The project “Books Discovered Once Again” is concerned with non-Bohemical library fonds, which came to former Czechoslovakia and subsequently to the National Lilbrary of the Czech Republic during World War II and shortly afterwards. The project's research is aimed at the Reserve Fonds of the National Library of the Czech Republic, where the above-mentioned 300,000 volumes are placed. One of the project’s main goals is to describe and subsequently catalogue 12,000 volumes and in doing so, allow the readers and researchers in particular to study these books. These activities are still underway. So far, 16,000 books have been catalogued. In addition to cataloguing these books, historical and archival research have been conducted, with the aim to put the journey of these documents in the wider European cultural and historical context. This process included preparation of a legal analysis defining the legal framework for these library fonds, prepared by the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Charles University, Prof. JUDr. Jan Kuklík, DrSc. The last set of activities implemented within the project were directed primarily at its popularization. In cooperation with the Norwegian partner, traditional as well as modern presentation outputs have been prepared - a classical and virtual exhibitions, a promotion video, the project’s website and education programme. Among important outputs aimed at the professional public were two seminars held in Prague and Kristiansand, with lectures by prominent Norwegian and Czech historians dealing with the management of cultural heritage.
Throughout the project, its activities met with positive response not only from the professional public, but also from the representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the readers of the National Library of the Czech Republic. Thanks to these reactions, the project was expanded by follow-up bilateral activities. In these additional projects, the implementation team members were engaged in further activities that significantly expanded the range of the project's outputs. The first of them selected 20 original owners from among over 2,000 so far identified people and institutions, and put together their stories. These are now available as an anthology in Czech and also as multi-media profiles. The second project was dedicated to the creation of a promotional video and an educational programme, which would both further promote the knowledge gained within the project and pass it onto the general public. The third project will implement important promotion outputs - a series of lectures for secondary school and university students in both partner countries and a participation of team members in a major professional conference. At present, a fourth project is being prepared. This time, it will focus on the research of foreign archives and a publication of an updated version of the monograph, summarizing the knowledge gained.
The National Library of the Czech Republic is the largest library in the Czech Republic, holding the leading position in the system of Czech public libraries. The library’s collection is universal and of European importance. The institution stores domestically published books, a selection of foreign literature, a large collection of historical documents and special collections. Besides these activities, it contributes to the creation of library standards and organizes various cultural events, including exhibitions, concerts and discussions.
In the past, among its other functions, the National Library served as a central depository for many individual book collections originating from various sources – closed memory institutions, dissolved religious orders, books seized during World War II, and so on. The majority of deposited documents have not been processed so far. Therefore, we do not know the exact contents of these collections, their structure or the legal framework, which means that these are not accessible to the public or for the purposes of research. This is another reason why the National Library has initiated the project Books Discovered Once Again.Národní knihovna
The National Library's foreign partner is the Norwegian institution Stiftelsen Arkivet. In terms of size, Stiftelsen Arkivet is a smaller organization than the National Library. The foundation is housed in a former gestapo building. For a long time, its experts have been addressing the issue of the interpretation and re-interpretation of World War II, as well as the issue of using of the events of World War II to encourage democratic attitudes. The history of the building in which the institution resides is presented in the permanent exhibition within the broader context of the events of World War II.
Together, we raise the question in the project of how books that were confiscated or brought to the country illustrate the treatment of European cultural heritage. We attempt to reconstruct the stories of these books and to put them into the context of the events of World War II. Yet we cannot achieve this by merely cataloguing and publishing the records in the database. This is why we have joined the experts from Stiftelsen Arkivet, who have great experience with the specialized interdisciplinary presentation of the topic of war. We will cooperate closely with our partner on both exhibitions and possibly on educational events, and so on.Stiftelsen Arkivet
To implement the project Books Discovered Once Again, we have teamed up with the Norwegian partner institution Stiftelsen Arkivet. This means that our team is Czech – Norwegian. As the principle project implementer is the National Library of the Czech Republic, the Czech part of the team is larger. We have two project managers, a historian, a team of librarians who sort and catalogue books, and two people responsible for project promotion.