Varaždin Public Library (named after Metel Ožegović in 1990) started its professional development in 1947 building on the collective funds of three national libraries – the first Illyrian reading room (1838), the library of cultural artistic society “Sloboda” (1905) and the City Public Library (1919).
The first reading room was founded by Metel Ožegović with the help from Henrik Hergović, Antun Račić, Mihajlo Koščec, Samuel Bužan, Pavao Manhardt, Josip Vidujević and Tomo Blažek.
It changed its name several times:
1838 DRUŽTVO NARODNO – THE NATIONAL SOCIETY (ČITAONA VARASD. ILIRSKA) (THE ILLYRIAN READING ROOM OF VARAŽDIN)
1843. NARODNA ČITAONICA - THE NATIONAL READING ROOM
1847. DVORANA – THE HALL (in 1877 the Hall was joined by the German CASINO, founded in 1873)
1918. NARODNA ČITAONICA - THE NATIONAL READING ROOM (which included the FRENCH CLUB, from 1922 until 1953)
1939. HRVATSKA ČITAONICA – CROATIAN READING ROOM
Our oldest reading room was situated on the first floor of the HERZER palace, on 6 Franjevački trg , but was moved to the building in what is today 4 Kranjčevićeva street. In the newly built theatre building the Library has changed its location several times. For some time the rooms on the second floor in the northern part of the building were used.
We don’t exactly know when the Library started working as part of the Workers’ cultural artistic society “Sloboda” (Liberty), but it is known that in the process of founding the society the librarians Stjepan Martinić and Marko Žugec were included.
The Library started receiving donated books, but they were also bought with the money raised at gatherings in which the members of the society took part.
“Liberty” had its premises on several locations – in Zagrebačka, Nazorova, Cesarčeva street… During its history it stopped working several times.
City Public Library was founded by the ACADEMIC SOCIETY “TOMISLAV” in 1919 with the help of the National reading room (Narodna čitaonica). The society had 6 sections of which one was in charge of setting up mobile libraries, and another of establishing a Public Library. A special effort was made on the part of Professor Josip Lacković and students Božo Jambrečak, Branko Svoboda, Hugo Weinberger and Velmar Janković. The society also published books and the magazine “Naše doba” (“Our time”).
When it opened, City Public Library was situated in what is today 8 Pavlinska street. After that it was moved to Alojzije Stepinac street, and since 1945 to the ground floor of the northern part of the theatre building.
The newly opened library succeeded in acquiring new items according to a planned schedule, collecting books from several other libraries – some of which belonged to unions, schools, some were specialized and some were from private collections.
Today it also performs a function as an administrative institution in charge of all national and school libraries in Varaždin county.