Book collection

The core of this collection consists of the libraries of famous figures of Czech science and…

Book Culture

The first collections, upon which the department was founded, were items from publishers' estates,…


Users of the library are the physical or legal entities receiving a library card on the basis of filling out the request form and verified by the librarian against personal identification documents. Individuals must be at least 15 years old. Representatives of institutions make such arrangements of behalf of their institutions.

The card is good for five visits and expires one year from the date issued.
Card fees are shown in the services price list of the National Museum Library.


Attendance – from the central library, registered users may order materials into the Study Rooms of the National Museum Library, in the New building and in Zbraslav, sometimes in Terezín, only materials from audited collections. Requests may be handed in personally in the loan protocol of the New building or ordered online (see Catalogues and Databases)

Manuscripts and old prints are ordered online using the form on the web page of the Manuscripts and Old Prints Department.  Documents from rare collections (manuscripts, old prints) are delivered only to the Study Room in Terezín  for registered users that fill out a so-called researcher's sheet, testifying to the necessity of the material for a particular research project.

Materials from the Book Culture Department are ordered online on the pages of the Book Culture Department.
Collection items are loaned into the Study Rooms only after arrangements have been made with the collection's curator. Besides the basic registration, users must also fill out the so-called researcher's sheet.

Off-site – only for employees of the National Museum. Books may be loaned to employees' offices for the period necessary to utilize the volume for professional needs. Loans are possible only from the central library's audited collections.

Interlibrary loan services

If a desired volume is not available in the collections of the National Museum Library, the library will arrange a request to borrow the volume from another institution in the Czech Republic using its interlibrary loan services, or from a foreign institution via the National Library.

  • Borrowing volumes from the Czech library system (free)
  • Making copies from the Czech library system (paid service)
  • Borrowing or making copies from foreign institutions (paid service)


  • printed copies
  • digital copies – manuscripts, old prints and books from the 19th and 20th centuries that may be damaged by the copying process

Manuscripts and old prints are not microfilmed; only digital copies are provided.


The Central Library Department contains primarily of Bohemian print production, from the 19th century through the present. The Manuscripts and Old Prints Department has custody of the most valuable items in the Library – manuscripts and old prints. The Journals Department has the second largest periodical collection in the country, which expands constantly by receiving copies of all the current periodical production in the Czech Republic. It is located in the 'Little Castle', the one-time summer palace of the regent of the Royal hunting preserve in Prague 7. The Department of Chateau Libraries specializes in castle libraries of the Czech Republic, temporarily relocated to the palace in Zbraslav, until the historical museum building in the center of Prague is renovated. The Book Culture Department cares for materials dealing with book culture, like shop-keeper's songs, bibliophilic materials, illustrations, graphics, posters, sacred paintings, exlibris and printing blocks. The Library Service Department has charge of the library's services for the public, i.e. the Study Rooms, loan protocol (registry), information services, reprographics and digital materials. The International Exchange of Publications Department runs international literature exchange, purchases and gifts.

The history of the museum's Library starts at the same time as that of the museum as a whole, that is, 1818. The initial library collections were gifts from museum founders and patrons. This formed the basis for the museum's library. At the helm initially was an unusually gifted expert of the day – Josef Dobrovský. The first official librarian, taking the position in 1822 was Václav Hanka, one of Dobrovský's students. Hanka's successors, starting after 1861, were other significant personalities of the time – Antonín Jaroslav Vrťátko (1861–1892), Dr. Čeněk Zíbrt (1903–1928) and others.

According to the National Museum's statutes from 1994, the Museum Library is a publicly accessible research library. It is one of five divisions of the National Museum, along with the Natural Science Museum, the Historical Museum, the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and Indian Cultures and the Czech Museum of Music. Since 1956, the library publishes the Journal of the National Museum in Prague, series C – literary history from 2017 under a new name Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae – Historia litterarum; it collaborates with many institutions all over the world. In contrast with other libraries, the museum's library also serves as a museum division. It puts together exhibits both at home and abroad. It organizes lectures and lecture series, particularly in cooperation with Matice Česká, an association of the Museum Fellowship. It collaborates with the print media, radio and television. Library workers also function as educators in universities and in technical schools dealing with their specialty.

Since 2000, the library has participated in the project Memoriae Mundi Series Bohemica (national subprogram within the program UNESCO Memory of the World), whose goal is digitalization of historical library resources. Subsequently it also contributed to the Manuscriptorium and ENRICH programs.

In 2001 the Library began digitizing its collections. The Central Library Department uses the program KpWin and catalogs the material according to the AACR2 and MARC21 standards, adding the cataloged material to the Union Catalog of the Czech Republic. An online catalog was made available to the public in 2003, and is gradually being enhanced by the capability to order documents online.

In 2003 and 2004 the general author catalog was scanned, both Czech and foreign, and since 2005, work has been progressing on transcribing it into a database.

Manuscripts and old prints have been scanned and are stored on a separate library server, made available to the public via the digital library Manuscriptorium. Currently, there are 451 scanned manuscripts and old prints available from the library's collections.

Since 2005, the Manuscript and Old Print Department has been working on converting the card catalog of foreign old prints to digital format. This catalog has been developed over the last 200 years. The catalog of Czech old prints is already available online via the digital retrospective bibliography Knihopis.

Reformatting historical periodicals has been the task of the Journals Department, since 2004. It has integrated itself with the statewide program Kramerius and has digitized the newspaper Politik (1862–1906). Currently the department is working on scanning numerous other series of publications from its archives.

The Book Culture Department uses the database JanusArchiv for treatment of its exlibris, illustrations, graphics, printing blocks, material memorabilia and posters. The database currently has 25,000 cataloged records. Ongoing work consists of scanning or photographing collections items. Online viewing of the images is possible via the portals and

The digitalization of shopkeeper's prints has been underway since 2008, as part of the grant project "Open research space for shopkeeper's prints". Together with the company AiP, the department has digitized around 4,000 collections items. Bibliographic metadata are stored in XML format, according to the international standards in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). The open source editor Ignis was created to administer these records.