The history of the Library Of Saint Athanasius Greek Catholic Theological College

From the Foundation until the Renovation

Miklós Dudás, diocesan, the founder of the Theological College of (1950) is noted for the idea of establishing a library belonging to the college. At his request the parsons of the parishes offered works with religious content and works of literature, as well as periodicals. Many neglected books of the monks of Máriapócs also enteredgot into the collection. The other important sources of the collection were some complimentary copies, presents from abroad, and legacies, as well as purchased books. A first, the library could be visited in primitive circumstances, in one seminary room. The order and the content of the stock were unexplored, andthe documents were accumulated without any systematization. The task of the library was fulfilled by the current spiritual director of the seminarists. According to the data of 1965, the stock had 8000 volumes of books and 2000 periodicals. The library collected the technical literature of theology, and it could be visited by the tutors and students of the college.

From the Renovation to the Change of the Regime

The bishop dr. Imre Timkó initiated the reconstruction of the diocesan centre, which was done between 1977-1981. As a result of the reconstruction, a new two-storey library capable of housing 50.000 volumes acquiredgot its new place in the western wing of the building complex, on the corner of Gábor Bethlen and Bercsényi streets. The librarians' room was built between the groundfloor store-room and the reading hall, which was in the same place aswith the latter. In the store-room the modern books (from the XIX–XX. centuries) were kept in a mechanic order on adjustable shelf-length stands. The periodicals and old books and manuscripts were put on another floorstorey. From the point of view of the history of culture, these form a are considerable record memories of the XV–XIX. centuries. Dr. Nándor Molnár as a professional librarian started the work of systematization. He was followed by Dr. István Ivancsó. The systematization of the old books was carried out thanks to dr. Judit Csiba Mrs. Czellár and dr. Eszter Ojtozi, colleagues from the library of Lajos Kossuth University, and that of the manuscripts was thanks to dr. Julianna Pandur M., the colleague of the Slavic Philology Department of the University.

From the Change of the Regime until September 2003

The change of the regime opened new prospects for the college and the library as well. There were no more obstacles to getting western technical literature, periodicals containing the latest research andstudies. The national literature of theology boomed, since the state no longer restricted the publications of books and periodicals. According to the data of 1991, the stock of books consisted of 16.000 volumes, supplemented with 50 current periodicals. Readers could learn more about all of them based on an alphabetical catalogue (title, author, subject-heading). In the reading hall, 20 readers could work at the same time. Besides the tutors and students of the college, the services could be used – with permission - by researchers, and others doing scientific work. At that time the library also welcomed theological students whose training was provided by the Greek Catholic Theological College co-operating with György Bessenyei Teacher Training College (College of Nyíregyháza today) from 1992. The managerial work was done by dr. László Orosz. In 1995 at the next stage of institutional development, the Seminary and the Theological College became separated, and the library was maintained by the College. One year later in 1996, - according to the information given to the Library's Minerva – the stock consisted of over 23.000 library units. Then 11 Hungarian and 19 foreign periodicals were subscribed to. The main topic groups (theology, catholic theology) were supplemented by an additional topic group: history of art, due to the fact that a great number of artistic albums and art-publications came out at the time. These are relevant from the point of view of theological education because the decorative art of the catholic church of Byzantine style – with regard to both the icons, and constructive or the objects of arts and crafts- is an integral part of the liturgy.

The basic services of the library were supplemented with bibliography research and photocopying opportunities, even the computer catalogue became accessible for users as well. The new books were systematized with the SRLIB program, and they started to upload the documents explored in a traditional way on the computer. A full-time librarian, a part-time librarian and an honorary librarian provided the continuity of systematization, information, and service. The library was managed by Ferenc Buji that time. Between 1998 and 1999 the managerial tasks of the library were fulfilled by Géza Xeravits, biblical teacher. The library joined the work of the Church Libraries Association (EKE). This association – co-operating with the National Széchenyi Library – provides effective help in obtaining foreign technical books and periodicals.

