In 2022, 10 years have passed since the first reader entered the Scientific Information Center and Academic Library. How has the Open Library fit into the academic space over the past decade, and how has it defined its presence in the Katowice Cultural District, the emerging Science City, or on the map of Silesia? Reflections on the Symbolic Meanings of the Library – Specific, Micro and World at the Same Time Shared by Prof. Doctor Hub. Dariush Pawelek, Director of CINiB.

a. Doctor Hub. Dariush Bawlik, Director of the Center for Scientific Information and Academic Library

in Babylon library Jorge Luis Borges wrote one of the most widely cited, usually treatises on the infinity of possibilities for the world of ideas and signs: “The universe (which others call the library).” The symbolic library appears in this vision as a synonym for non-knowledge, the utter perfection that eludes a single human experience.

Closer to Earth, the name of an omen, even if it stays forever, as Chislau Muesch pointed out, “beyond the earth,” seems to be the concept of equality between the Library and the world—identical with “our whole earth,” which the poet said wanted to embrace and give it a place in his consciousness. On the first anniversary of CINiB’s work, in October 2013, together with the Art Institute of Cieszyn, we announced a competition for students to design a book board for a joint library between the University of Silesia and the University of Economics in Katowice. As many as 88 authors submitted, and they submitted 122 works. My attention was drawn to the work suggested by Ewa Brodney: the outline of our library, its facade, the altar covering the map of the world emerging from under it. This plaque was honored with a CINiB Director’s Award. It perfectly expresses, in my opinion, the paradox of any library whose purpose, to a greater or lesser extent, is to preserve the most complete record of the world.

Scientific Information Center and Academic Library

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Scientific Information Center and Academic Library

This task should seem redundant, for it can be accomplished, as Alberto Manguel points out, “only when the limits of the library coincide with the limits of the world itself.” But librarians, such as the cartographers of the empire described by Borges, still excelled at constructing a parallel universe. This is by no means a ridiculous endeavor, it can be encapsulated in an easy-to-simulate formula, derived from Baudrillard’s story about accuracy in science. He advocated the difference that “forms the poetry of the map and the magic of a region, the magic of a concept and the magic of reality.” Because the library, striving to be like the world, senses the distance between object and sign, opening up space for critical thinking and interpretation, and drawing attention to the practical nature of reality built into the world of linguistic ideas.

Because, as Alberto Manguel so brilliantly said, the author of the already quoted book The library at night: No matter how enticing the dream of a recognizable world made of paper and a meaningful universe made of words, a library, even if huge in its dimensions or ambitious and limitless in its scope, can never offer us the ‘real’ world in what extent Realism of the worlds of daily suffering and happiness. Rather, it gives us a negotiable picture of this real world, which (in the words of the French critic Jean Rhodeau) “gently allows us to understand” it, and Possibility The experience, perception, and memory of something that can be felt in the story or guessed through poetic or philosophical reasoning.”

The “real world picture” that we can negotiate thanks to the library is available in many forms of its existence. In his essay, Manguel points out fifteen different ways and meanings of libraries that have been historically formed: myth, order, space, force, shadow, form, chance, workshop, mind, island, survival, forgetfulness, imagination, identity, and home. It is difficult to escape the conviction that almost every library is, in some way, the sum of all these meanings, although, of course, they define the dominant elements differently. In each there is an echo of the legend of Alexandria, and in each of them the reader may feel the possibility of becoming at home. In the case of CINiB, shape and space play an important role. But in this case also, even a simple rectangular plan bears the memory of ancient solutions, Greek or Roman architecture, and also of the oldest libraries discovered among the monuments. So the look is not without legend. Likewise, there is a space with free access to shelves with groups. Even such a modern assumption, especially in the academic world, about the need to treat the library as an educational center has its roots in Alexandria. Fortunately, there are legends that do not embarrass, but inspire action, open imagination. Ten years of CINiB activity is the best evidence in this case. It is also ten years of overcoming limitations in envisioning the functions and possibilities of the academic library. And the limited space, which was most evident during the months of the pandemic, when librarians prepared and distributed to readers, anywhere in the world, electronic copies of necessary documents in an unprecedented quantity. In the preface to his book on Miłosz, Jan Błoński writes that Miłosz was “like the world” because he “did not allow himself to be closed off even in the most subtle of formulas”. I hope this determinant of universality will allow us to describe the nature of our library in the decades to come.

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