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The ICL Centre for Information on Literary Studies was formed in the first half of the 1990s out of the Library, the Old Czech Archive and a small team of biographers, with the aim of creating a centre providing comprehensive information on literary studies. Centre services are used not only by Institute staff, but also by interested parties from outside the Institute. Apart from supplementing and working on documents and information services, the Centre also primarily focuses at all its sections (the Library, Archives and Bibliography Section) on converting documents into electronic format and progressively incorporating them on new media.


The Institute for Czech Literature Library is the only library in the Czech Republic specializing in the study of Czech literature, having been systematically built up since 1949. Its substantial collections include the old Umělecká beseda fonds, which came to the Institute after that establishment was closed down following World War Two. In 1992 the Czech Studies Library acquired preserved fonds from the former Department of Western Literatures and the Department for the Study of Czech Drama at the ASCR Institute of Czech and World Literature. The entire Institute Library collection nowadays has over 140,000 volumes, of which the Czech studies section has nearly 100,000 volumes, the world literature section 40,000 volumes and the drama section 12,000 volumes. The library comprises three basic collections of fonds: fiction, non-fiction and journals. The Czech Fiction Section collects first editions of works by Czech authors, and other editions are only added if they are critical editions, collected or selected writings. The Non-Fiction Section includes literary historical, theoretical and textological monographs on authors, seminal works on the history of world literature, reference-style literature (literary dictionaries, universal and special encyclopedias, language dictionaries and bibliographies) and seminal works in the social sciences, such as aesthetics, philosophy, history, sociology, art, drama, film, music, linguistics, psychology, ethnography, religion, topography and the like. The collection of journals focuses on Czech literary, literary studies, cultural and social journals (and selectively, foreign journals with the same content) and journals from related disciplines, e.g. philosophy, aesthetics, linguistics, history, sociology and the like. The Western Literatures Library collection has particularly engaged in the acquisition of  literary historical and theoretical works, original fiction and literary journals. The book and journal collection at the drama library concentrates on theoretical literature relating to the study of Czech drama, the texts of stage plays and journals from the field.

Library catalogues

The Czech Studies Section of the Institute Library collection was made publicly available under Ministry of Education Grant No. 1N04172 in 2004-2008 in the T Series (Tinlib) library database. The Umělecká beseda collection is was recatalogized in 2009 and 2010. The digitization of the catalogue continues with the retrospective recataloguing of closed library collections deposited at the Institute: the Department for the Study of Czech Drama collection and that of the former ASCR Institute of Czech and World Literature Department of Western Literatures. These are currently only available in card-index form.

Bibliography of Czech literary studies

In several collections following on one from the other, the literary studies bibliography records all modern era Czech literature from the early National Revival to the present.

Retrospective bibliography (to 1945)

The 1770-1945 (1948) period is covered by the retrospective bibliographical card-index, which contains approximately two million annotated records from the literary and cultural journals published on Bohemian, Moravian and Silesian territory in Czech and German (approximately 530 periodical titles). Excerpts include responses to Czech literary output of the period in question, as well as primary works (journal contributions by authors and translators), reviews of foreign literature, references to photography and portrayals of Czech writers in print, subject (i.e. not personal) references and contributions published under the pseudonyms and initials of previously unidentified authors. The subject section of the retrospective bibliography (with more than 90,000 entries) was being transcribed to the electronic bibliographical database, but this transcription was only partially completed and is currently available as the RET database here. Under Ministry of Education Grant No. VZ09004, access is currently being provided to the scanned card-index catalogue.

Bibliography of Czech literary studies (since 1961)

The Bibliography of Czech literary studies records Czech literary studies output from 1961 to the present (the basis for the 1961-1980 period is transcribed Czech Literary Studies – Czech Studies bibliographical almanacs, and for the period from 1981 to the present the literary studies bibliography is digital only). The excerpt base of this annotated bibliography is made up of literary studies and literary criticism publications (original and in translation), specialist literature from other social sciences involved in literary issues, forewords and postscripts from works of Czech fiction, collections of papers (from universities and conferences and relating to national history etc), specialist literary journals, general cultural and social sciences journals and dailies. It is conceived as a secondary bibliography and its profile differs from that of a retrospective bibliography in that it does not follow primary works (fiction, translations of fiction, texts by those involved in Czech literature but not involving broadly defined literary issues, and the like). The database is revised and supplemented on an ongoing basis and in the broader view it is also planned to work on the 1945-1960 period, which has hitherto been partially covered at least in published bibliographical summaries and reference works (especially Kunc, Jaroslav: Czech Literary Bibliography 1945-1963 I-III;  A Bibliography of Czech Literary Studies 1945-1955 and A Czechoslovak Bibliographical Catalogue, published since 1953), available at the Institute study room.

