200 years of the National Széchényi Library

Count Ferenc Széchényi donated his abundant collection of books, maps, engravings, coins, and minerals to the nation 200 years ago, in 1802, creating thus a national public collection (library and museum). The bicentenary of the foundation was celebrated with a series of events by the National Széchényi Library and the Hungarian National Museum throughout the year. The memorial year gave an opportunity not only for Hungarian commemorations and international conferences, but also for the publication of valuable volumes.

Ferenc Széchényi, the founder of the national library

MONOK István

In Hungary Count Ferenc Széchényi (1754–1820) was the nobleman who detected Hungarian books in Hungary and abroad at the end of the 18th century, united them in a collection, and then in 1802 donated it to the nation, laying the foundations of the first national public collection. The study aims at finding out how much the foundation of the library was a natural consequence of the political and cultural efforts of the preceding three centuries. It presents the traditions of library history and science organisation that had an impact on the foundation, and that the creation of the national library was the result of a long process. There had been libraries used by the public before in Hungary, and by the 18th and 19th century book collection had become more and more important among the aristocracy and the prelacy, and bibliophilic book collectors urged the formation of a scientific society. Hungarian aristocrats assumed a role in the running of cultural institutions under the pressure created by the lack of the national king, national culture, and national library. King Mathias has become a symbolic figure in the eyes of Hungarian aristocrats and intellectuals as a successful national king, together with his library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana. Thus Széchényi, having in mind the role and significance of Bibliotheca Corviniana, founded the national library of the Hungarian Kingdom (Bibliotheca Regicolaris) as it also stands in the statutory document. This ideal helped the further enrichment and survival of the collection as well.

The international control and processing of serials – international trends and the Hungarian environment
(The Hungarian practice of ISSN control and its international context)

GAZDAG Tiborné

Hungary has been taking part in the work of the international serial control system of ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) since its foundation in 1976. By now, periodicals have gone through essential changes of format (with the appearance of the electronic version of publications), and the standards of their processing had to be reconsidered. Special forms of publication on the Internet make it impossible to distinguish between the parts, issues characteristic of serials, and to recognise their numbering. A new model of document typology had to be elaborated (J. Hirons, C. Graham, R. Reynolds) that is based on the method of the publication of the serial, and imposes a superordinate category above the notion of serial, that of the continuing resource, in which integrative, constantly updated documents belong beside serials. An information source belonging to any category may appear on any media. Parallel with the development of the model, the revision of the part of AACR2 dealing with serials, as well as of the ISBD(S) and of the ISDS Manual, the manual of the registry system of ISSN, was also started. ISBD(CR), valid for any continuing resource has come into being, and the Hungarian regulation (KSZ3) dealing with serials only was also prepared. The rules of bibliographic description change, so do the computer applications, and the standard exchange formats (MARC 21) are improved. When the registration of distant information sources started, the scope of the application of international standard numbers had to be revised. The International Centre of ISSN would like to achieve the complete control of serial publications, while in the case of integrating documents, it prefers the principle of selectivity. However, the practice of national institutions, the peculiarities of collection development may have an impact upon the realization of the principles of control. The practice of the Hungarian national library, its criteria taken into account when assigning a standard number is an example of this.

Hungarian selection. The praise of mature bibliographies


False data have been published in various sources regarding the reception of the Hungarian Imre Kertész’s novel entitled Sorstalanság that won the literary Nobel prise in 2002. The reason why false data were published may be the lack of knowledge of the bibliographic tools of literature.

The study presents the tools that can be used through a concrete example.

It focuses on older ventures, already finished, such as the bibliography of Hungarian literature (1966–1990) (A magyar irodalom és irodalomtudomány bibliográfiája) compiled by the National Széchényi Library, the bibliography of Hungarian literary theory (A magyar irodalomtudomány bibliográfiája (1977–1991) issued in the Hungarológiai Értesítő, the selected repertory of literary publications in Hungarian journals in 1981–1982 and its continuation: the selected repertory of literary publications in periodicals 1983–1989, the analytical catalogue of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library (Irodalomtörténeti tanulmánykötetek és folyóiratok analitikus bibliográfiai kartotékjai), that can be the bases of ventures like Imre Kertész’s bibliography in print or on the Internet among the bibliographies of the Digital Literary Academy (DIA) and the Contemporary Literary Database (KIA) since their reliability is influenced strongly by what sources they use. Further sources could be earlier bibliographic ventures, lexicons (the new Hungarian Literary Lexicon – Új Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon), literary histories, the list of criticism that appeared in the journal Látóhatár for years, databases belonging to the system of the national bibliography, and currently built databases from related disciplines covering periodical articles.

While comparing and characterising bibliographies, lexicons, databases, he does not hide his critical remarks either. The search, performed upon a reference question, illustrated well that current electronic processing would be required with the cooperation of institutions involved. Thus the burdens of processing could be shared, and researches could find the information needed by means of a unified system.

The assessment of information as an ecological process 1.


