Jump to Navigation

The History of the College Library

Nyomtatóbarát változatSend by emailPDF változat


Rövid kronológiai áttekintés


  • 1538 - a Kollégium alapításának éve.
  • 1706 - Az első jegyzékszerű könyvtári katalógus.
  • 1744 - Piskárkosi Szilágyi Sámuel professzort nevezték ki a könyvtár első igazgatójának (bibliothecae praefectus).
  • 1796 - Kazzay Sámuel debreceni gyógyszerész bibliofil gyűjteményével gazdagodott a könyvtár.
  • 1803-1816 - A nagy tűzvész után épült új épületben a könyvtár is helyet kapott.
  • 1870k. - A 20 osztályból álló könyvtári rendszer és a lapkatalógus bevezetése.
  • 1890 - A Kollégiumban megnyílt a város első nyilvános olvasóterme.
  • 1951 - A cédulakatalógus felváltotta a korábbi lapkatalógust.
  • 1994 - A számítógépes katalogizálás bevezetése.
  • 1998 - A nagykönyvtári Kiállítóterem felújítása.
  • 2011 - Az épület déli szárnyának rekonstrukciója



According to the local tradition the College was founded in 1538. This is the time when the forming reformed church took over the school of the city. Evidently, the school owned books used in everyday teaching from its very beginning, but no written source has remained to confirm it. The oldest books of the present collection were in the College's possession in the second half of the 1600's.

The first booklist serving as a library catalogue dates from 1706. Since then the acquisition lists are complete and continuous to the present. The library of the College formed according to the Wittembergian example was in the use of the students. Usage of books was ensured by the so called bibliothecarius ordinarius, a responsible student elected by the community of students, and his helpers. They catalogued and augmented the collection, bound the books and managed book borrowings in a few hours weekly. (From 1751 their service time was on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1.00 to 3.00 p.m.)


The collection was build according to the needs of the College. They acquired resourses and handbooks for Bible study, writings of the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Melanchton and their followers), classical works of Humanist authors in the original Latin and Greek languages, philosophical and theological essays and other textbooks for teaching. The collection acquires an encyclopedical totality from the 18th century, this is when the presence of natural sciences (mathematics, physics, geography, health science, astronomy) raises to a significant proportion.

Professor Sámuel Piskárkosi Szilágyi was appointed head of the library (bibliotheca praefectus) in the middle of the 18th century. During the following centuries professors of outstanding performance succeeded him in his office: István Hatvani, Miklós Sinai, Ézsaiás Budai, József Lugossy, Sándor Imre, Zsigmond Varga and László Módis.

The big fire of 1802 caused serious damages to the College. The library, consisting of 15,000 volumes by then, was rescued by students not fearing to risk their lives in the flames. The library was allocated two twin halls on the second floor of the south wing of the new building erected after the big fire. The classicist furniture is the work of József Dohányosi, master of joinery from Debrecen. Today it is the Exposition Hall of the College Library, and as a result of a restauration in 1998, it is wearing the green-black-golden colours, tricolour of the College.


From the year of the Compromise (1867) the College planned to open a public reading room which eventually was achieved at 15th February of 1890 as a result of the joint efforts of the Church District and the City Council. The reading room offered 7,430 volumes for the public with opening hours from 3.00 to 6.00 p.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Many scientific essays, books and dissertations came into being on the spot, its collection is a substantial resource for university researchers up to the present.

By the end of the 1870's a new classification has been introduced, that remained in use till 1951. There were 20 subject groups named according to the alphabet. Card catalogues have been used since 1951. The library has been building an online public access catalogue since 1994.


Today, our collection consists of 560,000 documents, among which there are 200 different serial titles for public access. However, access to documents apart from the General Collection require a research permit, and book borrowing is also restricted to certain reader groups.

Our Manuscript Collection holds old written Hungarian literary records, the most famous is the Debreceni kódex (Codex of Debrecen) and the Lugossy Codex. Our most remarkable 16th century foreign editions are a Luther-Bible illustrated by a Lucas Cranach-disciple and a „libri catenati”, that is a chained book, and several unique copies of old Hungarian prints.

For more details please check the relevant chapters of the volume: „Debreceni Református Kollégium története” [History of the Reformed College of Debrecen].



by Dr. Radut.