40. évfolyam, 1994. 4. szám


Current issues in library policy in Hungary

PAPP István

The article is an overview of the state of Hungarian librarianship after the transition. Hungarian librarianship has more or less followed European trends with some delay. Typical socialist mistakes occur: virtual solutions, wasting of money, efforts, centralization, low effectiveness. The national library moving to a new building was a great event, though libraries expect more of the national library so far as central services are concerned. There is need far the development and computerization of central services. Higher education libraries are of varying standards, though they are automated more rapidly than other types of libraries. They deserve special attention in development projects, and should be looked upon as possible nodes when the sectorial and regional networks of national library provision are built out. An organic relationship must be established between major university libraries and public libraries (shared cataloguing, resource sharing). The state of special libraries is not even either. Local special libraries used to belong to the state. Today they survive only if their mother institution considers them necessary, if it does not, they are closed down. The government can only create the possibility for joining the national library system. Public libraries have developed more dynamically in the countryside than in Budapest. Libraries of smaller settlements were threatened severely after the transition, since local governments have become responsible for their maintenance. The existence of public libraries maintained by trade unions at workplaces has been questioned, they are likely to be integrated with public libraries. School libraries also show uneven development depending primarily upon the approach of the director and teacher community of the school. A bifunctional - school and public library may be an option for small settlements. The precious collections of ecclesiastic libraries are considered a part of the national culture and heritage. The trend must be reinforced in library policy that the basic issues of librarianship and information policy must be dealt with at the government level. The state must aid libraries with targeted financial help bound to conditions. A national library fund must be established for this end. So far as information provision is concerned, sectorial (disciplinary) and regional approaches should prevail. The new library act may help systematic work, however, no great expectations should be nourished. The training of librarians has been modernized from the curriculum point of view, but the place of the training of library assistants should be clarified. Graduate training is possible only in the frames of the school system. It should be made clear if users had to pay for library and information services. No doubt, the full-scale marketing of services runs counter to national interests, but it is acceptable that users contribute to services occasionally. The operation of libraries should be under social control, and a body has to be appointed to this task. The Library and Information Chamber with 130 member libraries, and the Association of Hungarian Librarians with 2300 individual and 30 corporate members will continue to play an important role in the future, too. (pp. 536-546)

Országos Széchényi Könyvtár