Gazi Husrev Bey's Library
THE GHAZI HUSRAW BEG LIBRARY
Hamdije Kreševljakovica 58
71000 Sarajevo - Bosnia & Herzegovina
Tel.: 033/658-143, 264-960(1,2)
Gazi Husrev Bey's Library in Sarajevo was founded in 1537, together with a school (madrasah), six years after Gazi Husrev Bey, the Ottoman Governor of Bosnia at the time, had established the oldest higher education institution in Sarajevo for teaching of Sufi philosophy (hanikah). In his endowment charter (vakufnama) about the construction of the madrasah, the benefactor requested that "... whatever was left from the funds for the construction, it should be used for a purchase of good books, which would be utilized in the mentioned madrasah, for those who would read them and for those who are involved in science to copy from those books". For this reason, this library is considered to be the first and oldest cultural institution of the Bosniaks.
The Library remained within the Kurshumlija Madrasah until 1863 when, due to the lack of space, it was reallocated to a larger room built next to the Gazi Husrev Bey's Mosque. It remained there until 1935 when it was moved again because of the large quantity of books in its collections. Its new location was in the building in front of the Imperial (Careva) Mosque. It was there until the beginning of the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 when the safety reasons urged to be transferred to several, more secure locations in the City.
The basic collections of the Library consist of manuscripts in Arabic, Turkish and Persian. They amount to 10,000 codices, which makes this Library one of the largest in Europe. It is well known throughout the world. The manuscripts came from various parts of the Islamic world, most particularly from big and renowned centers of culture and science such as Istanbul, Mecca, Medina, Cairo and Baghdad. A considerable number of these manuscripts originated in Bosnian towns and villages where many Bosniaks-Moslems wrote original works or copied the books by other authors from all, then known scientific disciplines.
The complete book collections became larger because many individuals endowed or donated books to the Library. Sometimes the whole private libraries were given as a gift. A number of manuscripts and other valuable books, as well as several private collections, were purchased by the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina for this Library.
The overall library holdings today is 60,000 units. Apart from the already mentioned manuscripts' collections, there are other holdings of printed books, periodicals and historical documents in three Oriental languages, then in Bosnian and in some other European languages . The periodicals' funds keep the oldest newspapers and magazines printed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whereas the archives hold documents related to the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period of the Ottoman rule. It also has an important collection of 1,400 vakufnamas, and 86 sigils (court records and protocols) from the Sharia Court in Sarajevo. It should be mentioned that all the collection in the Library were preserved in the course of the last war. Bearing in mind the level of devastation and destruction of the Bosniak cultural heritage, the Library's holdings represent today almost the only, and therefore unavoidable, source for research of the history and cultural heritage of the Bosniaks and Islamic studies.
The basic functions of the Library are acquisition, cataloguing, processing, keeping and offering the collections for use in scientific and research purposes for anybody involved in research of these disciplines.