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60th IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 21-27, 1994

Five Years of Freedom in Culture in the Polish Experience

Jadwiga Kolodziejska
Instytut Ksiazki i Czytelnictwa (The Book and Reading Institute), Poland


The purposes of this report are: characterization of the social processes that nowadays effect and determine the situation of the book, reading, and public libraries in Poland. An attempt at answering several questions that have resulted from the socioeconomic changes and transformations brought by the year 1989 and their significance to the development of culture. Indication of the relations between publishing market and dissemination of the book and differentiation of the reading needs.



Keywords: From real socialism to democracy. Censorship and the book market. The Territorial Self Government Act. Liberalism in economy and culture. Traditional and commercial culture. Cultural policy. Books and the mass media. Development of reading and closing down of libraries.

The purposes of this study are:

  1. characterisation of the social processes that nowadays affect and determine the situation of the book, reading, and public libraries in Poland;
  2. an attempt at answering several questions that have resulted from the socioeconomic changes and transformations brought by the year 1989 and their significance to the development of culture;
  3. indication of the relations between publishing market and dissemination of the book and differentiation of the reading needs.

The starting point for our considerations is a wider structural context that comprises politics, ideas, economy, education, mass media, in other words all the components that make up the foundation of the development of the reading treated as one of the key manifestations of cultural activity of both an individual and social groups alike.

Attempts characterising our contemporary social processes is rendered difficult for a number of reasons, viz.:

A favorable circumstance, on the other hand, is the availablity of numerous statistical sources, results of studies carried out at the Book and Reading Institute, and substantial materials published in the periodical press. All the foregoing has made it possible to continue the discussion of the previously published study which has constituted an attempt at approaching the issues related to the book, reading and libraries on the verge of freedom brought by the year 1989 [l].

2. Political Structures in 1989

In the European experience the revolution is associated with barricades, conquest of the Bastille or the Winter Palace, with overthrowing of royal or czarist power, setting free political prisoners, with the slogans of equality, liberty and fraternity. Particularly the image of the French Revolution, immortalised in hundreds of historical works, in literature and painting, keeps on functioning in people's mind by being passed on from generation to generation. In Poland La Marseillaise calls to one's mind associations with the struggle for freedom, just like the text of the Varsovienne (incidentally written by a Frenchman, C. Delavigne), the national song, second to the national anthem, sung for the first time during the November Insurrection of 1830.

In an encyclopedic definition the revolution is a process of violent qualitative changes that bring about essential changeover of the existing status. This may lead to a forcefuit conquer of power, and violent social economic and political transformations; it may also involve culture or a part of it (e.g. customs, fashion), science and technology. Its milder form in transformation which means c ontrolled process of alterations and transmutations.

In the Polish social and political writings of the last five years the word transformation is used more often that revolution. One of the reasons for that is that in the past Poles fought primarily for political independence and freedom, while social changes were a second priority. What happened in 1989, however, has had some features of a revolution, and the transformations ensuring from them have been their consequence.

Despite a considerable social upheaval and involvement in the times between the spring of 1989 and the autumn of 1990, the transformation from an authoritarian to a democratic rule followed a peaceful route, and it was due to the elections to the Seym and the Senate on June 4, 1989. In that short period, the communist party, the exclusive ruler of the country, gave away the power to the great so cial movement of a political character, known under the name of Solidarnosc. Undoubtedly, this was a revolutionary act, even though no barricades were put up on the streets and the victory was not celebrated with mass demonstrations and ringing of the church bells. All in all, the revolution was effected in a rather unspectacular way. In consequence, the turning point of the revolution in 198 9 is fading away in the memory of many a Pole, in particular the younger ones. Along with it, also a number of some essential revolutionary changes that were brought about in that time.

Amidst these the takeover of power was of pivotal significance. Nearly overnight the monopolist communist party (The Polish United Workers' Party) lost its power, which has paved the way to plurality in political life. The party establishment that controlled all the key positions in administration, culture, science, health service, social organisations, etc., began being replaced by the pluralis tic political elites that originated primarily from Solidarity. The most spectacular example of transformations of political system in the Polish social realities as writes Eugeniusz Zielinski -- is the change from party nominations to the election of the top government authorities in general elections. A peculiarity of the manpower policy practiced by the autocratic regime in Poland was the ap pointment of communist party approved candidates to all the governmental and social posts. This procedure was provided for by the institution of party nomenclature, established by the ruling communist party, which specified the posts to be occupied by respective party units [2].

Prior to 1989 the top managerial positions in economy, administration, science and culture were occupied in 77% by the communist party members. Within the last five years the establishment was exchanged as a result of which 69% are new people that originate from highly skilled brainpower who formerly had no chances for promotion or an advance in their career [3].

The principle of appointing party members to managerial posts was particularly observed in culture. Until 1989 of the 49 managers of the voivoship and municipal libraries only one person was not a party member. Party members were General Manager of the National Library and Chairman of the Polish Librarian Association.

The party committees of all levels: in enterprises, communes, voivoships ceased ruling and lost their power. This used to be a highly developed organisational structure that doubled administrative structures. In large university, voivoship and public libraries, as well as in the National Library, the so-called basal party organisations were also operative. Their authorities were vast and compri sed the passing of opinions on wages and salaries of individuals, on their promotions, travelling abroad, etc.

The governmental administration had to share the range of power with local self government. The Territorial Self-Government Act of March 8, 1990 called into being the local self governmental communities. This was a vital issue for public libraries, as in accordance with the provisions of the Act the communes had among their responsibilities the upkeep of public libraries[4].

The breakthrough in culture has been the lift of censorship in April 1990. The consequences of this utterly revolutionary act to the book, reading and libraries will be treated at a greater length elsewhere in this study.

The activities along the economic reforms that lead to the development of market economy, thus the lift of the system of central distribution of goods and services, implementation of free prices, internal exchangeability of the Polish zloty, liberalisation of foreign trade -- all this has come to form the programme of reforms, the chief architect of which has been Leszek Balcerowicz. Curbing of i nflation which at that time was 359% must be considered the most tangible accomplishment. Privatisation of slate-owned enterprises, because of the necessity to draw up suitable legal acts, was moving at a much slower pace. The process is continuing up to date with considerable resistance. The promoter and masterminded of the changes in politics and economy have been the central government auth orities: The Seym, the Government and the President. It is those authorities that program the changes in systemic structures and endeavor to accomplish them. The society has so far not developed an infrastructure of its own to support these endeavors. Local government elections featured low attendance: the political parties, trade unions, social associations and organisations are active prima rily in large urban communities; the politically noninvolved local initiatives are very weak.

The foregoing setting is responsible for the fact that people with lower education are incapable of understanding the political contentions and arguments about the state's political pattern. Mass media have not up to date worked out any sound methods for making this knowledge more familiar to the public at large.

3. Social Changes

Economic transformations are paralleled by some changes in social structure. Their picture is unclear, yet the major trends can be made out. Nearly 44% of the total employed, which corresponds to 5.5 million people, work in private business. With the development of labor market the need for brainpower that is better qualified than before, with the knowledge of foreign languages, familiar with the computer, enterprising, independent, with initiative. Unemployment affects primarily persons with primary education, with low professional background. This favors the employment of primarily blue collar workers, yet not only them, on the so called labor black market. The private company owners, in particular those who employ few workers, can thereby avoid paying social security. In larg er private companies the workers, for fear of losing their jobs, are reluctant to set up the trade unions or to join them.

The lack of unequivocal law in this matter favors this socioeconomic pathology. The unemployed which are moonlighting or simply exploited by the employers, have little opportunities to participate in culture, manifested in the purchase of a book or a periodical. The academic libraries, voivoship public libraries, inclusive of the National Library that are subsidized from the state budget, canno t be staffed with highly tamed librarians. The main reason for that is that they cannot be paid more because of the salary restrictions. Even if there were some possibilities to apply varied salaries, a majority of the members of the community would not agree on their application. In the years 1987 1992, 12.3% librarians lost their jobs in public libraries. No information is available on the extent of the laid off staff in other type libraries, e.g. of the specialist kind. Concomitant with restructuring in industry, a number of institutions of that kind have been closed down. Part of the librarian staff found work; others have retired. At a high general unemployment index which in January amounted to 16%, the people with higher education background are doing pretty good under new circumstances. Unemployment among the higher school graduates equals merely 5%. This is important, as during the 45 years of communist ruling much has been done to undermine and degrade the work of the mind, by contrasting it to labor. In the librarian profession practice was constantly being opposed to theory, as being more valuable.

Today, four years later, one can clearly see that part of the brampower have financially bounced up from the bottom and occupy now a higher step of the social scale. These are chiefly people with a wide variety of educational background. The phenomenon, however, has also another face. The escape of younger generation brainpower from education, higher education schools, administration, and larg e libraries to private companies has an adverse effect on their organisation and efficiency, as part of those who remain do so because, being aged or not very active, they do not have any choice. Being thus negatively selected, they feel frustrated, uncertain, financially degraded and reluctant to any changes. This group that numbers today over 2 million employees is particularly vulnerable to egalitarian, claimant slogans, and hostile to those who want to make a career. It is immaterial whether these are the teachers who reject the reform in education, or the librarians reluctant to automation, or else employees of an office. It would be unfair, however, to overlook the fact that it is in this group that attempts are made at investing in education of children, buying books or borrowin g them from a library, reading periodicals, and somehow getting some understanding of politics and cultural life. In other words, they endeavor to maintain minimum material and cultural status. The so-called middle class, dreamt of by economic liberals, despite its multitude, is highly diversified and not always aware of their life goals. As expressed in words by Teresa Bogucka, they do not kn ow whether they should advocate economic liberalism, procure the government to implement customs barriers to curb competition, become rich and go away abroad, develop a company for the sake of their offsprings, or give money to cultural or charity purposes, or spend it for a lavish life. The behavior in this group is greatly diversified and there is evidence for that this group is in its incipie nt stage on the road to a creation of their own identity [5].

For 45 years communists used to convince workers, and to a lesser degree peasants who were private land owners, that they are a privileged, leading class. In the '70s even a concept of manufacturing industry workers' class came to gain ground. The rules of market economy were a severe, painful blow to both workers and farmers alike. The economic slump that has affected not only individual plan ts but likewise whole industries (coal, sulphur, textile industries) resulted in unemployment that came to be referred to as the structural unemployment characteristic of particular regions. A closedown of a factory employing 6000 workers in a 60,000 inhabitants town results in a town that is unemployment stricken. Such situations favour and create social pathologies (alcoholism, robbing, dr ugs) especially among the youths which are inherently less resistant to hardships of life, but on the other hand very vulnerable to the populist and nationalist slogans. ln giving preference for a few decades to the blue collar over white collar work, the communist regime at the same time was doing its best to preserve the structure of education with predominant primary school (eight years) plus a trade school (2 3 years). The consequence of it is such that in 1990 an estimated 62.2% of the society graduated from primary or trade school, 25.3% - from the secondary, while 6.7% from higher schools. The population with unfinished primary school or no education completed accounted for 6.1%.

Such a structure of education and educational background of the population is highly unfavorable for development of culture. Neither is it beneficial for the learning and understanding of what is going on in politics and economy. If for no other reason than the changes should not arouse animosity or hostility. To what an extent is it difficult to change the structure of Polish education, how mu ch is it unfit for the transformation process in economy is evidenced i.a. by the fact that within one of the coIlieries to be closed down, a trade school that trains future miners is still in operation, in other words, the school that educates future candidate for the unemployed.

In the past the reading in the countryside used to lead to, and allowed to complete a secondary and higher school, thus to get promoted to the status of a rural white-collar worker (usually a teacher, priest or commune officer)[6]. The large scale program of general primary school education launched after the World War II (to have included ca. 3.5 million people) and scholarisation underlay the m ulti million migration from the farms to industry.

As far back as the '70s the process visibly declined, while today we witness the reversal: the ones who lose their jobs in industry come back to the countryside. Social promotion in vertical system has become a rare practice, whereas the mechanisms that favored individual aspirations in horizontal system have not as yet been formed; at least as far as to make investing in the education of chi ldren and youth in villages to be visibly paying. All this has contributed to disappearance of the rural establishment who for various reasons were aspiring to having been considered as well read persons. This is of some importance, as a total of 38% of Poland's population live in the village and for the most part support themselves from farming. This figure is uncomparably higher than for any Western country or the USA. Thus, for the development of culture the fact of self recovering of this social group is not immaterial. In practice this means no progress in educational structure, management ways, health care and environmental protection. All this may, on the one hand, delay the social and economic transformation processes in the near and far future, and on the other, it may f avor conservative, claimant, thus in sum destructive attitudes. The statement that "democracy cannot stand poverty, apathy and stagnation" cannot help being agreed with [7].

4. Lift of Censorship

The claim of Klaus Dieter Lehman that in the Central European and former USSR countries ideological censorship has been replaced by economic censorship (the statement repeated also by other authors) can hardly be treated seriously [8]. The ideological censorship executed by the communist party and governmental authorities has caused too great devastation in culture to be comparable to the conse quences brought along by free publishing market. Ideological censorship was not just limited to an interference with the contents of a publication, their disapproval or otherwise. The censorship of those times was a system, the individual components of which were treated as a tool for exercising efficient political power. The system comprised:

The system had efficiently cut off the Polish reader from emigration literature, and from the vast majority of world literature, both the professional high level literature and the popular mass one. By promotmg authors and works that comply with the ideological and regime principles, both as regards old literature and the contemporary one, it used to block the selection options, creating there by a false impression of the permanent interests of the readers, among others, in the 19th century literature.

Opposition centres that emerged after 1976 (The Workers' Defence Committee. The Committee for Defence of Human and Citizen's Rights) initially and the Solidarnosc a few years later (1980) contributed to the fact that the state's monopoly in the publishing production was broken. An estimated 4,000 books and leaflets and over 2,000 titles of periodicals appeared beyond censorship from the imposition of Marshall Law (December 13, 1981) to February 1989 (initiation of the round table talks) [10].

A bibliographic description of the phenomenon of the publishing production of the underground circulation is not a simple matter because of the conspiracy conditions under which the publishers operated. The first bibliography that encompasses these publications has been issued in Paris; another one is now in print. A much more difficult task is to determine the range of reception of these publishers. Opinions vary from the extreme ones that negate their culture-forming significance to shear apologia. For want of reliable studies it can merely be said that the publications were resorted to by the groups and individuals who were of common belief and similar political persuasion; that those were primarily the educated people; that the books, pamphlets and periodicals were disseminated chiefly among the inhabitants of large towns (Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Poznan, Lublin, or Lodz) [11].

It may be claimed that the publishing production of the underground circulation (printing, editing, distribution) was a sort of practical training which came in handy as soon as censorship was lifted. A number of young underground publishers started their legal operations by setting up their own publishing houses.

The underground publishing allowed the intelligentsia an access to the world literature in philosophy, sociology, politics, poetry and literary prose. It seems hardly conceivable the development of social, political, economic and historical thought without the reading of the works of Knestler, Popper, Arend, Besanson, Kolakowski, Herling Grudzinski, Zinovev, Solzhenitsyn, Kundera, Grass, Brodski i. Milosz, Gombrowicz, and others. The arrears reading of the writings banned by censorship for 45 years could then be made up for.

The lift of censorship allowed an explosion of private publishing. This will not be overemphasized saying that in the process of transition from planned economy to market economy publishers proved to be the most active group. Until 1989 there were 36 state publishers, 12 cooperative, religious and other publishing houses, and 36 publishers related to higher education institutions, governmental a gencies, social organizations, etc. [12]. In 1993 the National Library recorded 2,273 publishers [13]. For the most part these were small publishing houses issuing 3 5 titles a year. Often they are one-season publishers, but there is also a group a several score publishing houses which have gained a permanent position in publishing market. For the sake of an equilibrium in the assessment of w hat the lift of censorship and the growth of a free publishing market have brought, it would be fair to mention also the negative effects. Of these undoubtedly mention should be made of the following:

5. Traditional and Commercial Culture

Lift of censorship, free publishing market, import of consumer electronics goods (cable television, videotape recorders), emergence of video cassette market, their widespread renting (also in the countryside), all this have had a revolutionary impact on the traditional circulation of the culture's production. Amidst the onlookers of cultural life (researchers, columnists, librarians) a few appra isals have appeared in this connection, viz.:

The book has become something commonplace and a workaday occupation. Especially the book of a handbook type, the one that is practical and useful. It is not treated as an exceptional mass media. For many it has the equivalence of a broadcast or television programme. In this connection the custom of reading and telling fairy tales and stories in the family, which incidentally has never been to o common, vanishes. Neither are books the subject of conversation between parents and children. Thus the intergeneration transfer of the knowledge of the history of national heritage is shrinking, which used to be effected by means of literature.

A question now can be posed whether under the new cultural situation there will be a place for the public library. Apparently the major problem resolves itself into whether it is to remain an institution intermediary in making the professionally high level literature available and this goal being an overriding factor for the principles of expanding its collection, facing a loss of the readership , or it is to yield to the growing wave of the interest and accordingly to acquire popular books which are designed for entertaining.

The acceptance of the latter variant, with the ever decreasing funds available for acquisition of new books, in practice, would be equivalent to the abandonment of traditional educational function of the public library. This is even more important in view of the fact that even though a 17% of population use public libraries, an estimated 40% of the books in circulation is the property of public libraries. In a number of families, particularly the rural ones, adults read books borrowed from libraries (also the school ones) by children.

6. The Book and Mass Media

According to the data published by the Main Statistical Office, the furnishing of Polish families with durable goods (television sets, videotape recorders, film cameras, musical instruments, etc.) is 3 5 fold lower that in the most affluent countries of Europe.

A comparison shows, however, that the indicators are clearly increasing. Specifically, in 1992 the households with a color television set has grown in number over 1990. Depending on whether it is a household of the farmer, retired or employed person this increase over the past year varied from 10.3% to 28.3% A similarly high growth rate is observed for the number of households with videotape recorders. In 1992 this equipment was owned by 48.7% of households of the employed (13.% in 1990), 11.8% farmer households (3.3% in 1990) [17]. Obviously, books were bought by the higher income people, yet if one compares the number of videotapes in households with the per capita income, the difference is minute. For comparison, according to investigation made by K. Wolf and G. Straus in 1992 , those who bought no book at all accounted for 44% of population [18]. A clear rise was noted, on the other hand, among the audio cassette buyers. A comparison shows that the decision as to the purchase of equipment, cassettes and books are a matter of conscious choice and preferences, rather than the lack of money. While there is a considerable difference in the furnishing in technical equip ment designed for cultural use between the town and the countryside, the interests in, say, videotapes and their enormous Popularity starting from 1989 does not make us look much different from what is going on in other countries. This is undoubtedly a way of making up for the lost time in civilisation development, aided by the availability on the home market of high quality technical equipmen t. This is accompanied by a much less desirable effect. The point is that a fair number of the respondents consider the new opportunities as substitutes with regard to the traditional ones. In 1990 10.5% of respondents expressed the opinion that television can entirely substitute the book, while 35% said that it can replace the book only partly. For the newspaper this indicator was 15.3% and 51.7%, respectively, which signifies that every other citizen of this country who has a television set at home, can do without the press. The newspaper readership dropped in 1990 by a few per cent over 1988 (from 87.5% to 85.9%), but the activity of those who used to read papers five times a week and more fell by 50%, while the number of the non readers declined from 12.5% to 41.1%.

In the light of the Main Statistical Office data the forecast for illustrated magazines and social, cultural and political weeklies is not optimistic. The readership has been clearly decline. By 50% less often the press of that kind is read by the youth and adults, primary school as well as university graduates, engineers, farmers and white collar-workers. In 1985 every other undergraduate and schoolchild used to read one or other social, cultural and political weekly. In 1990 it was already every fifth. The information provided by individual academic teachers about the lack of interest in reading among undergraduates could be regarded as an exaggerated, biased, overstatement, but in the light of the Main Statistical Office's data it proved that 78.5% of undergraduates and schoolchil dren do not read social, cultural and political weeklies at all. Lack of money and general pauperisation of families can hardly account for this effect. For it was found that those with the highest income buy less weeklies than the ones who make five times less money.

The picture of participation in culture, reflected in the statistics, coincides with the results of a survey of readership. The qualitative changes, in particular the declining activity in taking advantage of the printed word for the sake of the television monoculture, have been taking place over the past two decades. In 1972 the urban television viewers accounted for 93.7% their rural counterpa rts - for 79.1%. In 1990 the respective figures were 99,0% and 98.2%. Everyday up to two hours' viewing time equalled 32.0% in town and 37.4% in countryside. Television has contributed to level out differences in TV viewing time between town and countryside. In contradistinction to its nearly 100% range, the book has become the domain of interest of few individuals. For the vast majority (n early 70%) of young countryside residents aged 18 31 the reading is associated chiefly with the learning at school and mandatory reading matter [19].

7. Cultural & Library Policy

For over half a century the process of bringing cultural policy under the state control has been accomplished, and with it also a few of its major elements such as publishing policy and library policy. Just as nationalization of the publishing movement had detached the publishing from the readers' actual needs and interests, so had nationalization of the public library broken it off from local c ommunity by subjecting it to the central directives of the party and administration. The taxpayer, the voter and their rights and needs became historical concepts. The library, along with its rules turned into a state institution like the post office or the school, while the librarian became a government officer. The dependence of the Librarian upon the authorities was much more pronounced tha n on local community. It was the authorities that used to assess his work, rather than library users and readers. The detachment of the library from local community allowed libraries to organize their work on the "work in", rather than "work-out"' basis.

The economy restructuring programme, lift of censorship, free book market -- all this came as a surprise to the large part of librarians. It has proved soon that the transition from the state's omnipotence in the domain of culture to the treatment of culture in liberal terms, on analogous principles as in economy, may be painful and has its price. Representatives of the culture creative communi ty (writers, painters, actors, etc.) were first to suffer the iron laws of the new economy. All of a sudden they have realized to have lost their major sponsor, the state, they had had for 45 years. The foreign debt and internal debts have manifested themselves as an imbalanced government budget. Subsequent to creative communities other social groups suffered the blow, viz: teachers, research w orkers, librarians, medical doctors, in other words those for whom the state was the main provider. Moreover, the public library upkeep system has become more involved. In conformity with the Territorial Self-Government Act part of them (communal libraries) were taken over by communal government authorities. The duties are included among their own targets. It has soon become apparent that by far not all can cope with these new financial burdens. In 1989 there were 10,313 public libraries in Poland. Up to 1993 a total of 543 were closed down, of that number over 60% in rural communities. ln 1992, because of budgetary austerity measures implemented by local governments, the opening hours were limited in 762 libraries. The purchase of new books published has decreased from 14.4 vol ume/100 residents in 1989 to 8.9% in 1992 [20].

All this has contributed to a drop in social interest in the library. In 1989 the public library readers constituted 21% of general population, whereas the corresponding figure for 1992 was a mere 17.2%. The highest decline occurred in the countryside, i.e. where the libraries were closed down or their opening time was limited most often. Thus the lift of censorship and development of a free p ublishing market enabled the reader a free book choice; on the other hand it has put up an accessibility barrier to it. In the villages and small towns the upkeep of permanent bookstores has become economically unsound, which is the case of other countries. Meanwhile the closedown of a public library utterly deprives the local community residents of any contact with the book.

