Breakthroughs. The emergence and spread of public libraries In Hungary
The public library idea appeared first in a proposition (Memorandum...) by Ervin Szabó prepared in 1910. He was a decisive character of Hungarian library history, whose name was assumed by the metropolitan library maintained by the city. Ervin Szabó intended to turn the City Council's official library a public library system with a huge central library and branch libraries after the Anglo-Saxon library pattern. His ideas were realised in a more modest form (a central library in an old building with five deposit libraries) due to financial and political reasons.
Studying Hungarian librarianship in the first years of the 1900s, efforts for the transplantation of the public library idea can be followed. Leading librarians were well acquainted with foreign literature, and modern trends in librarianship. Ervin Szabó's plans have only partially been realised, but the Metropolitan Public Library and its branch libraries are still working (as the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library). From the 1920s the idea of the people's library had a stronger impact on Hungarian librarianship. In the democratic era between 1945 and 1948 Anglo-Saxon experiences were utilised once again in the planning of public library provision. After 1949 socialist library policy prevailed (a great number of units with poor choice, focusing on lending). In the 1960s, in a more moderate political climate, there was a revival of Ervin Szabó's intellectual heritage laying the foundations of the modern public library model.
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