The Library of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia and Interesting Books Stored on its Shelves
The Library of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia is a special library operating in the field of archival science. Although its primary mission is to meet the needs of those employed at the Archives, its books and newspapers can also be viewed by external users. The beginnings of the library go back to 1953, when the then State Archives of the People’s Republic of Slovenia moved out of the National Museum of Slovenia.While searching among the shelves of the library, one can often come across a publication, which can be seen as a “hybrid” between library and archival material. One such publication is a 32 double pages long booklet titled Traffic and Police Regulation for the Provincial Capital of Ljubljana.
Traffic and Police Regulation for the Provincial Capital of Ljubljana
The Library of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia is a special library operating in the field of archival science. Although its primary mission is to meet the needs of the employees of the Archives of RS, external users can also view its books and newspapers, but only within the premises of the library or in the archival reading room. Library collection is thus first and foremost used to support professional and research work of those employed by the parent organization.
The beginnings of the library go back to 1953, when the then State Archives of the People’s Republic of Slovenia moved out of the National Museum of Slovenia, under whose roof it had been operating since its establishment in 1945, and found its new home in the Gruber Palace in Ljubljana. Archival workers began building up their own archival reference library even prior to this move, while they were still located at the National Museum. In addition to books written in the Slovene language, the library also included books and journals that archivists ordered abroad, in countries with a more established archival tradition (France, Austria, Germany, Italy). After the archive moved into the Gruber Palace and the Virant House in Levstik Square, the “archival part” of the museum library collection was moved to the new location as well, eventually becoming the basis for the independent archival special library that we know today.
From the very start, the library has been operating as an internal library, whose holdings have been acquired in one of the following ways:
- by separating books from archival fonds, which were transferred into archives by their creators (books separated from the fonds of the State Attorneys Office, for example, became an important addition to the existing collection of early official journals and legislative publications);
- by receiving books through legal deposit, meaning that users needed to deliver a copy of their work to the library in exchange for the permission to use reproductions of archival material in their publishing;
- by exchanging duplicates and newly published books with field-related institutions in Slovenia and abroad;
- by purchasing Slovenian and foreign books and journals from the field of archival science and history.
According to the 1954 work report and final account, by the end of 1954 the library included a total of 1200 books and spent 169,987 dinars that year for new book purchases. Over years, the library collection has grown and today includes over 34,000 books and journals, most of them dealing with the subject of archival science, Slovenian history, administrative history, auxiliary sciences of history, local history, and ethnology. There is also a number of archival guides and inventories through collections of archival institutions in Slovenia and abroad. The library is well stocked with books on paper restoration and conservation as well as with books on film and film records preservation, since such literature is most frequently consulted by our colleagues in the Book and Paper Conservation Centre and in the Slovenian Film Archives, two specific departments that operate within the Archives.
The library is also a home to a large collection of official journals, regulations and legislative acts. Stored on our shelves are federal and republic official journals for the time of the Yugoslav state (1918-1991), Austrian provincial (1780-1918) and state collections of laws and statutes (1849-1918), discussions of the Carniolan assembly (1861-1914), special and place registers, statistical reports of central state bodies, and collections of laws adopted by various Habsburg rulers. We also keep some rare and valuable old prints, such as the first edition of Valvasor’s The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (1689), collection of patents and decrees issued by the Empress Maria Theresia between 1759 and 1770, topography of the Kingdom of Hungary (1750), customs acts for the years 1775 and 1807, calendar of saints with descriptions of their lives (1717), a book on healing properties of nature with recipes on how to cure various illnesses (1718) and many more.
Although the need for a librarian to manage such a library was first expressed as early as 1946 by the director of the Central State Archives of Slovenia in his proposal for the new regulation on archival profession, it wasn’t until 1954 that the library actually got its first librarian. From that year on (except for four years between 1973 and 1977), the Archives regularly employed librarians who took care of the library holdings and, by doing so, supported archival research and scientific work. The first person to manage the collection, after its move from the National Museum of Slovenia, was Dr. Cene Logar (1954-1973), who also wrote the library’s first accession book and compiled its first card catalogue. After a few years’ break, his work was continued by Dr. Milček Komelj (1977-1982), for a short while also by Milan Škrabec (1983), and between 1983 and 2000 by Marija Vera Erjavec. Since 2001, the library is led by Alenka Hren.
In 1997, the library became a full member of the system Cobiss (Cooperative Online Bibliographic System and Services), enabling more people to get access to information about the library’s holdings. External users often admit that it was through Cobiss catalogue that they stumbled across information about some “hidden treasure”, about a book or a journal, which in the whole of Slovenia could only be found on our bookshelves.
While searching among the shelves of the library, one can often come across a publication, which can be seen as a “hybrid” between library and archival material. One such publication, which we could put on our library shelves or place among documents in an archival box in our archival repository, is a 32 double pages long booklet titled Traffic and Police Regulation for the Provincial Capital of Ljubljana. Written in Slovene and German, the booklet was published by the Ljubljana Town Hall in 1897. To commemorate the annual European Mobility Week, which is to take place next month, and to put into perspective our current way of life, when pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other participants in traffic must plough their way through ever increasing number of cars and “steel” horses on the streets of Ljubljana, it would be interesting to go back a century or so and see how traffic, street regulations and sanitation were taken care of then. In addition to a short presentation of the Library of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, this month’s archivalia takes us back to a time, when, instead of screeching sound of car brakes, the streets of Ljubljana echoed with the sound of horse hooves and squeaking of carts and carriages, bending under the weight of the load that people of Ljubljana were transporting from one end of the Carniolan capital to another. We kindly invite you to have a look at this regulation, which is published here.