Polish Underground Library at Libri Prohibiti
The Polish Underground Library was set up in 2009 in collaboration with the The Karta Center Foundation in Warsaw. It is comprised of Polish underground and exile publications, Polish flyers, posters, sound and visual recordings that are part of the Libri Prohibiti’s collections.
Senovážné nám. 2, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
Polish Underground Library in Prague
Provenance and cultural activities
Libri Prohibiti – the library of “prohibited books” – was opened in 1990. The foundation of Libri Prohibiti was created by Jiří Gruntorád, pre-1989 publisher and collector of samizdat literature and signatory to Charter 77, whom was twice imprisoned because of his samizdat activities. Gruntorád wanted to collect in one place exile and samizdat literature, to make them accessible to the public in order to help clarify recent Czechoslovak history. According to him, the library should serve as a “message about past times,” and show how the communist regime in Czechoslovakia functioned. Nowadays, the library’s entire collection consists of about 40 500 library units and more than 3 400 periodicals in the areas of literature, literary science, history, political science, philosophy, theology, sociology, culture and politics, the field of human rights, international relations and others.
The collections of Libri Prohibiti are comprised of, among other things, Polish documents from 1970–1989 (underground and exile publications, flyers, posters, sound and visual recordings). In 2009, these documents formed the Polish Underground Library in Prague which was created with the support of the Czech-Polish Forum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. The aim of the Polish Underground Library was to make accessible and to complete these unique Polish materials from the collections of Libri Prohibiti as these documents represent the history of Polish underground activities of the last twenty years of the communist regime and mutual Polish-Czech contacts in this period. The establishment of the Polish Underground Library was possible partly thanks to the collecting activities of the Libri Prohibiti and partly thanks to a gift from the Karta Center Foundation in Warsaw.
Libri Prohibiti not only makes books and magazines accessible to the public, but it also organises various activities such as exhibitions (focusing on exile and samizdat visual artists, photographers and other topics) or literary evenings (dedicated mostly to samizdat and exile authors). The library also hosts an annual award ceremony by the PANT Civic Society which gives the Jaromír Šavrda Prize for Testimonial about Totality.
Libri Prohibiti has also participated in the creation of many publications, films (mainly documentaries) and exhibitions; it cooperates with radio stations, theaters, and several websites.
Description of content
The Polish Underground Library contains Polish underground and exile publications, Polish flyers, posters, sound and visual recordings from 1970–1989 that are part of the Libri Prohibiti’s collection. Thus, this collection portrays the history of the Polish underground activities of the 1970s and 1980s.
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): unknown quantity
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Štogrová, Jarmila, Dorota Müllerová, and Zita Chalupová, eds. 2010. Česko-polská literatura v samizdatu a druhém oběhu: studie a rozhovory s překladateli. Praha: Libri prohibiti.
Author(s) of this page
- Kůželová, Michaela
Gruntorád, Jiří. 2002. “Libri prohibiti – poučné ohlédnutí za neradostnou minulostí.“ Dějiny a současnost 24, No. 5: 41–43.
Český rozhlas. 2014. “Libri prohibiti.” Last modified October 8. http://www.rozhlas.cz/vltava/dokument/_zprava/libri-prohibiti--1058103.
Libri Prohibiti. 2017. “Annual Report 2016.” Accessed May 15. http://www.libpro.cz/docs/2823-lp-vyrocni-zprava-2016-en-web-v02_1499883831.pdf.
Gruntorád, Jiří. 2014. “Vznik knihovny Libri prohibiti.” Last modified December 5. http://www.moderni-dejiny.cz/clanek/jiri-gruntorad-vznik-knihovny-libri-prohibiti/.
Libri Prohibiti. 2017. Accessed February 24. http://www.libpro.cz/.
Gruntorád, Jiří , interview by Kůželová, Michaela, February 01, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection