‘Ego librarista’. The activity of Jan Of Skawina as a librarian at the Faculty of Law of the University of Kraków Cover Image

„Ego librarista”. Działalność Jana Ze Skawiny jako bibliotekarza na Wydziale Prawa Uniwersytetu Krakowskiego
‘Ego librarista’. The activity of Jan Of Skawina as a librarian at the Faculty of Law of the University of Kraków

Author(s): Wojciech Świeboda
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies, General Reference Works, Theology and Religion
Published by: Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II - Wydział Teologii
Keywords: Jan of Skawina; the University of Kraków; Faculty of Law; library; medieval manuscripts

Summary/Abstract: The article is devoted to the figure of Jan of Skawina (†1520), a doctor and professor of canon law, librarian of the Faculty of Law of the University of Krakow. Although he was not one of the leading or distinguished figures from among the group of Polish scholars at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries and his scientific legacy has not been preserved, he nevertheless showed particular zeal, as the guardian of the library book collection, for the other professors who held the position of librarian. Between 1501 and 1515 he obtained and systematized many works on the subject of law or preaching for the benefit of the faculty library, which were intended as aids to professors and law students. In retrospect, an invaluable achievement of the scholar from Kraków was inserting notes indicating that the manuscripts belonged to the collection of the Law College. These notes not only allow the codes to be assigned unambiguously to the Collegium Iuridicum library, but also inform about the previous owners and about the method and date of obtaining a given copy. Out of 46 preserved medieval books of the Faculty of Law, 39 have notes inscribed by his hand. Jan of Skawina was not only a book keeper but also a donor of several manuscripts. Owing to his efforts, several professors of law and members of Jan’s family passed on their books in their will to the Faculty of Law. In the face of the tragic fire of the Collegium Iuridicum building in 1455, Jan of Skawina’s efforts to acquire new works facilitated a partial reconstruction of the jurist library. These were mainly legal and theological works, which could serve as an aid to the work of preaching. A casual review of the works in the book collection of the Faculty of Law allows us to conclude that the selection of the letters obtained or offered by Jan of Skawina was not accidental. Seemingly modest testimonies of Jan of Skawina’s activity as a librarian turn out to be invaluable for learning about the resources and organization of the library of the Law College. The notes he has included in his manuscripts are a very important source of information about the medieval Faculty of Law of the University of Kraków. They also prove that the position of librarian did not have to be treated by university professors as a burden, but could be seen as a kind of distinction. Jan of Skawina held a number of important church and university posts, and yet he wrote about himself modestly, but with pride, using the term ‘librarista’.

  • Issue Year: 2020
  • Issue No: 113
  • Page Range: 407-429
  • Page Count: 23
  • Language: Polish