Since our last meeting in 1990 the best qualified and most professional people dealing with cartographic collections have become heads of cartographic collections of university libraries, network of libraries of Polish Academy of Sciences, scientific societies and central state institutions.
Since 1989 considerable changes have taken place due to the introduction of a free market economy and a new political and social system. Because of this fact libraries and information centres will play a new part in Polish society and have to be prepared to carry out new functions. New categories of users become clients. Certainly the role of cartographic collections is undergoing changes too. SINTO (Scientific-Technical Information System and Organization) and CJNTE (Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information), which were established in the 1970s, ceased to exist. Scientific libraries will operate according to new rules based on regional co-operation and specialization. What matters greatly in terms of cartography is a new administrative division of the country, which will be introduced sometime in the future.
New legal regulations are being discussed now which will affect the new role of central libraries management within the autonomy of tertiary schools. They will determine the legal status of librarians in the light of the new Higher Education Act of 1990 September 12. (These problems were subject of a conference of library directors of university libraries in Gdaþsk-Oliwa in May 1991).
The network of Polish libraries has not changed yet and the system of financing the leading libraries (national and central ones) by the state is still in operation. It is worthwhile to present some data concerning scientific libraries. In Poland at the present moment there are 110 tertiary school libraries (11 main university libraries, 12 central libraries of Polish Academy of Sciences, 34 libraries of independent scientific institutes, scientific societies, seminaries, theological academies etc., and libraries of central state institutions e.g. Parliament Library). All these are scientific and specialist libraries. I do not mention public libraries. These libraries come under the administration of various ministries; however university libraries are subordinate to the Ministry of National Education, while central libraries come under branch ministries, e.g. Ministry of Health.
According to the new Act topographic maps (scale 1:25,000, 1:50,000 and 1:100,000) are no longer secret and can be used by the general public. This means a significant change in the working procedures of cartographic collections. They have to access the maps which involves a fair amount of work. Their general accessibility is most important and it is my great pleasure to communicate this fact to my European colleagues. Among vital library matters there arises the problem of the automation of Polish libraries. These matters are dealt with by the Automation Commission of the Main Board of the Polish Librarians Association. The Commission's preoccupation is to co-ordinate the co-operation of libraries with computer scientists.
The most important part of the commission's job is the registration of the availability of computer databases in the Polish libraries and information centres and the registration of cartographic and geodetic databases. The computerization of church libraries, which contain valuable modern and ancient collections, is also a matter of great importance. In the present situation, the co-operation of the heads of cartographic collections of the biggest libraries focuses in the Cartographic Commission of the Polish Geographical Society, the National Library, the Jagiellonian Library (especially for those libraries which are part of the network of university libraries), and other regional collections. The staff of cartographic departments of these libraries represent the interests of cartographic collections in all possible library meetings at administrative and university level. The leading role of these departments includes the running of professional training for the staff of cartographic collections and the organizing of exhibitions. Every year students of all university faculties (undergraduates) get "library training", which prepares them for use of the library. Staff often become involved in work on cartographic collections of other libraries. For example this year Jadwiga Bzinkowska of the Jagellonian library worked on the collection of plans and maps of the Historical Museum of Krakow and the Papal library of the Theological Academy of Krakow. The documentary description of the old maps also occupies a vital part of our work. Concerning this I should like to mention a very important publication which appeared recently on the Polish market (it is a Polish version but accompanied by summaries in foreign languages): "A Catalogue of Old maps of the Polish Republic in the Collection of Emeryk – Hutten – Czapski, part 2: Polish XVIIth century maps. Wroclaw-Warszawa-Kraków, Ossolineum, Wydawnictwo Polskiej Akademii Umiejetnoþci, 1992". This important publication contains descriptions of seventeenth century Polish maps, both atlases and individual sheets, published mainly in Western Europe.
In respect of this publication I want to emphasize the standard method of detailed map description used in Poland. It contains such elements as: title, dedication, names of the authors, scales, cartographic grid and its markings, map orientation, graphic part (legend, frame, cartouche, decorations etc.). The description also pays attention to technical aspects, format, watermark, signature, glossary, bibliography. It is very important that the description provides guidance to the source contents of the map.
In the field of documentary description of old Polish maps a great contribution was made by the staff members of cartographic collection of the Jagiellonian Library of Krakow. Mr. Edward Schnayder provided descriptions of 36 Polish maps and plans held in the Military Archives in Stockholm (Krigsarkivet). Most of them were unknown. Jadwiga Bzinkowska provided a catalogue of old maps of Poland published in England which are held in the Bodleian Library Collection in Oxford (at the moment they are being prepared for issue). Within the wide range of our activities the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America occupies a special position. The cartographic department of the Jagiellonian Library organized in Bochum, Germany, a small exhibition entitled: Alte Karten und Beschreibungen Amerikas aus der Sammlung der Jagiellonischen Bibliothek. Krakau. The exhibition was organized as a result of co-operation between the Jagiellonian University and the University of Bochum. It was open from 11 June to 9 July and held in the Kassenhalle of the Sparkasse Bochum. The exhibition was accompanied by a lecture by E. Schnayder. At present we are preparing an exhibition devoted to the Polish repercussions of the discovery of America. This exhibition will act as part of a session organized by the History Institute of the Jagiellonian University and will take place in December 1992.
Finally I would like to put emphasis on the fact that changes which are occuring in the life of our country will have a special bearing on the function and position of cartographic collections. During next meetings of the GdC de LIBER you will hear more on this subject.
Jadwiga Bzinkowska, Biblioteka Jagiellonska, Kraków