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National Library of the Czech Republic, Prague

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STT – Incunabula, Early Printed Books and Maps 1450-1800

Name and coverage of file

The name of our database is STT – Incunabula, Early Printed Books and Maps 1450-1800, but including also collections with overlaps to 19. anb 20. century. It contained ca 150 000 records (counted on 2015).

Important part of the collections are incunabula or firstprints - i.e. the books printed until 1450-1500. The collection’s size is over 4200 items. The collection of early printed books is dated from 1501 up to 1800 and amounts to 160 000 volumes. Principal task of the National Library of the CR is to collect Czech-language prints and other printed Bohemica. Non-Bohemical printed books kept in the collections continue the tradition of the Jesuit college library and some private libraries (e.g. Prague Lobkowicz Library, Kinsky Library). Quite independent is a large collection (526 pieces) of graphic single-sheets of university dispute theses.

Historical note


The National Library has in its holdings approximately 4,200 incunabula. It is the largest collection of incunabula on the territory of the Czech Republic, being at the same time one of the most extensive in Central Europe. Its main part was constituted already in the last third of the 18th century when the collections of the other Jesuit Colleges and subsequently many convents in Bohemia abolished under Joseph II were added to the holdings of the Library of the Klementinum Jesuit College, which had further been joined by volumes of old college libraries of Prague University after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. The collection was then abundantly complemented by purchases in the 20th century.

Early Printed Books

At present, there are about 160 000 volumes of early printed books, i.e. printed books published between 1501 and 1800, in the holdings of the National Library of the CR. The core of the holding consists of the printed books of the Library of Charles University (the so-called old Carolinum and new Carolinum libraries) and the Jesuit Klementinum College. Immediately after nationalisation of the library in 1777, this base was enriched by many printed books from monasterial libraries abolished during the reforms of Joseph II.

The basis for the classification of these holdings was and still remains to be the system of ordering by subject, books are divided into 54 sections by subject (the shelf mark of each section begins with the section number). A special part is formed by the so-called Biblioteca nationalis, which is “the golden collection” of all NL holdings. It includes the sections 45-54, namely the sections 45-53 contain foreign-language Bohemica, while the section 54 contains early printed books in the Czech language. These sections were continually complemented during the whole 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, therefore only a part of them is formed by early printed books. The printed books from other sections (sections 1-38) contain principally foreign-language non-bohemical literature interesting in terms of the content and typographically and in some respects also in terms of its origin. There are to be found there the library wholes, bequeathed to the Klementinum Jesuit College (e.g. the family library of the Pernsteins, the personal library of Oldřich Desiderius Pruskovský of Pruskov, or the capitular of the Vyšehrad Chapter Pavel Pistorius of Lucko) as well as smaller or greater parts of library wholes (e.g. the family library of the Sternbergs, the personal library of Václav Budovec z Budova, Jan Zajíc of Hasenburg, Václav Vřesovec of Vřesovice, Tycho Brahe and others). Of special importance is the library of the counts Kinsky, the so-called Kinskyana, donated to the NL by the instigator of the nationalisation of university and Jesuit collections Franz Joseph Count Kinsky. This library uses its original shelf marks and contains the family library of the counts Kinsky (Bibliotheca Kinskyana maior), the personal library of Count Franz Joseph (Bibliotheca Kinskyana minor) and his personal library of military literature (Bibliotheca militaris).

In the course of the library’s existence, the system of division was augmented by other sections. The most important wholes among them are the shelf mark 65 - Prague Lobkowicz Library (purchased in 1928), the shelf mark 72 - The Collection of Magical Literature of Kamill Resler, and the shelf mark 75 - the library of Bernard Bolzano. In the period of the communist regime, the NL administered many nationalised library holdings, most of which were returned to their original owners after 1989.


Quite independent is a large collection (526 pieces) of graphic single-sheets of university dispute theses from the Baroque period (1637-1754). Under the influence of the Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy soon prevailed highly representative form of large prints, printed on paper or silk, which were posted on public areas or sent influential persons. All of these prints are richly decorated with engravings by the original proposals many outstanding contemporary artists, such as Karel Škréta, or reproductions of works by renowned Italian, French or Flemish painters, like Peter Paul Rubens and others. More comprehensive collection of these sheets is only in Augsburg, in other European libraries, museums and archives found only rare specimens.


This part of collections includes maps published until 1800, with occasional overlaps into the 19th century. The most important part is Lobkowicz collection, stored in the department 62, comprising mainly general geographic and topographical maps of continents, countries, regions, city maps, postal and military maps

All parts of collections are step-by-step digitised and made accessible in STT (via Google Books) or Manuscriptorium digital library.

Mode of cataloguing

All records which are now in the HPB database are created by book-in-hand cataloguing. Titles in non-latin script are transliterated according to national transliteration scheme. Up to May 2015 the records were created according to AACR2 and now we go by RDA rules.

This will see the introduction of two new fields: 336 and 337.

Field 264 will be used instead of field 260 Instead of [S.l.] we use [Místo vydání není známé] Instead of [s.n.] we use [Nakladatel není známý]

And in field 300 we will no longer use shortcuts or []: s. = strany [34] s. = 34 nečíslovaných stran obr. příl. = obrazové přílohy [5] obr. příl. = 5 nečíslovaných obrazových příloh False pagination we record as 345 stran, to je, 354 stran

Finally, when RDA is used, field 655 – index term for genre and form - will be present in all new records.

Present/Absent fields

The shorter records made in so called recataloguing mode includes elemental bibliographical statements. Titles are transliterate without any abreviation. Records includes all data from title page. Subject indexing, provenance and other copy specifications are not indicated. Full records include all bibliographical statements, copy specifications (provenance, binding, fingerprint, …) and elementary subject indexing. Records of digitised book include a field with link to digital library - Google books, Manuscriptorium or PDF file (EOD projekt). The name authority is done consistently on all records.

Treatment of multivolume works

Multivolume work are cataloguing in one level, which describing each volume for itself.

Recommendations for searching

The best way of searching the file is by author and/or title. The search with publisher, place of publication and publication year, such as language is provided.

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 resources/hpb/content/national_library_of_the_czech_republic_prague.txt · Last modified: 2015/11/30 14:58 by lefferts



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