National and University Library in Zagreb

Historical Overview


The  National and University Library dates back to the early 17th century. It was started as a Jesuit library but over time it grew into a public library with an important heritage – the books and manuscripts from a Croatian writer named Adam Baltazar Krčelić. With the foundation of the University of Zagreb in 1874 the University Library was created. The library took over the function of the National Library of the Croatian people and is thus today known as the National and University Library.

Over time the National and University Library changed its location several times. Towards the end of the 19th century the building was situated in the Old Town. Later on it moved to the University Administration building and after that it relocated to a very impressive building in Marulić Square.

In 1995 the National and University Library moved to a new modern building. On the third floor there is a staircase above which there is some glass. However, when you look at it from below you can see in it a reverse panoramic view of the city. It was a great scene. We were mesmerized.

The National and University Library’s primary mission is the development of the national literary corpus. It has around 2.5 million volumes – books, journals, newspapers and particularly valuable items in the library’s special collections. Modern technology has led to the library being computerized, and therefore most of its material is available online.

The library´s general opening hours are between 08.00-21.00 on Monday to Friday and 08.00-15.00 on Saturday. Also user services have different opening hours on each floor.

The National  and University Library of Zagreb is very near to the faculty. It is a good chance for students. Whenever they want they can go there. Another great opportunity for students is the possibility of late night studying. The library opens its doors for all students wishing to study until midnight every day. The guide told us that the reservations are full within an hour, especially during exam times. Moreover, the Library wanted to cater to its users by using the UDC system because it is easy to use due to its systematical nature.


The National and University Library in Zagreb has three types of collections:

1.Digital collections

2.Special collections

3.Reading rooms collections

Each part has its special collection, for example digital collections include Digitized Heritage, Croatian Historic Newspapers, Old Croatian Journals, Croatian Web Archive and the Digital Academic Repository; special collections include Manuscripts and Old Books Collections, Print Collection, Map Collection and the Music Collection; at the end, reading rooms collection have Reference Collection, LIS Collection, Doctoral and Master’s Theses Collection and the Official Publications Collection.

Croatian Historic Newspapers is a portal created in 2010 within the framework of the project the Croatian Cultural Heritage by the Croatian Ministry of Culture, and is being developed through a regular program of protection and digitization of newspapers in the National and University Library in Zagreb. The portal and other Croatian institutions want to enable users to access and search old newspapers.

The portal Old Croatian Journals aims to provide access to old Croatian journals to a cultural and scientific community and protect and preserve the cultural and scientific heritage. The project is financially supported by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and is an integral part of the Croatian Cultural Heritage.

Digital Academic Repository (DAR) features a selection of digitized old doctoral dissertations (1880 – 1952), bibliographic records of dissertations and biographical information of the authors.

Reference Collection

The LIS Collection is intended exclusively for librarians and functions as the constituent part of the Institute for Librarianship. The Collection systematically gathers national publications specializing in the field of librarianship, information and communication sciences as well as relevant publications in these fields in foreign languages. The Collection additionally serves as a ready reference collection for the Croatian Training Centre for Continuing Education for Librarians, providing access to scientific and professional literature necessary for the continuing education and lifelong learning of librarians.

A very valuable asset for the Library is also the Homeland War Book Collection which commemorates the Homeland War.

We also saw some microfilms and for most of us it was the first time we ever saw a microfilm machine. When we visited the microfilm room some users were using materials on these machines so it was interesting to see someone working on them.

Another thing we saw were important documents that are preserved in special boxes. The users who want to look at these documents can only obtain a digital copy which cannot be taken outside of the room where the documents are stored.


First of all you can find information about these services in the Basic Information section. For example information about user registration, lending and pricing services, etc. The library also offers reference services, e-services, reading rooms and IT facilities. The most important reference service is Ask a librarian. You can consult with a librarian via internet regarding any question you have.

The library provides various bibliographic-reference and catalogue information and the users may easily find out whether specific materials, books or journals  are part of the library’s holdings and get acquainted with details such as the call numbers of specific items as well as whether they are available for use and/or loan.

There isn’t enough information about e-services on the web site but you can find information about the National and University Library on social networks which provide facilities to communicate via Facebook and Twitter.

“In the library” services provide facilities like interlibrary loan, learning programs, study rooms and bookcrossing.

Reading rooms are divided by subject; for example social science, natural and applied science room, periodical rooms, etc.

The Library also offers IT facilities free of charge for all registered users. For example the library provides self-service facilities for copying various materials (parts of books or particular journal articles) only for personal use and in accordance with the Copyright and Related Rights Act. Beside this service, the library’s software and hardware services and the computer network (wired and wireless) is completely free of charge for registered users.


Users can search the library collections through available catalogues such as NUL online catalogue and scanned alphabetical card catalogue. Users can browse materials according to some categories like old Croatian journals, books, serial publications, etc. There are also electronic resources such as reference resources, social science and humanities, etc. And also you can find open access accessions and journals and doctoral and master’s theses of the University of Zagreb. Via the library website users can easily access some related sites like OCLC, WDL, TEL, WORLDCAT, etc.


The users of the library have to be registered to have access to the collections. They have a Library Membership Card, and they also have to present their Identity Card; the access is very regulated, because of the importance of the collections and the number of people who would have access to the library. All users must register when entering the library by slipping their membership cards through access control card readers. At the entrance they have to leave their personal belongings. Only small-size bags for personal documents and laptop bags are allowed.

But in spite of these strong regulations users have a lot of work space. The different spaces are really well organized for a more simple use of the library. However, there is no space which permits to speak loudly. Working in groups is tolerated, but the library must remain a quiet place. People should not disturb the others.

Furthermore, the users of the National Library can visit the last floor to drink coffee or eat something: a sort of a place to relax and socialize.

National Library’s website

The National Library in Zagreb has it’s own website, which is very well structured with a modern design. The site includes information, collection, service, resources, ask the librarian option, Feedback, user guide and virtual tour.

Feedback –  Every user can share his own opinion, comment, give recommendations and negative reviews on the website of the library.

Virtual Tour –  Visitors can see how the library looks like outside and inside before their visit.

Erasmus group in the National and University Library

In the 21st century the information technologies are very important in our lives. The cultural institutions consider their presence on the web as a good  practice. The National and University Library in Zagreb  is a good example of a modern library.

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