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HKD  //  About us  //  History

Foundation and early history

Croatian Library Association was founded in 1940. However, the need for an independent library profession had been stated in Croatia much earlier, in 1819, in Zagreb Royal Academy manifesto "Glorious Homeland ". It was quite progressive view for that time and in accordance with that in other countries where librarians were expected to do their jobs skilfully and where librarianship was turning into a profession.

For many years November 25, 1948 was regarded as a founding date of the CLA. Nonetheless, while moving the National and University Library in Zagreb, from Marulic Street 21 to the new library building in the Hrvatske bratske zajednice Street, an envelope with documents bearing the seal of Croatian Library Association dating back to 1940 was discovered. That first seal of the Association was preserved. The envelope contained 22 membership application forms and the list of 22 members. In the application forms members state their wish to become members of the Croatian Library Association. The oldest application forms are dated March 30, 1940 and bear the names of Josip Badalic, Julije Grabovac, Branka Hergesic, Zlata Maticec, Jelka Misic, Marko Oreskovic, Matko Rojnic and Eva Verona. Furtheron, other application forms were dated April 2, 1940, and bear the following names: Danica Bersa, Nevenka Dragicevic, Elza Kucera, Milan Resanovic and others. Mate Tentor applied a day later, April 3, 1940, and Juraj Canki, Mara B. Cvijanovic and Juraj Magovac April 5, 1940; Cvijeta Markovic, April 12, 1940; Vjera Gostincar and Marcel Vidacic, April 17, 1940; Ana Malancec October 1, 1940. Mladen Bosnjak and Dana Cuckovic May 31, 1941. Apart from these application forms, three receipts for honorarium payment to CLA from 1941, 1942 and 1943 were also discovered.

As far as we know, majority of documents, including the Association's founding document from 1940, have not been preserved. However, the Association's archive, founded November 25, 1948, hold Matko Rojnic's manuscript which was most probably written for the first congress of Yugoslav librarians in 1949, and was published in the conference proceedings entitled 'Association of Croatian Librarians from its beginnings to the Congress of Yugoslav librarians". In it Rojnic says: "Decision to found a new association was made at the meeting of Zagreb librarians in December1939. However, inaugural meeting of the Association was held March 14, 1940". The date recorded by Rojnic as the date of the inaugural meeting should be regarded historical. Not only the formal decision of Croatian Ministry of home affairs, document no. 7883-III/1945, and dated November 25, 1945, authorizing the Association's activity after the end of the WW2 was preserved, but also the decision of the same Ministry, document no. 34608-IX-1948 dated October 18, 1948, which put the aforementioned authorization out of effect. Surely, CLA was only one of many associations to be dissolved at that time. Soon after that, librarians in Croatia decided to found a new association ? Association of Croatian Librarians.

Founders of the Association founded in November 25, 1948, and whose anniversaries were observed untill1988, were mainly members of the original Association founded in 1940, who knew well that organized action which goes beyond individual libraries is needed to bring librarians together and strengthen the profession.

Founders of the Association submitted a registration form to the Ministry of home affairs in November 25, 1948. It listed twelve Association's founders with their occupations and home addresses: Branka Hergesic, (librarian), Zlata Maticec (librarian), Antun Kancijan (librarian), Jelena Ibler-Kovacevic (librarian), Dana Cuckovic (librarian), Josip Badalic (Yugoslav Academy Library director), Danica Bersa (library assistant), Elza Kucera (retired librarian) Matko Rojnic (University library director), Juraj Canki (Zagreb City Archives director), Jelka Misic (librarian), and Andela Pernar (library assistant).

Old and dusty documents from the period 1948-1950 tell about the librarians' enthusiasm to establish contacts with other colleagues. First post WW2 documents in the Association's archives are dated January 1949, but the numbering shows that not all documents from 1949 are preserved.

The archive holds an invitation to the inaugural meeting of the Association of Croatian Librarians, which marks its postwar history. Official decision made December 30, 1948. authorized foundation of the Association of Croatian Librarians It also approved the Association's Book of Rules which are preserved. Association's program was the following: "To advocate advancement of library profession and ensure professional development of its members, and provide authorities with expert advice on library matters. In order to achieve the outlined goals, the Association shall hold meetings and organize lectures on library related issues, publish professional publications, give professional opinions, and cooperate with similar associations in Croatia and other Yugoslav republics".

A book containing Association's secretarial notes from the period 1948 - 1952 is also very interesting. There is a directory of the Association's membership from 1940, which also contains data on members in 1950s and 1960s.

