The Somogyi Library – Szeged
In 1879, Szeged was destroyed when the River Tisza flooded the town. Afterwards, it was rebuilt as a modern city with international cooperation. Its cultural rebirth started with a donation from Károly SOMOGYI (1811-1888), the canon of Esztergom, who presented the city with his library of 43,701 volumes, a collection of major scholarly value at the time. Thus Somogyi became the founder of the present library. The collection represented a wide variety of disciplines, and it was intended to form one of the bases of a university to be established later in the city. The Somogyi Library opened on October 16, 1883. Between 1897 and 1984 it was located in the Közművelődési Palota (Palace of Public Education, now a museum).
The new library building, occupying 6 500 sq. meters of floor-space, opened on June 6, 1984, and it is now open to readers on workdays from 9 am to 7 pm except Thursday 1 pm to 7 pm, and on Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm.
Today, the stock includes over 880 000 books, 600 newspapers and periodicals. The majority of the stock is available 24 hours a day online in the library’s electronic database.
In addition, there are 12 branch libraries throughout the city.
The library building consists of a ground floor, and four upper floors.
A children's department with an open shelf system and audio-visual equipment is located on the ground floor and is intended mainly for children aged 6-14.
Floor 1 houses the arts and music department, comprising a large collection of art books, a music and record library, a wide collection of other audio-visual materials and a studio with simultaneous listening channels. The reading hall regularly accommodates fine art exhibitions as well as classical music concerts with the participation of artists and performers from Szeged. On this floor one can also find the periodicals reading room where current issues are accessible on open shelves; these, however, cannot be borrowed.
Visitors are most welcome to our comfortable computer and Internet room.
Floor 2 offers approximately 130 000 volumes of reading material, mainly literature and non-fiction, which are stored on open shelves. Readers can find a rich variety of modern literature in English courtesy of the British Council.
In addition to these three floors, which serve general cultural and educational needs, there is Floor 3, which provides for scholarly and scientific requirements primarily. It is here that books not intended for borrowing and some old issues of periodicals can be read; here, too, are catalogues, and special collections which are for in-house use.
Manuscripts -- This is a collection of mainly 20th-century literary letters and manuscripts pertaining to Szeged. The material concerning Szeged’s great 20th century poet, Gyula Juhász is of special importance.
The Somogyi Memorial Library
This comprises a selected version of the founder's collection in a room furnished with the original library furniture. The stock contains 10 000 volumes dating from before 1800, all arranged according to the original cataloguing order. (Rarities that were acquired later by the library are also kept here. One such subcollection is formed by remaining items from the library of András Dugonics, the Szeged scholar and writer). The only codex in the Somogyi Library is an ornamental missal written on parchment in a monastery near Prague in 1492. Of the 36 incunabula existing in the collection, the oldest one is Historia Scholastica by Petrus Comestor, printed in Augsburg in 1473. The antiqua collection, with its circa 340 volumes, is made up of products from the most famous printing houses of the 16th century. 312 old Hungarian books exist in the collection dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, with the oldest volume being a Postilla by György Kulcsár, printed in Hungarian in 1574.
There are some unique English language-related rarities in the collection such as a diary-like account of the re-conquest of Buda in 1686 (An Historical Description of the Glorious Conquest of the City of Buda. London, 1686); the Latin publications of the works of Milton and Newton; the litographed plates of the famous Assyrian LionHunt relief found in the British Museum (A. Henry Layard: The Monuments of Nineveh. London, 1849); as well as the Tibetan-English dictionary by Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, which is of special science-historical significance (Essays Towards a Dictionary Tibetan and English. Calcutta, 1834).
The Local Collection contains, among others, posters, leaflets and tracts providing research material for local historians.
The Esperanto Collection (Hungarlanda Esperanto Muzeo kaj Biblioteko) has been functioning since 1960; it contains 3000 books and 200 periodicals.
The Vasváry Collection, donated in 1972 by the American pastor Ödön Vasváry, an expatriot of Szeged, is the most comprehensive collection in Hungary concerning Hungarian Americans. One unique item in the collection is a three-volume description of Hungary in the Age of Reform, written by an English traveller, Julia Pardoe (1806–1862) (The City of the Magyar or Hungary and her Institutions in 1839-40. London, 1840)
Periodicals and Newspapers
There are some 2000 kinds of periodicals ranging from the earliest ones in Hungary to some of the latest Hungarian and international issues. The richest and most valuable part of this collection is represented by a sub-section of early Szeged newspapers.
The Ethnic collection is on Floor 2, 1 and on the ground floor, comprising fiction and non-fiction material of Hungary’s thirteen ethnic minorities (both in the original languages and in Hungarian) as well as periodicals in minority languages
Vasváry Ödön református lelkész, az amerikai magyarság történetének kutatója, 1972. május 16-án Washingtonban kelt adománylevelében szülővárosa könyvtárára hagyta nagyértékű gyűjteményét.