Established in 1915, the PMA Library Centennial in 2015. The PMAL holds about 100,000 books (over 55,000 catalogued) in our specialized Library, both in the Polish and English languages. These books cover a variety of Polish subjects including, but not limited to: art, music, biography, culture, genealogy, immigration, and history. The public is welcome to use these resources for on-site research. Lending capabilities are reserved for Library and Museum members; membership is available for a very modest annual fee of $25, and also included in PMA memberships starting at the Patron level. Both English and Polish speaking personnel are available to assist library patrons with their needs.
As a center for all PMA activities, the Library serves to connect the outside world with what is being done within our institution through press releases, media promotions and TV appearances, as well as research about historical events in Chicago for organizational anniversaries. The Library staff strives to ensure that the Museum and its collections become familiar to all who are interested. With limited budgets and resources, we use all available opportunities to be seen and heard. An important out-reach program is the specially prepared Library lessons for Chicagoland students. It has proven to be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about the Museum and Library, our collections, and Polish and Polish American history.
Currently, we have several programs dedicated to the preservation and growth of the Library. The “Save a Book” program, raises funds for the conservation of the Polonica Collections. The “Adopt a Book” program focuses on the purchase of new titles, “Rare Library Book Conservation” program. Monies raised in this fund will go to the sympathetic restoration of our oldest and most unique books; donations are very welcome. The most precious part of this collection is the 200 volumes of rare books and old prints from the 16th through 18th centuries. The subject matter ranges widely, although dominated by historical and historical-geographical works, as well as books on laws, rules, and regulations. All pre-1945 books will be entered into a database, a project currently underway. Thanks to the cooperation with the National Library of Poland and The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, we selected the most rare and precious ones among the non-catalogued and will be able to restore and preserve them following the present guidelines. In honor of the PMAL’s upcoming 100th Anniversary in 2015, we plan to publish a complete catalog of the Rare Library Books Collection, highlighting the titles newly restored.
The PMAL wholeheartedly appreciates the help offered by volunteers, of whom we have a constant need. We try to do as much as possible to keep down costs, and together, we accomplish wonders. Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, the Library inventory procedures are complete. The Library is ready for full computerization, a process which began in 2011 with the PastPerfect Museum Software 5 program. With cooperation of the Chicago Cultural Alliance through special training sessions, PMAL staff was able to upload the many MS Excel spreadsheets created over the last few years into the combined database that is searchable by every Museum employee.
PMAL has Polish OPAC provider MAK+ since 2013.
Our newest contacts and interns from Loyola University, University of Chicago, and Polish American Librarians Association are very helpful in the implementation process. Computer-savvy volunteers will be greatly welcomed.
With a computer program in place and organized, we hope that the Library will be able to join OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and make our special collections visible to the entire world. While we have a basic fund to start the process, however more monetary support is needed to accomplish this monumental task.