The library for the protection of cultural heritage was established together with the setting up of the Office for the Protection of Monuments in 1913. In the beginning this was a reference library intended to support conservator and his everyday work. Later, it grew and expanded, together with its parent institution. It also underwent numerous modifications, reorganisations and divisions which only emphasised the importance of a mission which has remained unchanged for the last century.

The library opened to the public in the 1930s, when there are records of the first books being borrowed by people from outside the institution. In 1948, when the institute began its publishing activity, the library set up a system of exchange of publications with similar institutions in Poland, Germany, Austria and the rest of Yugoslavia. Exchanges grew with the growth of publishing activity and popularisation of protection of cultural heritage and are now in place with more than 560 institutions in Slovenia and abroad. These international and inter-library connections were established with a view to enriching own collections and the collections of similar libraries and institutions with which the library cooperates.

The library evolved together with developments in library science, and in the 1980s upgraded its system of library catalogues from book registers and card catalogues to computerised systems. In 1999, the collection was arranged in open access system. A keyword catalogue was established to assist library users as well as those who use the co-operative catalogue COBISS, of which the library has been an active member since 2000.

Modern library

During the hundred years of its existence, the library has operated at different locations. In 2004 it moved, together with its parent institution, from Plečnik Square to new premises in Metelkova Street, Ljubljana. Almost 500m of shelves of items were moved. Thus for the first time in its history, the library now enjoys premises designed and built for its very purpose. It houses more than 11.700 volumes of journals and more than 16.850 books.

Throughout the last century, the library has continuously, promptly, purposefully and systematically created a collection of books on conservation, and, to a lesser extent, on restoration and on basic areas of individual conservation disciplines (art history, history, archaeology, architecture, ethnology, landscape architecture and history of technology). Here are also deposited all official documents concerning the protection of cultural heritage. The library keeps up to speed with international developments and covers the largest possible number of aspects of the protection of cultural heritage, including legal ones. In the recent period it has launched several projects to popularise its activities and educate its users. In the last decade it has served as a model of special library for students of library science.

It is also the key information point – and one of a kind – for immovable cultural heritage, providing support to the register of cultural heritage and serving as the central library of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. From its beginnings as a reference library for a closed circle of professionals, it evolved into a model special library, the biggest and the richest in its field in Slovenia.

Barbara Kavčič