Research activities in the National Széchényi Library are focusing on the scientific processing of library holdings and related historical research.
The library intends to establish a European Book History Centre, the main objectives being: to carry out and co-ordinate research into Hungarian and European book history, to take part in comparative research, to compile bibliographies and to process holdings respectively. In the course of implementing these objectives the library is planning to co-operate with other research organisations and professional communities both in Hungary and other European countries.
To support professional activities and to provide literature on the history of books and libraries, for the researchers of both the national library and the European Book History Centre a special collection was set up by extending the collecting scope and the open-access stock of the former Special Library of Book History, Library and Information Science.
The European Book History Collection virtually unites the already existing holdings of the (now) Special Library for Book History, Library and Information Science and the relevant holdings of the National Széchényi Library as well. The collection is well complemented by the materials to be found in the reference libraries of special collections at the national library. A unique value of the collection is the good representation of book history literature originating from the neighbouring region as compared to similar Western European collections. This is to be thanked to the close relations of the Hungarian national library with Central and Eastern European countries. The collection is therefore to serve as an excellent source of comparative research.
Most of new acquisitions come from donations by generous foreign partners. As first, the Italian Republic is to be mentioned, which has already put a large amount of books on Italian book history at the disposal of this collection. The ministries, publishers and libraries of other European countries ( Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Germany) have also offered donations to enrich this collection. Additions to the collection are made by purchases too, as allowed by the financial opportunities of the national library.
It was on June 10, 2004 that the European Book History Collection was founded as the representative of the Italian Ministry of Culture, Prof. Francesco Sicilia, Director-General of the Direzione Generale per i Beni Librari e gli Istituti Culturali del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali handed over to the National Széchényi Library under festive circumstances a digital facsimile of a Corvina codex (Diomede Carafa De institutione vivendi, G.G.III. 170.1654) preserved in the Biblioteca Palatina (Parma).
The European Book History Collection covers the subject of book history in the widest sense. It includes the themes of written communication, the history of book culture, of libraries and librarianship as follows:
The open-access stock of the European Book History Collection holds only a part of relevant publications. Information on the whole collection is provided by a virtual catalogue being an organic part of the national library's OPAC, and is accessible and searchable among the NEKTÁR (LibriVision) databases.
- writing, history of writing, paleography
- history of information media, paper, papermaking
- history of manuscript books and codices
- history of printing and typography
- book art, illustration, bookbinding and their history
- publishing, book trade and their history
- history of the press and journalism
- censorship and its history
- library history
- history of librarianship and library science
- history of reading
- biographies of librarians