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Library Operations Amid COVID-19

We are happy to welcome you back to the library. The library is open to the public though special conditions are temporarily in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to balance providing library services and access to library materials with ensuring the health of library staff and our visitors.

Library Hours and Services

  • The library is open Tuesday – Saturday, 9:30am – 4:00pm.
  • For quick questions or for substantial research projects, contact our librarians directly at library@ncsml.org or 319-362-8500, x120.
  • If you would like on-site research assistance, we strongly recommend making appointments with our librarians at least two business days in advance.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bookshelves are not available for browsing at this time though library staff can retrieve items by request. We also require researchers to wear masks while in the library.

About Collections

The Skala Bartizal Library collects materials pertaining to Czech and Slovak history and culture in a variety of formats. The materials described below provide an overview of the major parts of the library’s holdings. Contact library staff for more information about these collections and other resources of interest.

What We Collect

The Skala Bartizal Library collects library materials that document Czech and Slovak history and culture within both the European and American contexts. The Library also collects materials about other ethnic groups that have had a presence in the Czech and Slovak Lands, namely Germans, Jews, Hungarians, Carpatho-Rusyns and Roma (Gypsies).

The main languages of the collection are English, Czech and Slovak. Preference is given to English-language materials, as available, and materials produced by the Czech-American or Slovak-American community. The Library selectively acquires foreign-language materials published in the Czech Republic, Slovakia or the former Czechoslovakia.

Types of materials we collect:

Books

The book collection includes materials written in English, Czech, and Slovak and covering topics such as history, politics, art, music, literature, and genealogy. Use our online catalog to search for books.

Magazines, Newspapers and Periodicals

The Skala Bartizal Library has a collection of more than 50 current periodicals that are available in the reading room. The library also has a large collection of periodicals that are uncataloged. Contact the library for more information about holdings.

Archives

The Skala Bartizal Library has an extensive archival collection of manuscripts, photographs, personal papers and documents, and organizational records. A few notable collections are described below:

Institutional archives of the Czechoslovak National Council of America (CNCA)

Given to the NCSML by the CNCA in 2002, this collection consists of meeting minutes, correspondence, publications, press releases, member lists, and more. Many materials are in Czech.

Lyra Society sheet music and archives

The NCSML acquired this collection in 1997 from the Lyra Society, a Czech singing group headquartered in Chicago. The majority of this collection consists of songbooks and sheet music in English and Czech; other materials include ledgers, letters, and programs.

Pospishil letters

Forty letters written by John Pospishil while fighting for the Union Army during the Civil War. A native of Bohemia, Pospishil wrote these letters to his parents in Linn County while serving in Company K, 22nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry in Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi. They are written in Czech using German script and have been translated. Digital copies of the letters can be found at the State Library of Iowa web site: Click here to view.

Burian collection

Items collected by Ludvik Burian, a Czech immigrant to America who served as a relief worker for the YMCA in Bratislava during and after the First World War. Materials include wreckage from Milan Stefanik’s fatal plane crash; lantern slides featuring Czechoslovak Legions and Slovak folk life (379 total); a memorial scrapbook; photo-postcards of Czechoslovak Legions; and newspapers published by the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia.

Czechs in Cedar Rapids archival collection

Czechs in Cedar Rapids Finding Aid

Items related to the Czech American experience in Cedar Rapids, Linn County and the greater Iowa area. Collection includes photographs, theater programs, newsletters and other ephemera related to Czech organizations, Czech American families and Czech Village.

NCSML archives

NCSML Archives Finding Aid

Materials related to the Czech Fine Arts Foundation and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. (The Czech Fine Arts Foundation founded the NCSML). This collection consists of two series: materials related to the business of the NCSML and materials related to the events and programs hosted by the NCSML.

Legion Arts/CSPS collection

Legion Arts/CSPS Finding Aid

Items donated to NCSML by the Legion Arts Foundation in Cedar Rapids. Materials in the collection are primarily related to the various CSPS/CSA lodges.

František Kún

František Kún Finding Aid

Items in this collection are related to František Kún, who immigrated to the United States in 1865 and settled on a farm in Tama County, Iowa. He was the first pastor of a small group of Protestants near Ely, Iowa.

Oral Histories

Recording Voices & Documenting Memories of Czech & Slovak Americans

This project recorded over 300 interviews of Czechs and Slovaks who immigrated to the United States during and after the communist era in Czechoslovakia. Formats include digital tapes and .wmv files stored on hard drives. These interviews are available for research and viewing; however, advance notice is preferred so that library staff can convert them to a viewable format. For more about the project, view the Oral History web page.

Czechs in Cedar Rapids

This series, recorded by the Czech Fine Arts Foundation from 1981 to 1986, consists of 28 interviews totaling 32 tapes. Formats include VHS and digital tapes.

Investigating Iowa’s Czech Heritage

These interviews were recorded in eight different communities in Iowa in 2007 and 2008. Formats include digital tapes and DVDs.

Phonograph Records

The Skala Bartizal Library holds the largest collection of Czech and Slovak recorded music outside of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Library’s collection of phonograph records is significant and unique because it documents a continuous 80-year span of Czech and Slovak recorded music, representing a variety of musical genres and playing styles as expressed in the United States and in former Czechoslovakia. Holdings include more than 2,000 78 rpm phonograph records of popular music (mainly polkas, waltzes, and marches) recorded from the 1910s to the 1950s; nearly 1,000 33 rpm LP records of popular and classical music recorded from the 1950s through the 1980s; and 230 45 rpm records of popular music recorded in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact library staff for more information about specific holdings.

Topics of interest include:

  • history and politics
  • community histories
  • biographies
  • immigration
  • folk and fine art
  • folk costumes
  • customs and traditions
  • religion
  • music
  • agriculture
  • food/cooking
  • genealogy
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