In 1926 there was a library in the City Museum in Bielsko which boasted 400 books. In 1930s the book collection of the library was constantly growing under the watchful eye of the city major, Dr Franciszek Przybyła. The museum collections and the library archive were taken care of by a full-time curator. They were open to readers on Sundays and during holidays from 10.00 a.m. till 12.00 a.m. and on demand for a determined fee. In January and February 1945, as a result of military actions, they were devastated and scattered around the area, and all the catalogues went missing, which made it impossible to recollect and win the books back later on.
Yet, in Autumn 1945 it became possible to create a museum and library collection of a serious historical and academic value, using the abandoned, post-German property. The archives of the Sulkowski dukes were taken over by the State Archives and delivered to Pszczyna. The Provincial Centre of Book Collections in Katowice run by Dr Franciszek Szymiczek carried out a prompt selection of the remaining collections and took away chosen works from Bielsko (old prints, manuscripts and municipal documents – approximately 2 thousand copies).
The current library resources (approximately 13 thousand volumes) have been divided into three categories: General, Special (64 old prints – published before 1800) and Untypical Collections.
One of the most interesting works is Con Dichiarationi… (Sonnets and poems) by Petrarka published in Venice in 1564, embossed in the printing house of a master artist, Nicolo Apresso. The book contains six xylographs and a beautiful printer’s emblem.
Another interesting item is a print published in Wittenberg in 1539 – since there is no title page, we can only surmise that this is Rutschlag von der Kirchen... by Marcin Luter. In the area of cartography, the best representative of the collection is an atlas of J.Ch. Herenberg, containing 19 maps coming from the period between 1743 and 1776, published in Nuremberg (manually painted copperplate engravings). A curious piece of art is represented by a manuscript, the so-called Inwentarz wilamowski (Inventory of Wilamowice of the church in Pisarzowice), whose records began in 1636 and were kept until around 1725, providing plenty of invaluable information (the inventory of St. Martin’s Church in Pisarzowice and lists of people baptized in that church).
The library is used predominantly by the employees of the Museum who need it in their daily work and then also by people writing their academic dissertations.