Gradually, the Association's membership increased. Evidence is found in the order, placed to the Federal graphical school in Zagreb, for 250 membership cards (dated May 30, 1949). The Association has also been taking members from outside Zagreb, primarily from Zadar, Rijeka and Varazdin.

During 1949 regional committees were founded in Zadar (chair Vjekoslav Mastrovic), Rijeka (chair Marko Cutic), Varazdin (chair Vanda Milcetic) and Dubrovnik (chair Frano Kestercanek), and in 1950 in Split (chair Hrvoje Morovic). It is also known that more intensive contacts among membership existed since 1949 in Zadar and Varazdin.

Establishment of professional bodies

The first section to be established within the Association was the one for public libraries. Archive treasures lengthy minutes from the first meeting of the Section for public libraries, held December 4, 1950, in the Zagreb City library, with the following agenda: advancement of public libraries, social attitude of the reader, library manual and cooperation on the library magazine.

First professional meetings

Ever since its establishment, the Association planned to organize professional meetings and lectures. Invitation to the first social meeting, including a lecture and discussion, held June 1, 1949, at 18 o'clock at the University library in Zagreb was preserved. The lecture "On Some Library Issues" was given by Rojnic, the president of the Association. In January 19, 1950, the Association organized a conference for librarians from Zagreb, where Eva Verona talked about cataloguing of anonymous works and corporate documents. Later that year, a conference was organized in Zagreb, 12 - 14 May, 1950, for librarians from other parts of Croatia. The Association collaborated with Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts in Zagreb, offering it professional advice. There are documents that testify to contacts of the Association with the Yugoslav Federation of Library Associations.

Cooperation with IFLA

"There are not many librarians who remember that Yugoslav Federation of Library Associations organized the 20th annual meeting of IFLA Council in Zagreb in 1954. The hedaquarters of the Yugoslav Federation was at that time in Zagreb, and was presided by Matko Rojnic? At that time, IFLA had 57 members from 36 countries... Zagreb Conference proceedings are undobtedly a valuable document, a witness to the long tradition of our Association and profession and first contacts with IFLA. IFLA meeting in Zagreb is important because it enabled Croatian librarians to follow international trends of the period. Photographs from the Association's archive show that several librarians from Croatia participated at IFLA conference held in Bruxelles the following year. Eva Verona's first talks, written for international audience, deal with topics that reflected contemporary interests. Some of them were published in the journal Libri, which at that time often published articles originally presented at IFLA meetings. However, Eva Verona had to wait a couple of more years to join IFLA Committee for Cataloguing. At Zagreb meeting, a librarian from Slovenia, Pavle Kalan, was elected to that Committee. Croatian librarian, Josip Badalic, joined the IFLA Committee for Theatre libraries, which was established at the Zagreb meeting. Later on, he was replaced with Branka Hergesic."

Many documents can be found in the Association's archive that testify to other international contacts of Croatian librarians, e.g. invitation to Josip Badalic to be a guest of the British Library Association, in 1950 in London and participate at the meeting commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the first Public Library Act.

Profesisonal Publications

One of the decisions made at the first annual meeting of librarians held September 18, 1949, was to publish a professional journal. The then president of the Association, Matko Rojnic, sent an official letter (dated October 19, 1949) to the Department for Information in the Government, and asked for permission to publish a library journal. He explained: "Adequate professional journal should publish theoretical articles dealing with tasks and roles of libraries, analyze the history of our libraries, solve problems encountered in libraries and provide guidelines for practical work in libraries. It should also give overview of activities in our libraries, and evaluate library, bibliographic and other publications, that are directly or indirectly related to libraries. Journal should be published four times a year in volumes of 5 double sheets, in format similar to that of journal Republika. An estimated circulation is 1000." The first editorial board (November 8, 1949) was composed of prominent Croatian librarians: Matko Rojnic, Josip Badalic, Jelka Misic, Vilma Radovanovic and Eva Verona, who immediatelly started collecting articles for the first issue.

The Croatian Library Association Herald was well received both in Croatia and abroad. First foreign subscribers were Columbia University Libraries and Bibliotheque de l' Universite Lund, which Eva Verona visited in 1952 and presented them all issues of the Herald published so far.

The Association's archive is a chronicle of a library profession. Turning the yellowish pages of many documents we find cornerstones of librarianship. They provide evidence of the establishment and early days of the Association whose membership wasn't large indeed . The most important fact is that it brought together people with rounded and mature understanding of the librarianship as a profession, and who knew how to develop it and sought partners throughout Croatia. As a result of their efforts, foundations have been laid for the latter development of librarianship.

Daniela Živković
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