Faq - The National Library



  • First, find the item in the online catalogue, then order it for delivery to the reading room. To order items you will need a library card.

  • The main building is located at Aleja Niepodległości 213 and can be reached by metro (closest stop: Pole Mokotowskie), bus or tram (closest stop: Biblioteka Narodowa). Free parking is also available in front of the building. The main entrance is Entrance B and is on the side facing Aleja Niepodległości.

  • Click here for detailed opening hours of the reading rooms and other departments.

  • Yes, near the main entrance.

  • No, items may only be consulted in the reading rooms.

  • Anyone aged 13 or over. Minors require written consent from their parent or guardian.

  • To consult items from the collections, you need to reserve a desk in advance. Click here for details of how to reserve a desk and what items are available during the pandemic.

  • Our Conditions of Use are available here and are also displayed in the National Library at the Information point, the Reader Registration Office and in the reading rooms.

  • The Reader Registration Office is located on the ground floor of the main building at Aleja Niepodległości 213 and has the same opening hours as the Library itself [email: rejestracja@bn.org.pl; tel. (+48 22) 608 2336]. During registration you will need to present your identity document (see Conditions of Use), familiarise yourself with the Conditions of Use and sign a declaration stating that you will abide by them and giving us permission to process your personal data. You should receive your library card on the spot.

  • Library cards are personalised and have your photograph on them. They are issued free of charge by the Reader Registration Office, inside the National Library. You do not need to bring a photograph of yourself with you – we take your photograph free of charge on the spot.

  • Library cards are valid for ten years from registration, or until you cancel them.

  • Please report lost library cards immediately to the Reader Registration Office or by email on rejestracja@bn.org.pl or telephone (+48 22) 608 2336. Replacement cards are issued by the Reader Registration Office in the main building of the National Library at Aleja Niepodległości 213. Replacement library cards cost PLN 10.

  • Please submit any comments or suggestions about the services provided by the National Library in writing to the Reader Registration Office. The Library responds to comments submitted in writing with full name and address within 14 days, mail kontakt@bn.org.pl or via this form

  • Yes. If you already have a library card you can order items from the collections using the catalogue of the National Library, available on katalogi.bn.org.pl. You must first log in to your account on your own device or one of the computer workstations in the National Library. You can also order items at the Information point or with the help of the Duty Librarian in the reading rooms.

  • How much time it takes to process an order depends on the status and condition of the item, as well as the time required to have it fetched and delivered to the reading room. Orders made less than 45 minutes before the closing time of a reading room are processed the next working day. Orders are processed from Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 7.45 p.m., and Saturday, 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Items can be collected within 2 following days. Orders relating to ephemera, items from the bibliographic collection and items with call numbers containing the sub-references Cim., Cym., Chr., Cim. Konsp., Konsp. or Wyst. are processed from Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    For details about ordering items from the collections during the pandemic, click here.

  • The Main Reading Room and the Heritage Collections Reading Room are located in the main building of the National Library. A separate reading room can be found at the Biblioteka Donacji Pisarzy Polskich (Library of Polish Writers' Donations), Krakowskie Przedmieście 87/89.

    Details of the collections, number of desks and opening hours are available here.

  • Until further notice, if you wish to use a reading room you first need to reserve a desk. For details of how to do so, please click here.

  • Only readers who have reserved desks may physically enter the reading rooms (for details of how to reserve a desk, please click here). After entering the reading room, please give your library card to the Duty Librarian. In return, the Duty Librarian will give you a numbered token indicating which desk you should use in the reading room (if you lose this token, you will be obliged to pay PLN 15). Please inform the Duty Librarian about any materials of your own that you bring into the reading room.

    • Ask the Duty Librarian to help you use items from the collections or equipment in the reading room (computers, microfilm readers, microfiche readers)
    • Use your own devices, such as a laptop. However, you must first inform the Duty Librarian and make sure that you have their permission. You may only use your own devices under certain conditions and in the place assigned
    • Use the reference items available on the open shelves in the Library
    • At any given time, use no more than three volumes or items from the Library's storerooms in the Main Reading Room, or one volume or item from the storerooms in the Heritage Collections Reading Room. Items not collected by the reader on the day they are requested are kept in the reading room for the two following calendar days
    • Order scans or photocopies of material. You can do this via the Office for Readers' Orders at the National Library, subject to the current regulations and price list.
  • As a reader, you must:

    • Comply with the general regulations that apply when you are on Library premises during the pandemic, in particular the obligation to cover your mouth and nose
    • Leave the Library building at the end of your reserved time slot
    • Show your library card to the Duty Librarian or other National Library staff if requested
    • Use the desk allocated to you (indicated on the numbered token you receive)
    • Treat items from the collections with due care
    • Not remove items from the location where they were provided for consultation
    • Put your mobile phone and other equipment on silent
    • Only make or receive phone calls in designated areas
    • Obey any instructions from the Duty Librarian.
  • While the reading spaces in the National Library are in the process of being modernised, we continue to make every effort to help people with disabilities access our collections. For readers who have difficulty reading normal print, we provide computer equipment and software for use with books, journals and other publications within the Library. Portable video magnifiers are also available in the temporary reading room for use by readers with visual impairments.

