National and University Library in Zagreb Day 2021

Objavljeno 16.2.2021.

A special celebratory programme marking the 2021 National and University Library in Zagreb Day will be held on 22 February 2021, starting at 12.00, on which occasion the Library will also mark the 414th anniversary of its existence. In view of the current circumstances relating to the COVID-19 epidemic, this year’s celebration will be held in the presence of a limited audience and for the first time be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page.

The programme will include the participation of the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković, Croatian Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and Croatian Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs. The Director General of the National and University Library in Zagreb Ivanka Stričević will present the Library’s ongoing projects and activities and announce the winners of the 2020 National and University Library in Zagreb Awards.

Since the year 2021 in Croatia has been declared the year of reading (Godina čitanja), the celebration will include readings of verses by distinguished Croatian writers by the members of the Library’s staff Nada Mihaljević, Dr Željka Lovrenčić, Antonija Filipeti, Tomislav Čop, Stevo Leskarac and Tomica Vrbanc.

The National and University Library in Zagreb Day is marked in memory of 22 February 1483, the day of the printing of the first book in the Croatian language, a missal entitled Misal po zakonu rimskoga dvora. The Library’s logotype, the letter of the angular Glagolitic alphabet Iže, i.e. the transliterated Latin letter ‘I’, has been taken over precisely from Misal, the oldest incunabulum in the Croatian language.

Misal was the first book in Europe not printed in the Latin alphabet, but in the Croatian alphabet and language, which gives it immense significance in the context of Croatia’s cultural heritage, as well as that of the entire Europe. Published on the day of the Chair of St Peter, which has been observed since the 4th century in celebration of the unity of the Church built on the apostle Peter, its place of publication and publisher have so far not been established.

The missal was printed in the Glagolitic script, the alphabet of medieval Croatia, which began to be used during the 9th and 10th centuries. The style of it used in Misal is angular Glagolitic, which developed from the older, round Glagolitic script. It is often also referred to as uncial, owing to its upright and spaced letters, whose sophistication made them particularly suited for liturgical texts.

There are currently only 11 incomplete copies of Misal, six of which are located in Croatia, and five abroad. Two copies are preserved in the Manuscripts and Old Books Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb, another two are located at the Ksaver Monastery of Third Order Franciscans in Zagreb, one is part of the collection of the Library of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the last of six copies preserved in Croatia is in the Library of the Dominican Monastery in Bol, on the island of Brač. The remaining five copies, located abroad, are preserved at the Vatican Library in Rome, Library of Congress in Washington, National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg and Austrian National Library in Vienna.

The Misal’s digital version is available on Glagoljica.hr, a web portal of the National and University Library in Zagreb bringing together the digitised works of the Croatian Glagolitic tradition preserved in various heritage institutions in Croatia and abroad.

Through its dedicated efforts in assembling, ensuring long-term preservation and promoting Croatia’s written heritage and successfully responding to challenges posed by the digital age, the National and University Library in Zagreb proved itself the central institution od Croatian culture, science and education and thus worthy of yet another great celebration.