Genesis of the project
Three aids are necessary for learning and teaching:
firstly books, secondly books and thirdly books.
Library collections constitute an exceptionally valuable element of cultural heritage whose protection is a duty of each generation. This is a set of various and comprehensive activities, aiming at ensuring protection and good condition of preservation of collections, as well as suitable conditions of making them available. Protection of collections is among basic tasks of libraries (Article 4.1.1. Libraries Act of 27 June 1997).
The beginnings of digitisation in Poland date back to the late 1990s. In the case of Krakow libraries, a regular digitisation process started as late as in 1999. Since the process can also be executed with the use of external services, we have to mention the Jagiellonian Library as the one which as the first in the country – as early as in 1995, with the participation of a commercial company – scanned and saved on CDs an oeuvre of Mikołaj Kopernik De Revolutionibus. Two years later, a project of memorial About the need to save the Polish cultural heritage in library and archive collections from the 19th and 20th century was elaborated. Public discussions on basic theses of the memorial, in particular the problem of acid paper, were carried out during the 2nd Congress of Chemical Technology in Wrocław in September 1997, where a requirement for creation of a strategic government programme in this scope was suggested. Although we can talk about regular digitisation of collections at the Jagiellonian Library from 2003 – from the moment of purchasing special devices by the library – its participation in the beginnings of digitisation of collections in Poland cannot be disregarded.
The project entitled “Jagiellonian Digital Library” (JBC) is therefore a direct effect of undertaken initiatives in the scope of active protection of unique library collections against irreversible degradation and irrecoverable loss.
In the years 2002-2003, the research assessing the state of preservation of the entire book collection was carried out at the Jagiellonian Library. Approx. 13% of examined books and periodicals were considered as items of “very bad state, justifying the need for exclusion from being made available”. A vast majority of the collection was constituted by periodicals published in the 2nd half of the 19th century and in the 1st half of the 20th century, as well as special collections, i.e. the ones which the Jagiellonian University wants to protect and archive at present and whose digital copies it intends to create.
A decision on the initiation of collection digitisation processes is justified, inter alia, by the following arguments:
- necessity to protect against destruction the collections possessed, valuable from the perspective of cultural heritage and history of technical development (collections printed in the 19th and first half of the 20th century), as well as the need for making them available to a wider group of users;
- necessity to protect originals against theft or destruction by making digitised items available;
- need for effective and wider availability of resources, and also their more complete application in the full-time education process and ultimately in “distance learning”;
- willingness to participate in the national strategies: e-Europa and e-Polska as well as the European Union strategy i2010, and to take an active part in the digitisation initiative undertaken by other university libraries in Poland.
The genesis of the project is also constituted by its complementarity with the “Development Programme for the Jagiellonian University” dated 2007, which includes among the most important development undertakings the necessity to quickly introduce new solutions from the scope of IT techniques, allowing for combining great university traditions with modernity at the highest level (priority 5 of the Programme "Informatisation of the university" connected with Measure 5.03: "Development of Internet access systems and databases by employees, PhD students and students”) scheduled to be implemented within 5 following years.
On April 15, 2010 an agreement between the Jagiellonian University Governance and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage on co-financing of the “Jagiellonian Digital Library” project within the measure 11.1 “Protection and preservation of trans-regional cultural heritage”, priority 11 “Culture and Cultural Heritage” of the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment 2007-2013 was concluded.