    Inside the Heritage Collection Reading Room you can find the Access Point for People with Disabilities to the Collections of the National Library. This includes a workstation with a computer equipped with a refreshable braille display, screen reader software and a fast scanner. People who have difficulty reading normal print can use selected books, journals, ephemera and other items in an accessible electronic format. The Access Point is also equipped with an induction loop to help communication and access to information for people with hearing disabilities.

    The project "Access Point for People with Disabilities to the Collections of the National Library" is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

    For more information, see Regulamin Punktu Dostępu Osób Niepełnosprawnych do Zbiorów Biblioteki Narodowej (Regulations on the Access Point for People with Disabilities to the Collections of the National Library, currently available in Polish only).

  • On entering the Library, please leave coats, umbrellas, rucksacks, briefcases and large bags in the Cloakroom. This applies not only to readers but to all visitors to the Library. The Cloakroom can provide transparent plastic bags for any personal items which readers wish to take into the reading rooms or other public parts of the building. You can also take your own books, journals and laptop (without its case) into the reading rooms with you.

  • You can access the databases from the Library (databases list). These databases can only be accessed on the Library premises, after logging in to a computer with your library card.

    Readers can also use the special terminals of the Academica digital interlibrary loan system.

  • Yes. More than three million digital items are available via the polona.pl digital library, and about the same number via the Academica digital interlibrary loan system.

  • You can take reference items directly from the open shelves and use them at your desk. Please do not take reference items out of the reading room. Reference books are arranged by subject matter, as indicated on the shelves. You can also use the catalogues to find the items you are looking for.

    If you cannot find the item you want on the shelves, please ask the Duty Librarian.

  • The National Library's collections (with the exception of reference items on the open shelves in the reading rooms) are kept in the storerooms. To consult an item, you need to log on to the online catalogue and order the item using the option "Request". In the event of difficulties, please ask the Duty Librarian for assistance. To order certain types of items, you first need permission from the head of the relevant reading room or a person authorised by them. This includes the following: graphic materials, drawings, photographs, maps, musical scores, ephemera and manuscripts (including music manuscripts and manuscript maps).

    Click here for details of how to order these items.

  • Call numbers are the codes used to locate publications in the storerooms. They consist of a series of numbers, or letters and numbers. The letters used at the National Library have the following meanings:

    • A – Archive copy, only to be made available if no regular copy is available
    • Cim, Cym – Highly valuable or rare edition
    • Chr – Item subject to special protection
    • DŻS – Ephemera available in the Heritage Collections Reading Room
    • KW – Item from the former multi-copy collection.
  • You can order books, journals, graphic materials, drawings, photographs, maps, musical scores, ephemera, manuscripts (including music manuscripts and manuscript maps) and microfilms.

    Details about ordering items from specific collections are given in the Conditions of Use, and also here.

  • Please consult the Regulations.

  • To order a journal, you first need to find its description and the call numbers of the various volumes/issues in the National Library's storerooms using the online catalogue. You can then use the "Request" option to order the volume/issue number or year that you want. The call numbers of individual volumes/issues appear below the bibliographic description.

    In case of difficulty, please call (+48 22) 608 23 30 or (+48 22) 608 24 91 or email bninform@bn.org.pl.

  • To order a microfilm or microfiche, you need to find its description and the call numbers of the various items in the National Library's storerooms using the catalogues. The call numbers of individual items appear below the bibliographic description in the online catalogue.

    You can order microfilms using the online catalogue. However, in some cases you will need to consult the traditional card catalogue for microfilms. This is located in the Main Reading Room by the desk for ordering and collection materials.

    If you have any difficulty placing your order, please call (+48 22) 608 23 30 or (+48 22) 608 24 91 or email bninform@bn.org.pl.

  • To order items classed as "ephemera", please email the head of the Ephemera department on ulotka@bn.org.pl.

  • Yes. You can ask for a book to be brought to the National Library from another library in Poland if it is not held by the National Library or in any other library in Warsaw. For a charge, you can also borrow materials from foreign libraries through the National Library, if those materials are not available in a Polish library.

    For details about interlibrary loans, please click here.

  • For a charge, individuals and institutions can request reproductions of library materials. Due to the archival nature of the National Library's collections, not every document can be photocopied or scanned – this is not possible, for example, in the case of archival materials (call numbers including the letter A) and items in poor condition. In the case of such items, photocopies can be made from microfilms or scans of the item. If the National Library does not already have a microfilm or scan of the item, the reader has to pay for one to be made. Materials can only be copied where this is permitted by law, in particular the Act on Copyright and Related Rights.

    For details about ordering photocopies or scans, and a price list, please click here.

  • Yes, you can make copies of items yourself – without flash, and with the shutter sound turned off – if permitted by the Duty Librarian. The Duty Librarian may stop you making copies if there is the risk of degradation, damage or destruction to the item, or if you are disturbing the work of others in the Library. You are responsible for observing copyright laws.

    For details, please refer to the Regulations.

  • No.

  • No. Please leave any food or drinks in the Cloakroom.

  • Yes. For details about using the Internet and other digital resources at the National Library, please click here.