The funds allocated from the budget for culture in 1993 amounted to a total of 0,65%. The figure comprises expenditure for libraries, largely for the upkeep of 49 voivoship and municipal public libraries and their network, although occasionally the branches are maintained by municipal self governments. The local government expenditure for culture is higher, compared with the central government one (3.2%). Both these sources are inadequate to the needs. As opposed to the majority of Western countries, especially Scandinavia, there has been no division of responsibilities of maintaining public libraries between the state budget and local governments. As a result, their development prospect in the future may be rather limited. An attempt at determining which institutions in the state play the major part in the creating of cultural policy is not an easy task. A reason for that is, among others, that the institutions that form their structure are reluctant to take on activities in this field. The memories of the times when the state institutions used to decide of whether a book is to be published, a poetry issued, a drama performance or a show put on, are vivid enough to para lyse any initiative aimed at determine the cultural policy guidelines. This is equally true of the Seym, the Senate and their Cultural Committees, or the Government Administration Institutions (the Ministry of Culture and Arts). The situation has not been made easy also because during the past five years no social institutions have emerged in Poland with the exception of the extragovernmental Fundacja Kultury (the Culture Foundation) called into being in 1991, to propose major trends for the activities in various domains of culture, and to act as intermediary in the transfer of governmental subsidies for the cultural institutions that need badly a support (theaters, museums, libraries, etc.). A modest influence on the formation of some opinion forming groups in the domain of cultur al policy have: Stowalzyszenie Bibliotekarzy Polskich (the Polish Librarians Association) which has started work on the draft Library Bill; Polskie Tovarzystwo Czytelnicze (the Polish Reading Society) established in 1992, which endeavors to integrate various circles interested in the book and reading; Polskie Towalzystwo Bibliologiczne (the Polish Bibliological Society), which develops its work around creating information about the Polish collections displaced as the result of the World War II. The activities mentioned. however, cannot substitute an integrated programme that would clearly define the cultural policy guidelines in Poland.

8. Conclusions

Transformations in political and economic systems that occurred in 1989 determine the cultural processes. Some of these are revolutionary in character. In the democratic system and market economy the reader has gained the right of choice of the book contents of his interest. The readiness with which the reading public, but also a vast majority who used to reach for a book infrequently or not a t all, have taken advantage of this right, was manifested many years ago and was described in some reading surveys. The real reading interests, however, were efficiently blocked by cultural policy of the ideological state. The fact that the readers have a freedom of choice does not automatically imply a universal access. Making the book, theatrical or musical performance available cannot be ca lculated in terms of the supply/demand equilibrium and economic cost effectiveness. Just as it is with reference to the school and education, it has to be admitted that cultured and educated society is an asset for a country that is building new structures and a new economic order. Without such education and culture a higher civilisation level cannot be developed, neither can participation of c itizens in public life be made active. Transferring the experience of liberal economy onto the sphere of culture is hardly promising; conversely, it may become a deterrent in its development. Cultural policy need not signify an interference with, and an attempt at controlling both the artistic creation and the ways of its dissemination. The democratic practices verified in numerous countries ma y favor, to a comparable degree, preservation of the values of traditional culture and those provided by mass culture. Turning away from the former or ignoring it, as well as overlooking and underestimating the latter, forebode nothing good to the culture as a whole.

Much as mass culture makes money for itself, so the making of the high level, professional literary production necessitates a dequate funding. The idea of relying on private sponsors, foundations, donations and endowments in a country like Poland appears to be ingenuous. Thus the main source is the state budget as well as the local government budgets. A social control in the form of various institutions to act as intermediary over the money flow from the government allocations to cultural institutions is indispensabl e so that money should not become a tool of pressure of one ideology or another. These institutions may be various councils, agencies, foundations, committees, etc. This appears to be not only the road to render the creative and professional circles active, but also to make cultural policy become influenced by the society. An assumption that the economic reforms, the industry, modernisation o f services, banking system, diverting the unemployed to other jobs, can be readily accomplished without the cultural development of the whole society, which would be implemented at the same time or even ahead of it, seems to be rather ingenuous and a gross misunderstanding.


