Poznan Anarchist Library Archive
Poznań Pułaskiego 21A, Poland 60-607
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Name of collection
- Poznań Anarchist Library Archive
Provenance and cultural activities
Poznan Anarchist Library was founded in 1997 in the Rozbrat squat in Poznan. Library was composed of private collections of books and magazines, donated by people engaged in cultural and political activities of the anarchist movement. First few years the Library functioned solely thanks to the enthusiasm of its creators which proved to have some flaws: when spontaneous engagement was little, there was no stable structure enabling everyday functioning of the institution. The problems like a lack of funds for purchasing books, folders, binders, etc., small and unadjusted spaces, as well as voluntary type of work, almost caused a collapse of this initiative (what was typical for other libertarian libraries - shut down along with their creators' burnout).
For the Poznan Anarchist Library a big change came in the early 2000s with moving its location to one of the post-industrial halls at the area of Rozbrat. A bigger room, which has been hosting library ever since, guaranteed a minimum working conditions for the staff. Collection was professionally described, divided and arranged on the bookshelves. By that time the archive has already contained: several hundreds of anarchist magazines (mainly from Poland and Western Europe), over a dozen of folders with brochures, leaflets and posters, a couple of hundreds of books and unpublished scientific monographs, thousands of press clippings about the anarchistic initiatives. Separately, the library held a collection of materials regarding the German autonomous movement, Polish and foreign socialist movements, ecological movement, various other social movements, and finally: Polish opposition under socialism (altogether tens of folders, magazines, brochures, posters, clippings, and other documents).
Moreover, besides giving the possibility to borrow books, the Library also ran a record library (fonoteka) with over 200 CDs. With time, the initial division between an archive of anarchist movement and a library disappeared. The general rule was introduced which stated that the books and materials may only be used on the spot. Between 1997-1998 the Poznan Anarchist Library also ran its owns chronicle, where all the important information on anarchistic environment and alternative culture in Poznan was recorded.
At the beginning the archive was supposed to be used for documenting contemporary activity of the anarchistic movement and the Rozbrat squat. The documentation might have come useful in a case of lawsuits or attempts of evicting the squat (occupying a vast, attractive ground on the outskirts of Poznan’s city centre). In case of such problems, the squatters could defend themselves, proving the scope and social significance of their initiatives. However, with time, the more important issue became the need for raising self-consciousness of the movement. They gathered not only contemporary books, magazines, leaflets and documents, but also the materials created before the squat’s establishing. Poznan Anarchist Library was more and more often enriched with books and magazines from the second and third circuits of the 1980s. Simultaneously, the institution gathered texts on Marxism, socialism and history of workers’ movements – which were gradually disposed by the public libraries. Publications like that (after the transformation seen as pure propaganda and removed from the shelves) were a valuable source of knowledge – perceived as ideological, yet reach with information on the history of class clashes and Marxist theory. In the broader perspective, activities of the Poznan Anarchist Library may be seen as an reaction to the drastically decreasing number of public libraries - which were being closed down.
The biggest popularity of the Library came in the early 2000s when the alter-globalisation protests prompted researchers, students and journalist to get interested in the new wave of social dissent. In 2003 the first issue of the “Bulletin of the Poznan Library Archive” („Biuletynu Poznańskiej Biblioteki Anarchistycznej”) was published, initially edited by Katarzyna Jankowska, Damian Kaczmarek, Katarzyna Roszak i Maciej Hojak, later by: Jankowska, Kaczmarek i Hojak. The first “Bulletin” summed up the six years of library’s activities. Until 2007 four more issues were published and then it evolved into the “Anarchistic Review” („Przegląd Anarchistyczny”) – a regular magazine on politics and culture (the last one came in 2011). Earlier, the Publishing House of Poznan Anarchist Library published a few reprints of the books and brochures about the anarchism from the time of Polish People’s Republic. Nowadays the library is mostly run by Maciej Hojak, a librarian with the biggest experience and one of the most famous anarchistic activists in Poznan. There are no stable opening hours and to use the archives one has to schedule a meeting. The library is still growing and, in result, the contemporary space is becoming too small. The collective’s dream is to create an institution resembling the Western anarchist libraries, with convenient access for researchers and readers.
