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From one room to the Internet — The Central Jewish Library

By dr Agnieszka Haska

Exactly 155 years ago, on the 7th of May 1860, during a meeting of the Synagogue’s Committee on Daniłowiczowska Street, dr Ludwik Natanson put forward the motion to establish a library containing books relating to Judaism. The motion was carried; in the early days the library was limited to one room and later grew to over 2500 volumes in two rooms. On the 17th of February 1880 a reading room was opened, accessible twice a week from 5 to 8 p.m. The flood of books and readers led the Committee to start considering a separate building for the library. In 1903 the square to the right of the Synagogue was dedicated to this purpose but further development was halted due to financial and organizational issues and then the start of the First World War. By 1924, when prof Mojżesz Schorr begins a campaign in support of a new building, the library consists of over 30 thousand volumes. Three years later the Committee for the Construction of the Main Judaic Library by the Great Synagogue is established and begins collecting money and announces an architectural design contest for the building which is meant to include storage space for 100 thousand volumes, a reading room, a study room, a lecture hall and a museum hall. Edward Eber wins the contest and construction according to his design begins on the 8th of May 1928.

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