institution in 1958. Ever since the foundation of the University of Novi Sad (1960), the Library has contributed to the development of research work at the University by practically functioning as a university library. In accordance with the Law on Librarianship (1994), the National Library of Serbia cooperates with the Matica Srpska Library in the realization of the general interests of library activities in the Republic.
Since 2003 the Matica Srpska Library has regained the status of the central library for all the libraries in Vojvodina, and is in charge of organizing the expert exams for librarians as well.
With its rich collections offering excellent opportunities for cultural, historical and scientific research, and the variety of library and information services, the Matica Srpska Library is a modern library of great significance, even to the region of former Yugoslavia. Its long and continuing existence places the Matica Srpska Library among the institutions of the Serbian people with the longest tradition.
The current collection of the Library of Matica Srpska amounts to more than 3 million books and other publications.
A copy of every published book in Serbia has to be delivered to the Library of Matica Srpska by law.
It owns 671 manuscripts, the largest collection of Serbian books from 15th to 18th century and the richest collection of periodicals from 18th and early 19th century.
As separate collections it preserves the collections that were passed to the Library in form of legacies and donations.
It exchanges the publications with 350 libraries and similar institutions from abroad.
It has an electronic catalogue and bibliography since 1989.
It is in charge of Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) for the publications in Vojvodina.
It has more than 1 million electronic publications.
It allows browsing and searching through domestic and international databases.
The reading rooms have the capacity of 200 seats.
It encourages publishing and exhibitions.
It carries out the restoration and conservation work in specially equipped laboratories.
It has the function of the central library and organizes the expert exams for librarians in Vojvodina.
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