Poznan Anarchist Library was preceded by the Social Reading Room of State and Émigré Publications, which functioned along with Sieroca Gallery in Poznan. The place was founded by people connected to the Freedom and Peace (Wolność i Pokój) movement, literary and artistic underground, and ecological and anti-military activity. Its premises on the Sierocka street (earlier occupied by the army), after the transformation was offered to Freedom and Peace movement and the Objector association. Besides a library and a reading room, the place offered an opportunity for meetings of alternative youth subcultures, discussions, exhibitions, literary and theatre performances. The Reading Room lasted just a year – an attractive address made it a good business opportunity and the area was soon privatised. It should be noted that the Reading Room was co-organised by the authors of a literary zine “Woskowka” – Independent Creators Group “Imperatyw”, which Hojak was a member of. However, when “Imperatyw” started to be closer to the official literary discourse, Hojak got more interested in the underground production. Along with a group of a few people, Hojak published (in circa 120-130 copies) and artzine “Szelest”, which was photocopied, and partially manually created (painted and glued). “Szelest” combined neo-Dadaist, small graphics and literary pieces with some political content – of more and more anarchistic nature. Publishing activity was accompanied by numerous music and cabaret performances (e.g. cabaret Żenada). In 1994, based on Żenada the publishing house of Oficyna Wydawnicza Bractwa Trojka was founded, and since the beginning it was related to Rozbrat and the anarchistic movement. Thus, establishing the Poznan Anarchist Library in 1997 was preceded by several years of literary, publishing and archival activities of Poznan’s anarchists.
Founders of the Poznan Anarchist Library during state socialism were associated with either the anti-military and ecological movement of Freedom and Peace, or with the alternative culture environment which produced artzines and fanzines. Thus, their background lies in the third circuit – even if they had some contact with the “Solidarity’s” opposition - like Hojak who disseminated the second-circuit “Agency News Review” (“Przegląd Wiadomości Agencyjnych”). As teenagers they had little chance to engage in activities of the “Solidarity” trade union or the “adult” opposition surrounding it. Their attitudes were definitely anti-communist, however they put much pressure on the issues of personal freedom, autonomy, self-governess, ecology or alternative energy – what differentiated them from the conservative-national convictions of the second circuit. They contested the regime of the Polish People’s Republic through cultural activity, inspired by Dadaism and surrealism, far from political explicitness.
Description of content
Most of the items in the Poznan Anarchist Library come from the 1990s and document the anarchistic, antifascist and ecological activities of that time. However, there is also an extensive compilation of older documents, mainly brochures, posters and magazines published by the anarchist movement in Poland in the 1980s – from the oldest issues like Tricity’s “Gilotyna” (founded in 1980) and “Homek” (since 1983), to the first copies of “Mać Pariadki”, published at the end of the 1980s. Many brochures and papers are connected to the antimilitary, pacifist, and ecological initiatives of the Freedom and Peace movement (and since the early 1990s also the Objector association and the Agreement for Alternative Energy). Big part of the documents concerns the protests against building a nuclear power plant in Żarnowiec, intensified from 1988. The Archive also contains many publications created by the political opposition of the “Solidarity”, its radical fraction the Fighting Solidarity, and socialist and workers’ groups, like the Polish Socialist Party-Democratic Revolution and the Workers' Self-Government Group. Finally, the archive contains books published within the underground second circuit, as well as music and literary zines, posters and badges of the third circuit, including various materials connected to the Orange Alternative.
Poznan Anarchist Library systematically gathers literature regarding the Marxist theory, socialist and workers’ movement – officially published in the Polish People’s Republic and regularly thrown away from the libraries in post-transformation Poland. Those books, “negatively seen” in the new regime, are useful for the anarchists as a valuable source of historical knowledge. Along with the its development, the library was able to gain some unique anarchist and socialist publications from the pre-war period (such as the texts of Edward Abramowski, one of the informal patrons of the institution). As a result, the library owns probably the richest collection of materials on the history of anarchist movement in the 20th century. Archival publications gathered in the library serve as a basis for reprints published by the publishing house of Oficyna Wydawnicza Bractwa Trojka.
- graphics: 500-999
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 100-499
- music recordings: 100-499
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Poznań Pułaskiego 21A, Poland
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Stanczyk, Xawery
„Biuletyn Poznańskiej Biblioteki Anarchistycznej”, no 1-5, 2003-2007.
Jarosław Urbański, „Odzyskać miasto. Samowolne osadnictwo, skłoting, anarchitektura”, Wydawnictwo Poznańskiej Biblioteki Anarchistycznej, Oficyna Wydawnicza Bractwa Trojka, Poznan 2005.
Hojak, Maciej, interview by Stanczyk, Xawery, August 30, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection