The collection of the Library of the Jewish Historical Institute currently includes over 80,000 volumes. It is Poland’s largest collection of books devoted to the broadly understood Jewish subject. The constantly supplemented and expanded collection of the JHI Library, in addition to numerous, often unique, books and magazines also includes priceless manuscripts and old prints.
Particularly noteworthy is the rich collection of magazines – both historical and contemporary ones. Its most valuable objects include the "Dostrzegacz Nadwiślański" [The Vistula Observer] – the first Jewish magazine published in Poland.
The collection of the library includes about 2,200 titles published in the languages of the Latin alphabet; apart from Polish publications – of course including the full collection of the “Kwartalnik Historii Żydów” [Jewish History Quarterly] published by the Institute (formerly: “Biuletyn ŻIH” [JHI Bulletin]) – there is also a large set of specialist English and German-language press. The library also has about 1,350 Hebrew and Yiddish periodicals, such as unique Jewish magazines published in Poland in the interwar period, which often survived the war in a very small number of copies. It is one of the largest collections of this type in the world.
The library's collection includes both contemporary books and numerous pre-war or 19th-century editions, which survived the war. Extremely valuable objects of bibliophilic value have been gathered in the special collections section (cimelia).Literature devoted to the Holocaust and the history of Jews in Poland is particularly rich in the collections of the Library. The collection also includes multiple editions of works by classics of Jewish literature, as well as translations into Hebrew and Yiddish of the canon of Polish and world literature. Religious literature is also represented in great numbers: sacred texts, prayer books, commentaries, etc. Children's book collections are also worth interest, including illustrated pre-war editions in Yiddish.
Particularly noteworthy is the collection of anti-Semitic publications (books and magazines), including a rich collection of German publications from the National Socialist period: an important document of the era and a valuable source for historical research.
The library has over a thousand old prints. First of all, there are many – often very valuable – Jewish old prints of a religious nature, e.g. first Hebrew prints published in Warsaw. The Library's collection also includes a set of over 200 volumes of Amsterdam's old prints from the 17th and 18th centuries. From the second half of the 17th century, Amsterdam – then famous for its liberal publishing policy – began to function as the world center of Jewish printing. Many texts were published there that would have had no chance of being published anywhere else – including, for example, messianic works by Polish Jews.
Among old prints, there are often damaged documents, preserved only in fragments. The collection of old prints of the JHI Library, thanks to comparative research, searches and efforts to identify, gradually expands to include new, frequently very valuable objects.
The list of manuscripts in the Library's collections also includes over 1,000 items. This collection contains priceless source materials from various periods and of various kinds. Among them there are multiple documents of a religious nature, such as the 18th-century handwritten commentary on the famous philosophical Book of Kuzari by rabbi Yehuda Halewi, written by Moses Mendelsohn.The Library's collections are constantly supplemented and enriched.
The book collection regularly grows with numerous Polish and foreign novelties, providing a kind of overview of the current publishing market devoted to Jewish topics.