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University of Warsaw

Institute of Information and Book Studies
University of Warsaw

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History of the Institute

      The Institut of Information and Book Studies at the University of Warsaw (IIBS UW) is one of the oldest centers of academic education of information specialists and librarians in Poland. The tradition of library and book studies at our school reaches almost to the beginnings of the University and was initiated by lectures of Joachim Lelewel (1820 - 1821), and Karol Estreicher (1865 - 1868). In 1951 the Chair of Book Studies at WU was established and Professor Aleksander Birkenmajer was appointed as its first incumbent. During the approximately 50 years of its existence the center had turned from a small section into a full scale university department conducting a wide array of research as well as multi level didactic activity. Nowadays ISIBS WU is the biggest institution in Poland training information specialists at university level, offering the possibility of gaining the MA degree in book studies and information science. Since 1997/98 it also offers the BA degree in this domain. In 1999 the unitary 5-year curriculum was broken up into two independent cycles: three-year BA and two-year MA studies. Moreover, the Department runs three types of postgraduate studies and doctoral seminars. At present there are 800 students altogether at the Institute, including 250 doing full-time studies, 500 attending extra-mural courses and 150 in postgraduate studies. At the Institute there are 38 full-time and 3 part-time research and didactic workers - including 16 full professors.

      From its beginning the Warsaw Chair of Book Studies has specialized mainly in research concerning problems of the contemporary book and information institutions and has trained its students in this field. In the mid 1960's the scope of research and training was widened to encompass information problems, which ever since are becoming the focus of the Institute. In 1968 the Chair was transformed into the Institut of Book Studies and Information within the Faculty of History of the WU. In 1997, after initiating the new curriculum aimed especially at the problems of information management and information activity in various circles of social, scientific and economic life, the name of the Institute acquired its current form.

      The specialization we are working in is over 3500 years old. Its history began in times when first collections of clay tablets and papyrus rolls were gathered in temples and palaces of ancient rulers, enabling storage and retrieval of information substantial for contemporary societies. Today, the significance of access to information for the progress of the society is generally known and widely appreciated. The formation of the information society is happening today, which means that access to information already is and will be the decisive factor in achieving success in almost every domain of human activity. Certainly in our times the awereness of the importance of information has become a widely known phenomenon. The awareness of the right of every individual to information as well as the necessity to organize this access has become a major factor in the contemporary world. It is estimated that in the developed countries more than a half of adult population work in information related jobs, i.e. in institutions connected with formation, organization, transformation and dissemination of information. Librarians and information specialists belong to this dynamically developing group of employees, who are often referred to as information professionals.

      Contemporary librarians and information specialists form the core of the information professionals. That is how they are viewed in the world and we want them to be seen in this way in Poland as well, though there is still a lot to be done. Our basic mission is to satisfy the needs connected with researching and providing information to every social group - from school-children to the elderly, to experts in every scientific, economic and social domain. Our task is to assure wide access to information, transmission of information between its producer and receiver, protection of property rights, copyright, privacy etc. This mission is realized in different ways: by finding information needs, by creating information resources, by designing and implementation of instruments and methods for information organizations, by elaborating and providing different types of information environment. The latter are: libraries, centers and information branches of various institutions and organizations, and information computer networks. In managing information resources a wide range of carriers is used, from manuscripts, old prints, modern books magazines, and microforms to CD-ROMs, multimedial documents, hypertext and data bases.

      From a contemporary librarian and information worker one can demand complex, specialist qualifications and abilities of dynamic transformation of the information environment. The information control skills, that we are training our students in, is highly valued on the contemporary job market. We are convinced that the education programs we offer provide our graduates with the potential to find attractive, highly paid jobs. Our graduates can pursue their careers in various directions, choosing one of ever-multiplying information specializations: information analyst, reading animator, teacher-librarian, scientific librarian, bibliotherapeutist, system librarian, information broker, information systems designer, indexator, classifier, information consultant, information manager and many more, which arise in answer to the differentiation of the information needs in a democratic society and its institutions.


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