Academic Reading Room
The Academic Reading Room (pol. Czytelnia Akademicka) was an academic cultural and scientific organization, which functioned from the 1860s until the outburst of the Second World War. The organization was approved on 1 April 1867 as the first Polish student scientific and academic community. The main task of the Reading Room was uniting the students of the higher educational institutions in Lviv in order to foster the sense of civil and social duties in them. The purpose of the organization was associated with the formation of a center for social and research work amid students. Among other statutory goals, there were: upbringing of youth, keeping a library, making students'collective movement more vivid through the organization of joint meetings, playing chess or billiards. The Academic Reading Room also engaged in the lease of its halls for different university associations for the purpose of organizing entertainment, meetings, and gatherings. In 1896 the Academic Reading Room founded its own periodical Czasopismo Akademickie; from 1899 it was issued under the name Teka (some writings of Leopold Staff, a famous poet, were published there). The society members were also involved in the organization of celebrations and religious holidays (for example, they were responsible for the student community's participation in the procession on the Corpus Christi feast). In June 1925, the Academic Reading Room organized celebrations dedicated to the 900th anniversary of the coronation of Boleslaw the Brave, in which professors Stanisław Grabski and Wilhelm Bruchnalski participated. On 2 February 1928 the society widely celebrated the 60th anniversary of its activities.
According to the statute, only students of Polish nationality could be members of the Academic Reading Room. The first leader of the society was Albin Rajski. Among other well-known leaders of the society, there were Stanisław Starzyński (1875-1876), Leon Piniński (1876-1877), Jan Paygert (1884), Edward Dubanowicz (1902-1903). The society included a lot of future politicians and scholars. Among the members and supporters of the society, there were also professors of Lviv University, for example, Oswald Balzer and Władysław Abraham. Despite the fact that the Academic Reading Room was an organization uniting all the academic environment of Lviv, in the interwar period most of its members were students of the Jan Kazimierz University.
At the initial stage of the organization's activities, the life of youth, united by the Academic Reading Room, concentrated in a few modest rooms on Chorąszczyzny (now Dudayeva) street. In the interwar period, the main seat of the organization was the building on Łozińskiego (now Hertsena) street 7. It was there that young people could read various newspapers, magazines, and books collected in the organization's library. The students involved in the work of the Reading Room were united in smaller scientific circles, each with its own administration and leader.
Initially, the Academic Reading Room was an organization uniting students with different political views, but at the turn of the 20th c. it became dominated by the national democrats who occupied the most important positions in the administration. Over time, the organization's activities were politicized. It became a bastion of young radicals who identified themselves with the nationalist ideology and strengthened ties with members of the "All-Polish Youth" (pol. Młodzież Wszechpolska). In the interwar period, many activists of the Reading Room belonged simultaneously to both organizations. Among the people linked with the national camp, there were students Czesław Rojek, Jerzy Meinhardt, Jan Kornas, Adam Macieliński, Adam Treszka, Adam Toruń. The organization began to engage in anti-Semitic campaigns, encouraging the participation in demonstrations, which appealed for excluding students of Jewish origin from the academic community.
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By Ewa Bukowska-Marczak