The most important library in Krakow is the Jagiellonian Library. Thanks to a rich collection of Polish prints, it is considered to be a national library. It assembles and archives all Polish prints published in Poland and abroad. It boasts a rich collection of historical books, the creation of which was connected with the activity of the Krakow Academy. It collects the most valuable and the oldest relics of the Polish language and Polish literature, including the record of Bogurodzica – a war song of the Polish knighthood dating back to 1408, Jan Długosz’s manuscripts, as well as Liber viginti artium, i.e. The Book of Twenty Arts with an alleged imprint of Satan’s paw. The library’s collection also includes manuscripts of Nicolaus Copernicus’ De revolutionibus… dating back to 1543, Frédéric Chopin’s famous Scherzo in E Major, Stanisław Wyspiański’s The Wedding, and the works of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Stanisław Moniuszko.
After World War II, a dynamic inflow of collection items to the Jagiellonian Library occurred (up to 40,000 volumes a year), particularly of the latest publications of the time. In 1969, the archiving of Polish prints began; every one of two mandatory copies received from publishing houses was used for that purpose, and since 1996, the library has also archived audiovisual and electronic documents.
The library has come into possession of the so-called “Berlinka” Prussian Library. It is a collection of the most valuable historic items of European culture. The works of the Prussian State Library, evacuated from Berlin during World War II for fear of air raids, first went to Książ, and from there to Krzeszów, where they were found after the war by teams of Polish museologists and librarians searching for works stolen by the Germans, and from where they were moved to Krakow in secret from the Red Army. The collection covers several hundred musical manuscripts, including more than a hundred scores by Mozart, several dozen by Beethoven and Bach, as well as some by Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, as well as letters of Luther, Dürer, Leibniz, Goethe, Kleist, the brothers Grimm, Hegel, Alexander von Humboldt, and his brother Wilhelm.
The Jagiellonian Library possesses a large collection of underground publications. It takes care of them together with the Foundation of the Centre for the Documentation of Pro-Independence Acts. The more important underground books published in Krakow and included in the collection of the Jagiellonian Library are: Czesław Miłosz’s Where the Sun Rises and Where it Sets (published by NIW, 1979), Stanisław Barańczak’s collection of essays Ethics and Poetics (published by ABC, 1981), Alain Besançon’s Short Treatise on Sovietology (published by Kos, 1981), Albert Camus’ The Rebel (published by Oficyna Literacka, 1983), and Joseph Brodsky’s A Selection of Poetry (published by Oficyna Literacka, 1985).
The total collection of the Jagiellonian Library amounts to 7,134,635 titles (as of the 31st of December 2012).