University of Warsaw Library, Poland

Warsaw Wniwersity Library inside
Warsaw University Library interior


Name of the Library: University of  Warsaw Library
Parent Organisation: University of  Warsaw

Street Address: ul. Dobra 56/66
Postal Address: 00-312 Warszawa
Telephone : +48 22 55 25 660
Web Address:
Library Email:       

Type of Library:  Central/ Main
Population served: 2,500 per day
Project Type:
New Building
Size (square metres):  Total surface: 60 000 m 2 Library’s surface: 40 000 m 2 There are 1000 seats for readers
Date of Completion:  December 1999
Architect:Marek Budzyński, Zbigniew Badowski

Warsaw University Library exterior
Warsaw University Library exterior

The University of Warsaw Library is situated in Powiśle district, in the vicinity of the Old Town,  The Royal Route (Krakowskie Przedmieście street), the University Campus and  the Vistula river.
The University of Warsaw Library was founded in 1816. It is the main library of the University and one of the three largest collections of scholarly books in Poland.

The open stacks are organized according to the Library of Congress Classification system and the open stacks surface is divided in eight subject-areas.

The building consists of two parts : the front crescent-shape edifice assigned for commercial purpose (shops, cafes, offices) and the main 6-storey high building (2 underground levels – parking lot, shops, bowling center – temporarily rented, will accommodate the Library’s storage in the future) . Both parts are connected by a passage-way covered with a glazed roof. Reinforced concrete, glass and steel are distinctive features of the Library’s architecture. Interior design is also very minimalist – all technical installations (air condition, pipes) are not hidden. A white suspended ceiling is used mostly in the reading areas because of acoustic reasons. The Library’s furnishing, designed specially for the interior, is made from steel, glass and concrete, too. The dominating color is grey. Only the upper part becomes green (the glass-supporting construction). Other colors are “painted” by books and people. There are two entrances to the Library on the ground level – from the south and from the north. They lead to the passage where cloakrooms, exhibition hall, a restaurant and shops are situated. There are also Acquisition Department and Preservation and Conservation Department. A big area is taken by the Library’s storage. The crescent-shape edifice is located on the west from the main building. From the passage a glass door opens to the Library. Above the entrance a huge copper book with Latin inscription HINC OMNIA welcomes visitors. A high flight of steps topped by four columns, leads to the catalogue hall on level 1. Here can be found: catalogues (online and paper – alphabetic and subject catalogues), Reference Desk, Circulation Desk, Interlibrary Loan, Information and Public Service Department and open stacks of four subjects (Language. Literature; Philosophy. Psychology. Religion. Education; History; Geography. Mathematical, Natural and Applied Sciences). The part inaccessible for visitors contains Technical Services Department and NUKAT Center. On level 2 subject areas of: Law. Political Science; Sociology. Anthropology; General Works. Library Science; Music. Architecture. Fine Arts are situated. There are also: the main Reading Room, Current Periodicals Reading Room, Textbooks Collection, Administration Department, Tea Pavilion and NUKAT Center. Computer Department and Serials Department are not accessible for visitors. Level 3 is assigned for Special Collection Rooms (Early Imprints, Print Room, Manuscripts, Maps Collection, Ephemera, Music Collection) and Austrian Library. Part of the complex of the buildings is taken by the Faculty of Law and Administration (entrance from Lipowa street).

The building of the Library is surrounded by green. The façade carrying a huge elevated inscription “ BIBLIOTEKA UNIWERSYTECKA”  is divided by 4 entrances leading to the passage. Under the inscription there are 8 big copper panels (4 to 7 meters) presenting the realm of knowledge, memory and writing. There are excerpts from a Polish Renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski, from Plato, an old-Russian chronicle, from Arabic and Indian classics and from the Bible. There is a score by composer Karol Szymanowski (his works are in the collection of Music Collection) and a sample of mathematical formulas.

The Library viewed from the garden
The Library viewed from the garden

Awards, case studies, further information

  • Sienkiewicz Medal and Diploma of Recognition awarded by the Foundation Sienkiewicz (2000)
  • Order Bibliotheca Magna Perennisque awarded by the PLA (2001)
  • The 2002 edition of the awards of the Minister of Infrastructure project of the University Library in Warsaw by prof. Marek Budzynski and Zbigniew Badowski team was awarded the first prize in the field of “Architecture and Construction” for:
    – Outstanding architectural qualities, functional and visual
    – Implementation of the innovative open library that creates unlimited spatial and organizational barriers to contact with books,  Exceptional architectural masterpiece inspired to organize building on the Vistula, – Unique link between ecological architecture with high technique and technology.
  • The granting of awards WIK – SIGN IN YES by monthly WiK – Warsaw and Culture. The award was conferred in the category: PLACE (2004)
  • First prize in the residents plebiscite on positive place in Warsaw, organized by Clear Channel as part of the project Positive City, foundation Bęc Zmiana and “Gazeta Stołeczna” (2005)



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