History of the library

History of the library

The Scientific Information Center is a purpose-built workplace of the FSV, which with its information collections, library and bibliographic activities helps pedagogical and scientific research activities. The core of the center lies in an extensive library of 211,000 books, brochures, magazines and newspapers. They form a substantial part of the collection, as the library was built in the past as a center to serve mainly the journalists. However, allow us to clarify this statement with a little excursion into history.


The beginnings of the library date back to the 1950s. Although it is now an academic workplace, it has undergone a rapid development over the course of its existence that has been conditioned by societal changes. Our library collection is the result of a debate on the post-war position of journalism: in its foundation there is the attempt of the alliance movement to restore the first-republic tradition, then the political interpretation of journalism as a central instrument in promoting the totalitarian power system and consequently the promotion of academic independence. It is precisely this prism through which the development of the institute of the Scientific Information Center prior to the emergence of its present form in 1983 should be seen. In particular, it is possible to monitor the organizational changes and the development of two basic collections united on the date stated above. It is, on the one hand, a collection of the series of “Novinářský studijní ústav/the Journalism Study Institute” (hereinafter referred to as NSU) and the secondary literature associated in the "Žurnalistický fond/Journalism Collection" (hereinafter referred to as ŽF).

The NSU emerges as an alliance movement gathering journalism literature released in post-war time. Since 1949, its collection was expanding on the basis of the delivery of books within "Akce K" event, which meant the dissolution of private and especially of monastery libraries.

During the official establishment of the NSU from the spring of 1953 it is already perceived as a state organization under the head of “the Union of Czechoslovak Writers.” The library was located in the building of the Union at Vinohradská Street (on the site of the former Federal Assembly, today the building of the National Museum) and opened on September 20th.

Another key date is the year 1967, when the entire NSU joins the "Fakulta osvěty a novinářství/Faculty of Edification and Journalism" FON (since 1960 a separate faculty within Charles University; FON is an organizational mutation of FSV from 1965/66 to 1968). The associated relocation to Pařížská Street (with a one-year stopover at the former soda water factory in Kobylisy) will toss the NSU collection for long years into the provisional situation, as "the smallest and the least suitable spaces were chosen for it" (as noted by former director Karel Malec). Further existence of the collection within the faculty is characterized by the efforts to reach organizational independence. After the "Prague-Spring" intermezzo within the "Faculty of Social Sciences and Publicistics" (FSVP, a partial name of the faculty in 1968-1972), it joins after 1972  “the Institute of Theory and Practice of Journalism” at the newly established "Faculty of Journalism" (the name of the faculty will remain the same until May 1990). Since 1975, the collection for the first time forms part of the central faculty library, and since 1983 it has the status of "scientific library of ŽF." As a result of the transformation of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, the department of journalism (and within it also the study library) became independent after 1956 and located in Maltézské Square. In 1960, after having acquired the status of the faculty of Charles University, the department of journalism became a part of “the Institute of Edification and Journalism” (ION, a scheme of the FSV in 1953/54-1965/66). After 1961, it started building its own library, which included the collections of the former departments of journalism, librarianship, and the social sciences from the abolished Slavonic studies. After 1963, the ION was placed - with a one-year stopover in the building of the Faculty of Law - in Karolinum at Ovocný trh. The normalization of the conditions after the abolition of the FSVP led to the return of the library department (and a corresponding library collection) to the Faculty of Arts of Charles University after 1973. Finally, in 1975, besides the NSU, the ŽF forms the remaining half of the library, and within SVI the "study library" in Týn (Ungelt). An important turning point in the SVI's own history is the allocation of existing premises in Hollar where the study part (i.e. the former ŽF) was moved according to the organizational structure at that time.

After the year of 1990

After the establishment of the "Faculty of Social Sciences" in 1990, SVI retained its independent status. Part of the NSU book and magazine collections was afflicted by the floods in August 2002. At that time, the library depository was flooded in Pařížská Street. The water that flooded the warehouse space up to 1.70 m destroyed 30,000 volumes. The library replaced these premises with depositories and reorganized the structure from 1983; the main function of the center is currently being performed by “the central library” in Hollar.

Another part of SVI is the "Library in Opletalova," gathering collections of economic literature, based in Opletalova Street.

Although there have been many reorganizations, history is still clearly perceptible in the library collection. Its basic component, that is a collection of specialized literature designated for study and research purposes, accentuates the tradition of the “journalism collection.” The collection of magazines and newspapers, which includes various Czech and foreign periodicals from the second half of the 19th century to the present day (Národní listy, Národní politika, Lidové noviny, Venkov, České slovo, Právo lidu, Pražský ilustrovaný zpravodaj, etc.) rises from the collection of "Journalism Study Institute." The collection particularly includes the so-called Laurin Library, a specialized collection of professional journalistic literature, acquired  before the year of 1960 for the ŽF, but for scholarly-related reasons it was also assigned to the NSU administration at the same time (it can be said in the exaggeration that compilation of the Laurin library is the oldest enterprise of the SVI). The library was founded and built by Arne Laurin (1889-1945), editor-in-chief of Prager Presse and patron of the National Library. The collection contains 7,707 volumes of scholarly literature on journalism from around the world from the 17th century until 1938. Electronic information resources are the youngest and now the most standard component of the library collection.

Sources and literature

  • Archive sources
  • Archive of Charles University, collection of the Institute of Edification and Journalism, collection of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Publicistics and collection of the Faculty of Journalism.