[1] Kolodziejska, J.: Kultura, gospodarka biblioteki [in Polish] (The Culture and Managing of the Library), Warsaw, 1992, Biblioteka Narodowa.

[2] Zielinski, E.: Proces przeobrazen ustrojowo politycznych (The Political System Transformation Process) [in]: Przeobrazenia ustrojowe w Polsce (The Political System Transformation in Poland), Warsaw, 1993. The Warsaw University, the Institute of Pedagogical Sciences, p. 34.

[3] Wasilewski, J. and Wnuk Lipinski, E.: Ile komuny nam zostalo? (How much of the communist party is left with us?), Gazeta Wyborcza, 53, 1994.

[4] The Territorial Self Government Act, Warsaw, Przemiany Publishers, 1990, p. 17.

[5] Bogucka, T.: Postoj na srodku rzeki (A parking lot in the middle of a river), Gazela Wyborcza of February 5 6, 1994.

[6] Wolff, K.: Losy wiejskich czytelnikow ksiazek. Studium porownawcze (The Fate of Rural Book Readers. A Comparative Study), Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw, 1993.

[7] Kurczewski. J.: W sprawie istnienia krasnoludkow na tym swiecie (On the Existence of the Genii on this World), Nowa Res Publica 2 (65), l994.

[8] Lehman, K. D.: National Libraries in Eastern Europe A Period of Transition, Barcelona, IFLA, 1993.

[9] Kondek, S.A.: Wladza i wydawcy (The Authorities and the Publishers), Warsaw, Biblioteka Narodowa, 1993.

[10] Jastrezbski, M.: Avoiding Censorship: the Second Circulation of Books in Poland, Journal of Reading, 6, 1993.

11] (Chojnacki Wladyslaw or Chojnacki Wojciech) Kaminska, J.:Bibliografia publikacji podziemnych w Polsce. 13.XIII. 1981--VII.1986 (The Bibliography of Underground Publications in Poland, December 13, 1981 till July 1986), Paris, 1986, p. 554.

[12] Ruch Wydawniczy w liczbach (The Publishing Movement in Figures), XXXV; 1989, Warsaw, Biblioteka Narodowa, 1990.

[13] Informator o wydawcach w Polsce 1993/11994 (Publishers in Poland in Years 1993/1994) A Guidebook, Warsaw, Biblioteka Narodowa.

[14] Godewski, A. and Walczak, A.: Farbowanie czarnej bandery (Colouring the Black Banner), Wprost 10, Warsaw, 1994.

[15] The Copyright and Related Rights Act no. 83, of February 4, 1994, Dziennik Ustaw Rzeczvpospolitej; Polskiej, 24, l994.

[16] Trening udawania (The Training in Make Believe). An Interview with Professor Zbigniew Kwiecinski, an Education Sociologist of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Torun, by Inga Kalthenberg, Tygodnik Powszechny, 20, 1988.

[17] Podstawowe informacje z zakresu kultury w 1992 r. (Basic Information on Culture in 1992), Warsaw, Glowny Urzad Statystyczny, 1993: Uczestnictwo w kulturze (Participation in Culture), Glowny Urzad Statystyczny, Warsaw, 1992.

[18] Wolff, K. and Straus G.: Czytelnictwo 1992. Wstepne wyniki badan (The Reading in 1992. Preliminary Results of the Survey) [in print].

[19] Wolff, K: Losy wiejskich czytelników ksiazek. Studium porównawcze (The Fate of Rural Book Readers. A Comparative Study), Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw, 1993.

[20] Biblioteki publiczne w liczbach 1992 (The Public Libraries in Statistics in 1992), Warsaw, Biblioteka Narodowa, 1993.