Henryk Hollender: “A Town of Books. A popular guidebook to Cieszyn’s library and archive collections”
Author’s presentation of the guidebook and scenarios for lessons – photo story

The final series of events “Cieszyn – A Town of Books” was closed by the presentation of the guidebook with the same title related to Cieszyn’s library and archive collections, by Henryk Hollender, director of the Warsaw University Library for many years, cooperating with Cieszyn’s libraries for almost twenty years.

The guidebook, which is one of the basic instruments launched as a part of the project “Cieszyn Archives and Historical Libraries Trail” was structured in a clearly different way than all earlier works devoted to Cieszyn’s collections. The assets and history of local libraries were presented in a way that was free of the heavy and solemn form of an academic compendium. The form, assets and fortunes of historical manuscripts, old prints or library and archive collections gathered centuries ago were presented instead in a close relation to the history of the town and everyday life of its inhabitants at that time. The guidebook is easy to use thanks to its structure based on three narrative layers. The first one is made by several chapters of the essential, theme-arranged text of the guidebook, the second one includes text capsules with interesting facts and the third one incorporates illustrations with extensive comments. Beside the compact presentation of the literary culture of Cieszyn Silesia and description of the assets and currently available resources of individual libraries and archives, the guidebook also contains selection of literature on those collections and an information guide about the offer of libraries and archives in Cieszyn.

The form and content of the publication have been adapted to the needs and cognitive capabilities of various target groups, starting from professionals seeking concise information on Cieszyn’s collections, through teachers and students who wish to get categorized information on various aspects of the history of books based on such collections, to tourists visiting Cieszyn and interested in the possibility to obtain interesting facts about the history, assets and importance of the local library and archive collections. Readers of the guidebook can easily learn that Cieszyn’s libraries and archives are not only “ivory towers” but also places where almost everybody can search for new sources on his or her civilizational and cultural identity, obtaining also a chance for direct contact with the beauty and secrets of old books.

The guidebook, which obtained an effective graphic design based on the layout of Kazimierz Gajdzica, was published in print in two language versions, Polish and English. Both versions are also available as PDF files in the Silesian Digital Library.