This article presents an outline of the history of the three academic libraries in Poland: the Warsaw University Library in Warsaw, the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków, and the Adam Mickiewicz University Library in Poznań during the second part of the nineteenth century. This was the period of the Partitions of Poland, during which the Polish state, divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia, disappeared from the map of Europe. The politics of the three partitioning powers towards Poles differed greatly, but their goal was the total assimilation of Polish people and incorporation of all seized territories into their own countries. Libraries as depositories of Polish language, Polish history, and Polish culture became crucial institutions in the struggle for the survival of Polish identity. Their history reflects the difficult negotiations between the politics of the partitioners towards Poles and different attitudes and ideas among Poles themselves towards the preservation of Polish heritage and the restoration of the Polish state. The present state of those libraries, especially the scope of their collections, is a direct result of historical conditions that shaped them.

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