Barbara Budyńska Libraries in Poland as of 2012.


According to the binding act, libraries may be established and maintained by: the ministers and heads of the central government offices; local government units; and individuals, legal entities and unincorporated organizational units. Libraries may be organised as independent organisational units (e.g. public libraries),2 or may be part of another organisational unit (e.g. school libraries, libraries of institutions of higher education).

A library’s organisers are obligated to provide them with suitable conditions for their operations and growth, including the premises and equipment as well as the financial resources for conducting the library’s operations, specifically for purchasing library materials and for the professional development of their staff.

The burden of financing libraries rests primarily on local governments, appropriate government departments and other entities. The State can support library operations through restricted subsidies.

Libraries can be categorised into groups based on various criteria, such as: the nature and needs of the environment in which they operate; thematic and formal scope of their collections; territorial coverage; formal and legal basis of library operations; sources of financing; and the approach to collection usage. Library categorisation based on the above criteria is not exclusive.

According to a hybrid criterion – based on the customers of library services and collection profiles – libraries can be categorised into: public libraries – 8,182; school libraries – 20,363;3 scientific libraries – 1,087; pedagogical libraries – 318; specialised libraries – 369; fiction/specialised libraries – 65; libraries of scientific, technical and economic information (“inte”) centres – 28; libraries of scientific societies – 14; military-educational libraries – 118, prison libraries – 157, parish libraries – 1,480.

The material as a whole concerns 32,18144 libraries in Poland. The table below includes only those libraries that can be presented by province.

Libraries in Poland have a huge institutional potential. Like in other countries, they do not form a single network. The act on libraries provides an opportunity to become a part of the national library network. Currently, it consists of all public libraries and the other libraries that have joined it.5 Other legal acts regulate the operations of specific library types. As a result, their industry-specific nature is emphasised and distinct operational guidelines are defined for them.

2 According to the act, public libraries should be organised in the form of a cultural institution, i.e. should have a legal personality and be financially independent or should be part of another cultural institution.

3 This concerns the number of libraries in: schools for children and youths; schools for adults; and arts schools based on the data from the Educational Information System, as of 30 September 2012, provided by the Department of Forecasts and Analysis of the Ministry of National Education.

4 13 public libraries and 1 pedagogical library with a scientific status were included both in the public or pedagogical and scientific library networks.

5 On 11 April 2014, there were 18 such libraries. Source: Book Science Documentation Institute of the National Library.