Since 1 January 2000 the college - and its library fulfilling many tasks – has been officially called Saint Athanase. At that time, more than 30.000 volumes were registered. In the reading hall, 2500 volumes of books and the archives of periodicals were waiting for readers.

From September 2003 until Today

Both the college and the library arrived at a milestone in September 2003. Since then the work has continued in the new building at 13-19. Bethlen Gábor Street. The former cramped conditions were replaced by the grand, large spaces and modern equipment of the stately building. The library covers 600m2 on the second floor. The visitor is welcomed with the sight of aesthetic, properly designed furniture and wall covering in the reading hall. The lending counter, the stock of the open-shelf manuscript room with its 2500 volumes (in ETO order), and the archives of the periodicals offering the latest periodicals can be found here. After its systematization Béla Katona's Krúdy-collection also received its place here. The famous literary historian's thousands of books - containing valuable curiosities of national history and world literature – have increased the stock of the library since September 2004. The legacy was donated to the institution by the widow.

The library aims to meet the challenges of our information society; therefore its technical equipment is continuously enlarging. In the reading hall four computers can be used to explore primarily the electronic catalogue of the library; furthermore word-processing can be done on the other three computers. Also, in the reading hall 12 other computers with internet access were installed, but they can be used only by the full-time students of the Saint Athanasius Greek Catholic Theological College. The gallery-like store-room covering 144 m2 can be found in the northern part of the second floor, which was equipped with fixed metal shelvings.

The placing of the books is done according to their size, with continuous numbering based on the process of the former library system. The stock of periodicals - except for the latest editions – received its place on the gallery. The stock of the library is made up of more than 50.000 volumes of books; as for the languages, 60% are written in Hungarian, 18% in German. Considering other languages, literature written in Italian has entered the library in the largest proportion recently. It is explained by the fact that the college became an affiliated institute of the Pontificial Oriental Institute in 1995. The main topic group has remained unchanged, since then it is the literature of catholic theology that has been collected. Besides the history of art including the issues on oriental church of art, general works and the literature of humanities connected thematically are also collected. The tutors and students' requirements are continuously noted. They can get information about the newly-published works from the catalogues sent by the publishers, and based on it Endre Gánicz, the manager of the library, does the order after consulting with the Staff of Tutors. Besides the purchased books and presents, exchanged works are also important sources of the accession of the stock: 26% of the foreign current periodicals are exchanged copies. The computer register gives information about the whole stock, which can also be available on the net. Since the autumn of 2003 the documents have been systematized with the version SRLIB 3.1. The introduction of the alphabetic card catalogue (author, title) is on at the moment and the content systematization is still in process. The stock is guarded by a security system with cameras.

The topic group of the library is primarily theological, but also includes some related, arts-like scientific works – such as: history, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, ethnography, etc. – as well as works about church art considerably with the art of oriental christanity.

The institute has four considerable special-collections:

  • One of them is the legacy of Dr. Imre Timkó (1920-1988), professor at the Academy of Techology, diocesan later: about 6000 books and a great deal of manuscripts.
  • Another is the antiqua-collection which consists of books published before 1850. 55% of them are written in church Latin, 35% in Latin, and the remaining 10% are written in German and Hungarian. The Slavic material has an almost completely a liturgic style. Dr. Eszter Ojtozi and Dr. Julianna Pandur M., colleagues of Lajos Kossuth University of Debrecen, started to systematize them in the 1980s, but they did not manage to finish this work. The systematization of this part of the stock was not done until 2011. Some unique pieces of the antiqua-collection are: the Bible of Osztrog from 1851, of which only a few copies can be found in Hungary, and two copies are kept in the library of the College; another curiosity is the incunabula of Quaestiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum from 1481 which was written by Duns Scotus. Also, a unique document is the Codex of Piricse, a manuscript which can be dated back to the XVI. century.
  • Other two significant collections from the legacy of Béla Katona are the increasing Krúdy-collection,
  • and the national historical stock also from him. The famous literary historian's many thousands of books – including valuable works of national history and world literature- have enriched the stock of our library since September 2004. The Krúdy-collection contains - without the demand for totality - the works of fiction of the author Gyula Krúdy, who was born in Nyíregyháza.

