The digitization of the collection belonging to Cieszyn Library started in 2003. It was decided that strictly regional items should be digitized because there was a very slim chance that they would be included in digitization projects carried out by other institutions. In the next years, Cieszyn Library focused on written records created in Cieszyn Silesia or devoted to this region. We believe that incorporating such works into national and European digital data systems is one of our main tasks.
As early as in 2003, at the initial stage of the project, we used our own funds to create and launch Cieszyn Virtual Library (CBW), where we shared digital copies of almost 100 works which make up the canon of old historical literature from Cieszyn. The digital library enabled us to recognize the need for access to digital versions of written documents related to the history of Cieszyn Silesia, as well as the organizational and technical possibilities of digitizing and sharing such documents. It encouraged us to carry on digitization work, which was gaining impetus and gradually rose to be one of the key activities undertaken by Cieszyn Library. It was possible thanks to four projects which our Library implemented in the years 2007-2015, making use of donations obtained from the European Economic Area and a governmental programme called “Culture+”. At the same time, we conducted independent digitization works. They were carried out by apprentices and those who served a community sentence. We also used our humble IT resources (it was not until 2014 that we purchased Bookeye 4 V2 Professional, a book scanner). Apart from copies which were ordered by readers, we generally digitize contemporary regional publications, mostly from the Trans-Olza Region, whose copies are then transformed into digital publications (which is possible thanks to the support of the Silesian Library).
By the end of 2015, digitization carried out for the purposes of Cieszyn Library led to copying almost 800,000 pages and preparing about 10,500 publications which included 500 non-serial publications, 3,500 magazines and 6,500 manuscripts. The digitized resources include manuscripts from the Reverend Leopold Jan Szersznik’s Library and the Tadeusz Reger’s Library, the whole collection of press and magazines published in Cieszyn Silesia before 1939 that are stored in Cieszyn Library, as well as selected contemporary periodicals and non-serial publications on regional matters. In the years 2016-2018, thanks to a donation from the Regional Operational Programme, Cieszyn Library managed to initiate another project. It included digitizing a collection of 1,800 bound old prints from Cieszyn which comprise of 180,000 pages. Thus, we achieved another important milestone in the digitization process carried out in Cieszyn. Thanks to this process, we could share digital resources which include all the literary production published in Cieszyn Silesia before 1939 that is stored in Cieszyn Library.
On 26 January 2009, Cieszyn Library joined a group of institutions which help create Silesian Digital Library. At the request of Cieszyn Library, the interface of the Silesian Digital Library now has a new option which enables each of the entities that create the digital library to present its collection individually, in a separate profile (in the tab called “Publications of the Participants”). Back in 2009, Cieszyn Library used the website of Silesian Digital Library to share the resources of Cieszyn Virtual Library, thereby definitively bringing its short-lived history to an end. In the next years, we also shared digital publications which were created as part of gradually implemented projects and digitization works carried out independently by Cieszyn Library. By the end of 2018, we managed to share almost 12,000 publications in total. However, it needs to be noted that this number cannot be compared with the resources of other entities which help create Silesian Virtual Library. It is because a large part of the collection in Cieszyn is made up of newspapers and magazines. For the convenience of readers, we do not share them as individual publications. Instead, we group together all the issues which came out in a given year. When it comes to periodicals of greater length, we publish half-year or quarterly sets of issues. Importantly, the great majority of publications which contain photocopies of printed texts, including those with the Gothic script, come with carefully prepared OCR.