History

The National Technical Museum Library has a long-term tradition. It emerged as the result of a merger between three significant libraries: the actual NTM Library, the library for the propagation of industry in Bohemia and the library of the association of architects and engineers (SIA).

S jejím budováním bylo započato již při založení muzea v roce 1908. Stejně jako archiv byla již tehdy chápána jako důležitá samostatná složka muzea, která měla nejen doplňovat a umožňovat činnost sbírkových skupin, ale i shromažďovat a uchovávat technickou literaturu pro potřeby badatelů a veřejnosti. Proto muzeum od počátku budovalo knihovny dvě – příruční a hlavní. Příruční knihovna měla obsahovat základní díla o celkovém vývoji techniky a průmyslu i jednotlivých průmyslových odvětvích a měla tak sloužit pro vnitřní potřeby muzea. Hlavní knihovna měla obsahovat odborné knihy a časopisy ze všech technických oborů a sloužit pro potřeby širšího okruhu zájemců.

Schwarzenberský palácIt was established at the same time as when the museum was founded, in 1908. Just as the archive, it was taken as an important independent division of the museum, with a supplementary duty not only to aid the museum's collecting activities, but also to gather and preserve technical literature for researchers and the public. For that reason, the museum actually established two libraries – the auxiliary and the main. The auxiliary one was intended to house basic works about overall development of technology and industry, and individual industrial branches and so serve primarily the internal needs of the museum. The main library would house professional books and magazines from all technical professions and serve a wider, public audience.

The actual library was originally located in the Schwarzenberg palace, along with the museum's collections. However, its content gradually grew with various donations, bequests and purchases, so that by about 1920, it had around 12,000 volumes. Among the first benefactors was, for instance, Eng. J. Štěp, administrator of the high commission in Jáchymov, who donated the very valuable publication by Ch. A. Schlüter "Gründlicher Unterricht von Hütte-Werken" from 1738 and so laid the cornerstone for the old print collection. After WWI, other industrial concerns of the time, like Breitfeld, Daněk & Co., the Škoda works and others began contributing to the library. Due to lack of space and in an effort to keep all Prague's technical libraries in one place, in 1919 the museum decided to move its main library to the Havel monastery in Old Town, which then housed even the library of the Industrial Unit. Here the library funds were processed as a complete entity and made available to the public. At the same time, the two institutions came to an agreement under which both libraries would be merged, and together with the library of the association of architects and engineers would create a central technical library in Prague. However, this effort failed and the libraries were not merged until the 1950s.

In the meantime, the auxiliary library began gaining importance, until then located in a museum office and established for the internal use of the museum staff. It contained sources capturing the development of natural sciences, technology and industry, including rare prints, professional books and magazines, and biographies of leading technical designers and inventors. After completion of the new building on Letná, in the 1950s the auxiliary library was moved into the new spaces, while the originally main library of the museum stayed, along with the Industrial Unit, in the unsuitable spaces of the Kinský palace on Old Town Square, to where it had moved in 1935 from the Havel Monastery. After dismantling of the Industrial Unit as an organization in 1950, its library was definitely merged into the National Technical Museum Library, and in a similar fashion two years later, the same happened with the library of the association of architects and engineers. Integration of the Industrial Unit library was an extremely valuable acquisition for the museum – this fund, in its size, number of unique items and number of old prints actually overshadowed the original library. The Industrial Unit library was established in 1835 and during the entire 19th century, during which the Industrial Unit was headed by representatives of Czech industry and trade circles, the library accumulated not only technical literature, but also economical publications, which were important for understanding the build-up of craft and industrial production.

The merging of these libraries in that time laid the foundation for establishing one of the largest specialized professional libraries in the country. Despite that, the physical joining of the two funds of the National Technical Museum Library did not happen until 1972, when clearing and renovation of the depository on the first floor of the museum's east wing allowed moving the volumes of the former Industrial Unit from the Kinský palace to Letná. Then, in the 1990s, the library moved in its fund that was created by various shuffles in the 1950s and stored in the depository in Invalidovna. Simultaneously, it acquired several thousand volumes of professional literature from dissolved companies and bureaus, like the Královedvorecko ironworks, SURPMO and Czech shipyards.
 

The library systematically supplements its funds by purchasing thematic publications aimed at the fundamental professions of the National Technical Museum. With the expansion of information technology, it constantly expends its collaborative efforts with other libraries – for example, the National Library, the National Technical Library, the Library of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the National Museum, the Military Historical Institute, the National Gallery, the libraries of ČVUT, VŠCHT, VŠUP, AVU and others. For several years now the library has collaborated on the Union Catalog of the Czech Republic, is a member of the Uniform Information Gateway in the TECH branch, and from 2007 has collaborated on the creation and further development of the Art and Architecture Gateway (ART).

Currently the library is undergoing an extensive reconstruction, which should be completed in 2012. Visitors may then use the newly outfitted study, enhanced with a selection of publications of not only encyclopedic character, but also basic literature on the fundamental professions covered by the museum, journals and naturally also new volumes in the library.
Besides the study and office spaces, essential spaces in the library's depositories will have also been renovated. Serious improvements to the quality of the storage spaces for the historical library funds are underway; the depositories will be equipped with climate controls and books will be placed on new, compact bookshelves.