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Editorial 2020/1

Dear Friends,

We bring you the summer issue of the Knihovna: knihovnická revue. Contributions in the reviewed part (both are from the pen of colleagues from the Department of the Protection of Library Holdings of the National library of the Czech Republic) are concerned about the care of library collections with the object of their preventive protection and use of non-destructive research techniques for the examination of the actual volumes. The topic of the first article is the measurement of long-term climatic conditions in book depositories of the National Library of the Czech Republic (measurement of the physical parameters of the air such as the temperature, relative humidity and light as well as chemical parameters – concentration of external and internal air pollutants). Special attention is paid to the air quality in the so-called Baroque Hall in the Klementinum building which is the only one among the depositories used for storing historical book collections while, at the same time, being part of the tourist route and thus open to the public which naturally impairs its air quality.

The second paper deals with the research of information hidden in books and bookbindings. This information is obtained using non-destructive techniques (in this case without the interference with the upper structure of the volume) one of which is X-rays or radiography. Historical holdings include certain types of recycled materials in their bookbindings (for example a cut up manuscript parchment folio, etc.). Not only can these materials be older then the book itself but can often be of a value in themselves. At the same time this research can reveal hidden damage and select the most appropriate restoration procedures.

Polish colleagues have sent us their research report on Polish popular scientific magazines and their development since the establishment of this type of a periodical in Poland in the mid.eighteenth century until 1939. The role of popular scientific magazines was (as it is today) to inform readers about scientific progress, research, discoveries, etc. This contribution, which is a report on a research project funded by the Polish National Science Centre, brings information about various phases of this research and presents results obtained so far.

The author from the Theatre Department of the National Museum presents the results of an interesting theatrological research of documents, hitherto little-noticed in libraries, theatrical playbills. Theatrical playbills – unlike theatrical posters –  give information not only about the production as such but about individual performances and thus provide a valuable historical source. There are numerous collections of playbills in Czech institutions and they deserve a greater degree of accessibility for study and research purposes via such up to date means of accsss as online databases. The result of the Road to the Theatre project, in which participated, apart from the Theatre Department of the National Museum, also the Arts and Theatre Institute and the Moravian Museum, is a database of theatre playbills, a map of their locations in the Czech Republic, a  methodology of their processing and a travelling exhibition. Several theatre playbills can be found in the holdings of the National library of the Czech Republic. The text of the article is accompanied by many photographs of the playbills as well as other relevant illustrations.

The contents of our journal has not stayed untouched by the coronavirus. Our colleague Zdenko Vozár (the technical department support of applications of the National Library of the Czech Republic) is presenting an article dealing with the access to digital libraries by students and researchers during the period of coronavirus lockdown in the Czech Republic (March – May 2020). During the lockdown, with its resulting physical unavailability of copyrighted works, a remote access was secured to digitized documents of the National Library of the Czech Republic and several other large libraries, under pre-agreed conditions, to prevent the misuse of access to works protected by the copyright law. This was achieved thanks to successful negotiations with the agency Dilia (the collective administrator of the copyright) and the helpfulness and understanding of Dilia's management. How this measure helped our users in these difficult times is evidenced by the huge increase of the use of the database Kramerius, that makes the digitized works available. Let this be an encouragement to us for further work. The message of this article is clear – the author urges us to think about the stagnation of public services and the function of digital libraries and repositories. This too, could be, and should be, the way of supporting culture and education.

A Slovaque colleague has sent us an interesting article about the work of Czechs and Moravians in the University Library in Bratislava in the period 1919 – 1939. The article starts with the origin, location and functioning of the library and then brings interesting facts of local activities and lives of the people who are significantly connected with the development of Czech librarianship. We remembered some of them last year in connection with the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the first Library Act (1919). The names of two leading Czech librarians, Dr. Jan Emler and Dr. Josef Schützer, are indelibly written into the history of this remarkable Slovak institution. The article is devoted to not only the two above mentioned directors, but also to other employees from the Czech Lands working in this library in the 1920s and 30s when the proportion of Czech and Moravian librarians in this institution was 50 – 60%. The article is based on the author's research and careful study of contemporary materials.

Our dear collaborator, colleague and author of professional articles and research prof. Jiří Trávníček celebrated an important anniversary at the beginning of this year (in February). We publish a greeting from the pen of prof. Grzegorze Niece from the University of Krakow. We wish prof. Trávntíček a good health, healthy optimism and zeal as well as lots of energy for further work.

The Review informs about the publication of Kamil Boldan's The Beginnings of Czech book printing. This publication is intended for both the lay and professional public and describes Czech book printing and its history, important works, etc. and is reviewed by our colleague Renáta Modráková.

The regular section – Tips from the Library of Library Literature – features nine interesting titles from the collection of the Library Literature Library of the National Library of the Czech Republic.

The journal gets into your hands in June; we have passed the endurance test in the form of the coronavirus pandemic and I think that we have proven that libraries are not afraid of anything and will get over lots of things – the introduction of steam power, electrification, computerization, robotization, even coronavirus. They were, are, and will always be here for their users.

Please do not forget the deadlines...

On behalf of the editorial board I wish you a good reading

Renáta Salátová

Dec 19, 2020