Information transfer is an essential part of communication that leads the user on to  recorded textual information. The study deals with the theoretical aspects of the effectiveness of information retrieval, and explains it by means of evaluating bibliographical  records. An evaluation matrix  can be formulated  as a result of the assessment of bibliographical records, taking the interaction of  users with their environment into account. Any unit  should  be considered as bibliographical if in the process of information retrieval followed by assessment the physically descriptive elements  of transfer are interpreted  as intellectual meaning. The nature of the bibliographical record is textual  as well as  intertextual. Index terms also have textuality, while intertextuality  means the relationship  between the various levels of the text, though the environmental (and background) knowledge  of the user-interpreter (also known as heuristics)  has to be considered as well. Textuality gives the essential contents of the bibliographical  record, but it has to meet formal criteria as well. Through  retrieval the user  does not access a  work  but its physical version  manifested in the form of a concrete text. Accordingly, anticipations  related to  the retrieval process must change. The user has epistemological  needs, and acquires interpretable  text units as the result of the retrieval process. The author analyses the relationship  between  form and  substance  as a prerequisite of the process of interpretation. Form is important because it makes possible  textual analysis  at the level of the bibliographical  record. The second part of the study  (to be published in the next issue) offers a detailed  analysis of the textual and  environmental  components of any record or unit which qualifies as bibliographical   and gives an evaluation of the process.

PAJOR Enikő: From Gesner to the virtual Bibliotheca Universalis

The most recent trends show that the speed of information processing doubles every 18 months, scientific communication takes place more and more on networks, written works are more and more frequently stored in digital form, knowledge is made publicly available as hypermedia, e–documents play an increasing role beside traditional books, etc. The library projects of the EU in recent years aimed at bringing closer the library systems of nations, at making the international utilization of bibliographic records possible, at reinforcing the development of multimedia services, at creating super national virtual libraries, and by all these at establishing effective national and international library services. The creation of the universal virtual library is a feasible aim today. One of the ideas is Bibliotheca Universalis, the modern rethinking of the 16th century plan of Gesner, that could not be realised at that time. This universal virtual library were based on international cooperation. The article describes the aims of the plan, the problems that arouse during the pilot projects and their implementation, and the achievements.

LYNCH, C.: Struggle for the definition of the future of books (Abstr.: Koltay Tibor)

The role of books in the digital world needs reconsideration after the emergence of the digital book. A lot of questions arise concerning the role of this new “type of document”. E.g. how can a digital book be used, lent, cited? Do our expectations regarding the constancy of documents change? What technology is required to be able to read them? What will be our relation to private and commercial digital libraries, digital bookstores, etc? Further problems dealt with in the study: the occurrence of new genres may be expected (e.g. for the combination of paper and network); is it enough of books are translated, converted to digital form; what do content services offer, what are consumers’ expectations, and what difficulties the global market has to face; how should legal issues be tackled, what kind of control is required, should there be censorship, how will book publishing change, how will practical e–book reading equipment look like, what aid is offered by standardization, does the users of an e–book own an object or availability; what will be the status of digital books in future libraries; how can the continuity of availability and the safeguarding of intellectual heritage be realised in the digital environment, etc.

DUDÁS Anikó: The Rastko project – the electronic library of Serbian culture

The electronic library of the Serbian cultural heritage with the intention to join the BalkansNet cultural society and the global digital library network. The Rastko project covers Serbicas to be found all over the world with a special conception. Beside the central collection in Belgrade that played an initiative and guiding role in the project, 11 regional collections have been established by the end of 2002 in and outside Yugoslavia by means of a virtual historical and cultural centre in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, and Albania. The project focuses on the elaboration of digital and Internet technology solutions for the presentation of multilingual collections, for the handling of various scripts, and for the digitisation of modern and ancient ecclesiastical Cyrillic works. The reviewer enumerates Hungarica pieces to be found in the collection, and outlines the concerns of potential readers in Hungary, including among others that of dissimilating Serbs.

SHIMMON, Ross: Can libraries contribute to bridge the digital gap? (Abstr.: Katsányi Sándor)

The author seeks the answer to the question if information and communication technology is able to help people handicapped in accessing information in catching up? The OECD had a study made on this problem, and official proposals were formulated for the overcoming of information handicaps by the Okinawa Charta of the Eights, and the Geneva meeting in the report of the DOT (Digital Opportunity Task) Force. IFLA reacted to this as the representative of librarianship offering its aid to the work of the DOT Force. There are proposals, the question is what are the chances of the less experienced library associations of developing countries for taking these opportunities.

MEDVEDEV, Roj: What did Stalin read? (Abstr.: Futala Tibor)

The distinguished historian deals with the analysis of the library, readings, and side notes of the Russian dictator. He emphasizes the exceptional reading and working capacity of Stalin, his knowledge (debated by some contemporaries), and presents the readings of Stalin before the revolution, in exile, and later his book collections, and readings from the 30s, 40s, 50s. Stalin read mainly political and philosophical works, but his reading of Russian and foreign literature is also known. He had a rich collection of handbooks of general interest in his study at the Kremlin, and had private libraries of several thousand volumes in his summer houses as well. On the basis of his books, it was found that Stalin collected the works of his political enemies consciously, and knew them well. He spent 2–3 hours with reading a couple of hundreds of pages every day. He also wrote concise side notes to his readings.

RUPPELT Georg:„Shipwreck” of the Library Innovation Centre. (Abstr.: Katsányi Sándor)

Two hundred years of the National Széchényi Library

SOMKUTI Gabriella: The history of the National Széchényi 1802–1918. (Rev.: Pogány György)

A late review

UNGVÁRY Rudolf – ORBÁN Éva: Osztályozás és információkeresés. Szöveggyűjtemény

(Classification and information retrieval. An annotated chrestomathy)

(Rev.: Horváth Tibor)

Be you too or what the hell is the information society?

SEBESTYÉN György: Légy az információs társadalom polgára! (Be a citizen of the information society!)

(Rev.: Mohor Jenő)

Kategória: 2002. 4. szám | A közvetlen link.