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Jovan Hadzic (1799-1869)

Sava Tekelija (1761-1842)

Platon Atanackovic (1788-1867)

Atanasije Stojkovic (1773-1832)

Jovan Subotic (1817-1886)

Jovan Djordjevic (1826-1900)

Jovan Radonic (1873-1956)


The Matica Srpska Library is the oldest Serbian national library and the first public and scientific library of Serbs. It was founded in 1826, in Pest, together with the foundation of the Matica Srpska Literary Society. It was only natural for the books to find their place in such a literary society. The intention of the founders, led by Jovan Hadzic was „to develop the literature and the education of the Serbian people, i.e. to publish Serbian books and publicize them". The first issues of Letopis Matice srpske, which appeared in 1824, first book editions and gifts from Russia, as well as other books unknown to us, were the core of the Matica Srpska Library. It was officially opened for its readers on 26 August, 1838 „for the Slavonic people of any language or origin, who are welcome to enter and read the books". It was situated in Tekelijanum, the institute supporting Serbian students in Pest. This Institute was founded by Sava Tekelija, the president and patron of Matica Srpska.

The first issue of the Letopis Matice srpske from 1824

The Library received its first known gift from Atanasije Stojkovic in 1832. In the same year, it began to exchange books with the Russian Academy of Science. From April 1839, the Library received more and more books. The first large personal libraries were received from Platon Atanackovic and Sava Tekelija. The Matica Srpska Library was already known as the largest Serbian library. A lot of other people also donated books at that time: Teodor Pavlovic, Dimitrije Tirol, Vuk Karadzic, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, Jovan Subotic, Jan Kolar and others.

In the period from 1848 to 1849 both the Library and Matica Srpska were closed.

In 1864, the Library and the Society were moved to Novi Sad, where they continued their successful development. In that period, the stock of the library was increased through purchases, subscriptions and, especially, through exchange of the Matica Srpska publications for publications of the academies of science, universities, literary and cultural societies and journal publishers from all Slavonic and most European countries, as well as through the purchase or donation of private libraries, libraries of different institutions and societies.

The Library was professionally organized in 1842-1843 by writer Jovan Subotic. He prepared and published the first Serbian current bibliography in Letopis Matice srpske (1842-1847).

Jovan Djordjevic, a man of literature and the theatre, as well as the Matica Srpska secretary from 1857 to 1859, was the first to suggest a concept according to which the Matica Srpska Library should become a national library. He proposed that all Serbian books and periodicals, Slavonic books and all publications about the Serbian people should be collected. He also proposed that university library should be founded in Tekelianum.

Jovan Radonic, historian, was the librarian from 1899 to 1905 and in The Library Rules, he established the principles of planned acquisition, the protection and usage of books and periodicals, and gave the basic principles for setting up a catalogue.

Between the two World Wars, the Matica Srpska Library continued its activities as a public and scientific library. As a public library, its intentions were always to make the books as accessible to the readers as possible. As a scientific library, it provided resources that served for studies on Vojvodina, which was the aim of the Matica Srpska Society. The universal character of its collections, the successful exchange with Yugoslav and foreign libraries, as well as the needs of scientists from Novi Sad and other Yugoslav centers, encouraged the development of its functions as a general scientific library.

During both World Wars, the Library was closed and its stocks, fortunately, remained almost untouched.

After the Second World War, the Library underwent intensive development in various directions. In 1948 the Matica Srpska Library became the Central Library of Vojvodina and started to receive a sample copy of all the publications in Serbia, and in 1965 all of Yugoslavia. It became an independent institution in 1958. Ever since the University of Novi Sad was founded (1960), the Library has contributed to the development of research work at the University by practically functioning as a university library as well. From 1948 to 1994, it was the central library for all the libraries in Vojvodina and after that, for all the academic and scientific libraries. In accordance to the Law on Library Work (1994), the National Library of Serbia cooperates with the Matica Srpska Library in the realization of the general interests of library activities in the Republic.

Since 2003 the Matica Srpska Library has started again to be the central library for all the libraries in Vojvodina organizing expert exams for librarians as well.

With its rich collections offering excellent opportunities for cultural, historical and scientific research, and the variety of library and information services, the Matica Srpska Library is a modern library of Yugoslav significance. Its long and continuing existence places the Matica Srpska Library among the institutions of the Serbian people with the longest tradition.


© Matica Srpska Library 2003 - 2015