Our history

History of the Zrínyi Ilona Town Library


The Zrínyi Ilona Town Library is the only public settlement library of Sárospatak. It has a highlighted scope of regional duties. It was founded on 1st of July 1953.

 The more than a half-century-long history of the bibliothek can be divided in into five periods:


Foundation and lying the gournds in the Village Library


Development and evolution in  the Town Library


Introducing of new services, widening the range of effect


Information development- virtual library 

The library is named after Ilona Zrínyi
International relationships


Integration with the Hose of Culture

They began to built the system of council bibliotheks also in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén in the early 50s. District bibliotheks were established in Sátoraljaújhely and Szerencs. The leaders of Sárospatak did not accept the plan of the Public Library Center, and refused to financially support it, either. Because of that it was established only a branch bibliothek instead of a bibliothek with district duties in 1953 in Sárospatak. This branch bibliothek organizatonally belonged to the district bibliothek in Sátoraljaújhely.

The little bibliothek worked under very poor conditions. There were about a thousand books available for the users. The institution had unconsidearble circulation, so librarian Edit Tarr worked also for the District Library in Sátoraljaújhely four times a week. Her job was regularly monitored and helped by the library inspectors. The number of the external books was increased, new materilas were purchased and the standard of the professional work raised. 

 The library moved into one of the rooms of the House of Culture in 1961. They could not manage to place the books appropriately here, so both the on-site-use and the reference got difficult. Árpád Balla had been the director of the library that time.

 The leaders of Sárospatak decided, in accordance with the county inspectors, to .... in an appropriate building in 1963. They purchased the private house under Nr 47 Rákóczi street, so that the Village Library could move there. The both in and out renovated building provided an ideal enviornment for serving the patrons and doing the library work. The patrons liked the nice building. Many of them used the library services and they frequently attented the cultural programmes. 

 Sárospatak regained its status on 20th of August 1968, so the previous Village Library could receive its visitors  as Town Library from that day on.

 The next fifteen year brought further development and success. There had been a considerable increes in the library holding and the number of users. The institution had five full-time and six part-time librarians then. 

 A new service was introduced in October 1977: the music department was opened to the public. The new department became very popular with the youth as well as adult patrons who liked music. The library hosted numerous programmes. The students of the librarianship course of Comenius College for Education had their regular library practice there, too. 

 There had been so great an increase in the number of the library materials that it become difficult to place them. The shelves grew overcrowded, there were fewer possibilities to use the books on-site, and it was not easy for the staff, to serve the readers. Veronika Gyurcsák (Mrs. Dr. János Kasuba) had been the director of the Library between 1963 and 1979. 

The Library moved to the first floor of the House of Culture desigend by Imre Makovecz in 1983. It kept its independece and operated as public town library.

 The Town Library, as the central library of the region of 16 villages, had been giving regular help to the village libraries with their forming the collections and organizing cultural programmes from 1985 and organized professional programmes for the leaders of the little settlement libraries. As those regional duties ceased, the regular contact with the village libraries broke. They asked the Town Library for help only occasionally. 

 The library holding increased further. The staff began to build up a system of catalogues in accordance with the rules. They published high-standard books on local and regional history.  

The Library has hosted regional, national and international conferences since 1992. The Association of Zemplenian Librarians as part of the Association of  Hungarian Librarians, was founded in 1994 in Sárospatak. Magdolna Halász was appointed chairwoman and Gábor Kosárkó secretary.

 The number of the visitors and registrated readers increased. The Town Library had 8 full-time librarians in the main building and 12 part-time ones in the branch libraries that time. 

 Besides the usual services (such as loan and on-site use of materials, book reviews, information services, concailing, literary researches, copying audio materials for music and language learning) some new ones such as photocopying, loaning materials for language learning, loan periodicals and art-films, video watching and listening to music on-site. To provide equal access to library services we began to loan larg-print books and talking books for elderly and visually impaired users. 

 The Library turned a new page in 1998. We were the only ones to realize the virtual reading room in the region, using the financial support of almost 4 Million forints we had won in the tenders called by the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage, the Soros Fond, the National Culture Fond and the Széchenyi Project. A free internet access is available for the registrated readers at our six multimedia computers during the opening hours. They can also use the interlibrary loan through the National Document Supply System.

 The Library was named after Ilona Zrínyi, one of the dowagers of Sárospatak with all solemnity on the occasion of the Millennium on the 6th of September 2000.

 We were the only ones  in the region to create a special EU-collection with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2002. The items of this collection are available both for loan and research.

 The Alliance for Informatics and Library made an agreement with the Holding for Regional Development PLC in 2004. In accordance with this, our Library supports the realization of the Projects for National Regional Development and the training programmes for the businessmen in the subregion by providing library material as well as access to the Tender Portal in the Internet.

  The Zrínyi Ilona Town Library became one of the subregional centers in the Zemplén region, in accordance with the Decree Nr. 244/2003 (XII. 18.) of the administraton.  In accordance with the 65/2004. (IV. 15.), it has also provided possibilities for the little settlements to take part in tenders. The realization of the library projects of the Multipurpose Association of the Subregions of Sárospatak prooves those efforts. 15 village libraries of the subregion became ..., thank to the regular help of the Town Library. We effectively co-operate with the librarians of the Hungarian settlements of Bodrogszerdahely and Borsi, Slovakia, too.

 The Library is maintained by the Local Government of the Town of Sárospatak. The Library is a link between the different types of libraries operating in the town. University and college students studying librarianship take part in regular practices in the library. 

 We co-operate effectively with the civil organizations, enterpreneurs as well as the educational institutions and libraries in the town and subregion. 

 The Zrínyi Ilona Town Library has got fruitful international relationships since 1994. The list of our partners include the libraries and civil organzations of the towns of Kassa, Munkács, Beregszász, Marosvásárhely, Újvidék, Szabadka and Muraszombat.

 Zemplén TV, the newspaper Észak-Magyarország (Northern Hungary), the website found under the URL wwww.sarospatak.hu as well as the Catholic Radio and the newspapers within and beyond the boarders of the country give regular reports on the work in the Library. 

 Zrínyi Ilona Town Library has a versatile staff which continue the high-level work of the previous generation and guarant for the virtual library of the 21st century to become true. Magdolna Halász had been the director of the library between 1982 and 2008. 

 The Library turned a new page on 1st of January 2008. The self-government of Sárospatak decided to amalgamate the Town Library and the House of Culture. Mrs. Sándor Kövér took the lead of the Library after the previous director Magdolna Halász had retired. The House and Library and Culture does its best to use the advantages of the amalgamation for the benefit of the users.