The Episcopal Library of Pécs (Pécsi Püspöki Könyvtár), which is the legal predecessor of the library of the University of Pécs Library, was founded by György Klimo bishop (1710-1777) in 1774, who made it the first Hungarian public library.
With the intention of Maria Theresa, György Klimo became the head of the diocese of Pécs in 1751 and in 1754 he acquired the privilege of the cardinal pallium for his diocese, created new parishes, built churches, expanded the priestly seminary, and intended to establish a university following the example of the university founded by King Louis XIV, in 1367.
He created the conditions for this by setting up a paper mill and a printing press and invited scientifically trained priests to the diocese who were suitable for university professorships. Among them István Szalágyi and József Koller were especially outstanding, who, as librarians, enriched, arranged and cataloged the collection, and with the support of the bishop they researched and wrote the history of the diocese.
Klimo started collecting books when he was a prebendary in Esztergom, and continued to enrich the collection during his bishopric without sparing time, money, effort and financial sources.
The library was based on 3,000 volumes owned by Zsigmond Berényi (1736-1748), mostly consisting of theological, liturgical, legal and historical works, along with the Chapter’s 1000-volume collection of similar content Klimo bought. When the episcopal palace was expanded, he set up a separate wing for the library.
He collected books methodically, keeping in mind the needs of all faculties of the future university. Most of his purchases were made in Austria, Italy, the Netherlands by his friends, with whom he was in constant correspondence. In addition to significant aristocratic collections, the libraries of the Jesuit order became significant sources of supply. The order was dissolved in 1773, during which it was able to acquire valuable old books. The collection of about 15,000 volumes was enriched on and off after the death of the founder.
After the death of the founder, during the reign of László Pál Esterházy (1780-1799), the library grew very slowly and was enriched mainly with contemporary Hungarian and French works. His successors no longer paid much attention to the library and the purchases ceased and due to the absence of a librarian the public was excluded.
There was a significant change in the history of the library during the time of Ignác Szepesy's bishopric (1828-1838), when a classicist-style building was built in 1830 in order to house the current library. Szepesy had nearly 4,000 volumes of works that came mainly from the best of the Reformation's book production. At the suggestion of the bishop – and as a result of six years of work of János Vojdás and Eduárd Grandwohl – a catalog was created according to the new layout.
During the time of the bishopric of János Scitovszky (1839-1849), the library was gradually increased. At that time, statues of ancient and universal scientists, as well as Hungarian greats were exhibited. The statues are made by Mihály Bartalits.
In 1907, the county bishop Gyula Zichy (1905-1926) entrusted the excellent archaeologist Ottó Szőnyi to be the librarian. Szőnyi also took care of the cathedral’s collection, acquired new works and began to compile a catalog, which he was forced to stop during the Serbian occupation. When the Erzsébet University in Bratislava moved to Pécs, he had to start all over again from scratch; he had to leave his well-stocked library of 65,000 volumes in Bratislava. The city of Pécs – although it hoped for a university library for decades – after the war and the financial losses due to the Serbian occupation, could not provide more help.
In 1923, taking into account the intentions of his predecessor, Gyula Zichy, Bishop Klimo made the building of the Episcopal Library and his valuable book collection of about 30,000 volumes available to the university for perpetual use, thus creating the foundation of the university library.
The stock of the relaunched university’s library grew relatively fast – except during the war – which was mainly due to significant donations. Donors included Hungarian and foreign libraries as well as private individuals. The year 1930 brought significant changes in the life and development of the library when József Fitz, one of the most prominent Hungarian representatives of library science, has been the appointed director. He carried out the reorganization of the library in accordance with modern requirements. Fitz is famous for the professional processing of the entire bookstock, the creation of the alphabetical, specialist and keyword catalogs, acquisition of books and the formation of Hungarian and foreign exchange relations. In addition to the above mentioned activities, he created a larger reading room and a research room.
Between 1947 and 1960, the holdings of the Medical Library were deposited in the University Library, institutes, clinics, and various libraries in the city. In 1961, Veronika Faluhelyi became the re-organizer and director of the Library of the Medical University of Pécs for decades. As a result of her activities, the Medical Library became the special library of the Southern Transdanubia region.
In 1948, the Pedagogical College Library was founded. The Pollack Mihály Technical College Library has been operating since 1970, providing documents for teachers, students and external library users. In order to ensure the library provision of the growing departments as well as the new training courses, special libraries were created in the 1990s as part of the university library system. These special libraries belong to the following departments: Social Sciences Institute, Anglo-German Institute, Philosophy-Political Science Institute, Adult Learning and Human Resources Institute, and finally, the library of the Geographical Institute.
In 1991, the Faculty of Law was the second to receive the right from the European Commission in Hungary to create a European Documentation Center. The Documentation Center provides primary access for all university citizens to the official publications and community databases of the European Union. The Documentation Center was given a worthy place in the area of the new common legal and economic library, which was completed in 2003.
The establishment of the Library of the Faculty of Music and Visual Arts – in parallel with the formation of the Faculty of Arts – began in 1996. Its book stock partly consists of the departmental library deposit that was at the former Visual Arts Department. It is not a large number (about 2,000 volumes), but it is a very well-selected material that is important for this kind of special education. There was no library in the former Faculty of Music, so part of the holdings relating to music history in the Library of the Faculty of Humanities, the sound archive, and a part of Hauser Arnold’s legacy were transferred to the new library.
January 1, 2000 marked a great turning point not only in the life of the university, but also in the life of the existing library network. The libraries of three higher education institutions – the Janus Pannonius University, the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Illyés Gyula Pedagogical College in Szekszárd – have been integrated. The new library of the University of Pécs has been enriched with many special collections and extensive librarian experiences.
Today, the University of Pécs Library operates as an integrated library network: a central library, the library of the Medical and Health Sciences Center (practically two faculties), 6 faculty libraries – two of which are operated jointly by two faculties – and 5 departmental libraries. The faculty libraries are not part of this network, they are operated by the faculties.
The main decision-making body of the Library is the Library Council, whose members are the heads of the library units. Decisions of the Library Council regarding the financing of the library are provided an opinion by the Library and Economic Committee attached to the Senate, and finally adopted by the Senate. The operational governing body of the Library is the Directorate-General, headed by the General Director.
Although the library is physically fragmented into several buildings – it is in 12 buildings in Pécs and 4 in other cities –, the library’s professional, IT and administrative principles ensure the efficient operation of the integrated university library.