The number of services of the library has increased in the new building: besides borrowing, reading locally, photocopying, giving information, and bibliography research, word-processing, printing and scanning have become available. Only registered readers are allowed to borrow books, but the other services can be used by anyone. The Library (and the whole building) is suitable for the disabled. On weekdays it is open from 8:30 to 16:30, and on Saturday, on the correspondent students' consulting day, a librarian is on duty.

The library and academic research

The Greek Catholic Theological College made a fruitful relationship with the Library of Lajos Kossuth University (University of Debrecen today, University and National Library). Both partners demanded this relationship. On the one hand, in the library of the college many books are kept, and their systematization needed professional help. On the other hand, the Slavic Philology Department of the University – fitting the national program - aimed to search for and systematize the old publications, and manuscripts written with cyrillic letters. Dr. Eszter Ojtozi, researcher, did some research in order to reconstruct the one-time stock of the monastic library of Máriapócs, and by looking for more books, she got to the only Hungarian Greek Catholic library in Nyíregyháza. Based on the previous arrangements, after clarifying the mutual expectations, on 10 May 1979 in our town, dr. István Csűry, the director of the legal predecessing Institute of the University Library of Debrecen and dr. Imre Timkó, bishop, who represented the Greek Catholic Theological College came to an agreement. The work which started in 1979 was done during two larger periods. Until 1981 the extant old documents in Nyíregyháza were put in an order of the library and catalogued. The books written in Greek, Latin, Hungarian and German were systematized by Mrs. Judit Csiba dr. Czellár, the books written in church Slavic, Polish, Romanian, and Slovakian were systematized by dr. Eszter Ojtozi (both are the colleagues of the University Library), the Slavic manuscripts written with cyrillic letters were systematized by dr. Julianna Pandur M. (the adjunct of the Salvic Philology Department of the University). At the second stage of the work, from 1981 the collection was completed methodically with the old materials found at the parishes of the diocese of Hajdúdorog and Apostolic Governorate of Miskolc.

Dr. Eszter Ojtozi, researcher, and Bertalan Dudás, the vicar of Anarcs, did most of the collecting work by personally visiting the remote, scattered settlements in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hajdú-Bihar and Szabolcs-Szatmár counties, but some priests also carried books to Nyíregyháza individually. One part of the collected old books and manuscripts remained in good condition, but there were many defective, scanty copies, and often moistness, mould, or fire marked them. During their process of identification, besides the usual data of description, other data about the condition, cover, notes written by hand, and the previous owners were also noted down. Besides the 31 manuscripts 'the catalogued previous stock had 743 volumes in the summer of 1986, the books written in church Slavic with cyrillic letters gave the backbone of the collection.' As with the reconstruction of the diocesan centre, the library was also renewed; it can give a worthy place for this valuable collection from the point of view of the books and cultural and church history. As a result of dr. Eszter Ojtozi's selfless work, the collection enriches not only the town's cultural values, but also it has found its place in international academic circulation. She sent the data of the books written with cyrillic letters before 1700 to Moscow for an international catalogue (The Catalogue of Cyrillic and Glagolitic Old Books). The data of the material from the XVIII. century could be built into the bibliography written in Ukrainian published in Lvov. The collection also contained about 100 defective books that could not be identified with any of the methods by the group of Debrecen, even their basic bibliographic characteristics (title, publisher, etc.) could not be identified. Among these dr. Eszter Ojtozi managed to identify 37 volumes with some help from Lvov and Moscow in 1987. The whole identifying process of this museum-like part of the stock was not finished until 2011.

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