41. évfolyam, 1995. 1. szám



Vicissitudes of the one-hundred-year-old Fraknói Library of the Hungarian Academy of Rome

TULOK Magdolna

The foundations of the library of the Hungarian institute working in Rome were laid by Vilmos Fraknói 100 years ago with 4-5000 volumes from his library containing precious rare books as well. The organisation and listing of the collection of the institute was started in 1914, though it could not work for a long time, due to World War I. It was first in 1924 that students were received on scholarships. The institute moved to its present headquarters in 1928, and it was then that its name was changed to Hungarian Academy in Rome. The collection of the library consists basically of books in the humanities. The conception of Fraknói could not be carried on after World War Two in the traditional manner since more and more strict orders came from Budapest, the number of political publications increased, and moreover, some members of the staff were persecuted. The administration of the institute was moved from the Cultural Ministry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1950. Until 1959 the Academy worked as a unit of the Hungarian Embassy in Rome. The items (incunabula, ancient and rare books) of the collection considered “endangered" were sent back to Budapest. They got partly to the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, partly to the National Library Centre. However, some of these rarities got lost. Later the library got under the auspices of the Institute of Cultural Relations, and after it has been closed down, it got back to the Cultural Ministry. It was a problem that the collection had not been processed professionally, there was no collection profile defined, it had not been lead by professional librarians, acquisitions had been haphazard, etc. When the National Széchényi Library was asked to supervise the libraries of Hungarian institutes abroad, promising professional work started. During all these years a minor part of the books kept in chests during the reconstruction of the building got wet, and the precious collection part stored downstairs has also been seriously damaged. The aim is to restore the one-time state of the Fraknói Library though the complete recovery of the old library is impossible. The article stands for the preservation of our spiritual heritage. (pp. 67-73)

Országos Széchényi Könyvtár