Biographical Archive

The Biographical Archive comprises a collection of documents on prominent figures involved in Czech literature, which has been gathered at the Institute since the 1960s, primarily as part of lexicographical work.  It includes extracts, excerpts and biographical material (questionnaires, correspondence and the like). Since 1990 staff have supplemented  it on an ongoing basis with their own excerption, subsequently verifying the information at archives, registry offices and the like. These files go to build up the Biographical Database of Czech Literary Figures, detailing basic biographical data, pseudonyms, initials and areas of activity. In the 2004-2008 period this database started to be digitized under Ministry of Education Grant Project 1N04172 and its supplementation and provision of online access will continue in future years – from 2009 to 2011 with the support of Ministry of Education Grant Project VZ09001.

Old Czech Collection

The Old Czech Collection contains a set of microfilms and photocopies of Old Czech manuscripts and prints from fonds both at home and abroad (with more than 163,000 microfilm fields and more than 155,000 photocopies). Since the mid-1990s it has been preserved and utilized as an often unique study source for Institute tasks and for external researchers including those from abroad.

Current projects

Czech Literary Bibliography (2020–2022)

The Czech Literary Bibliography is a basic research infrastructure for Czech literary studies and associated humanities disciplines. Its objective on an ongoing basis is to process, edit, update and present online a unique set of bibliographical and other knowledge databases, consistently mapping out literary activities and literary studies in the Czech lands and the circulation of Czech literature abroad from the origins of the National Revival to the most recent present-day events, regardless of language, format and medium. All CLB data is free online, at the disposal of all users in open access mode via the internet. CLB activities today go far beyond elementary database processing. They also include a very broad portfolio of activities extending from development and adaptation of software tools presenting and analysing bibliographical data, and its own research whether bibliographical, or involving research into digital humanities and in recently established bibliographical data science, as well as other forms of scholarly communication (publication, organization of lectures and workshops and so forth), tuition and tutorials for students, particularly at universities, digitization (particularly card index digitization) and PR activities and interaction with user communities.

INDIHU - development of the tools and infrastructure for the digital humanities (2017–2021)

The main goal of the project is to develop the tools and necessary infrastructure for the digital humanities, such as software for the virtual exhibitions, virtual knowledge register, online accessible OCR interface and central database solution.

Czech Literary Internet (2017–2021)

This project aims to research Czech literature on the internet and to create a primary information infrastructure for this dynamically growing field. The project will be dealt with along three basic key-activity axes, i.e. (a) compiling an analytical bibliography of the Czech literary internet; (b) developing software tools for analysing this data; (c) scholarly research into this material with the stress on the relationship between literature and new media, as well as on the internet and readership.

Global Trajectories of Czech Literature since 1945 (Ondřej Vimr, Czech Science Foundation 2020–2022)

By combining large-scale Big Data informed analysis and qualitative methods of translation sociology and history, this project aims to map the global circulation of Czech literature in book form since 1945. To analyse literary flows, we will develop concepts of translation channels and individual trajectories and challenge the binary  opposition of official vs. non-official Czech literature during the Cold War era. We will propose a more balanced, dynamic and multi-layered model that will account for individual experiences and decisions as well as the diversity of Czech literature and its international circulation patterns in turbulent post-WWII Europe, including the Cold War, the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, globalisation and the ongoing European integration. Qualitative studies will explore the links between "distant reading" and agency-based or text-based analyses of translation. This project will provide a new and comprehensive understanding of the recent history of Czech literature in translation and explore innovative methods of investigating global literary flows and systems.