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Serbia has rich literary heritage which makes an inseparable part of the country’s history and tradition. Through ages, libraries came to be one of the pillars of its statehood and people. Nowadays, Serbia has many libraries that are keeping up with modern library science trends and trying to attract new readers.
There are several dozens of libraries in Belgrade. They are generally well-equipped and try to renew their offer. Nearly each elementary and secondary school has its own library, as do faculties. Depending on the subject field of study, most university libraries offer books in foreign languages. These also offer a place to study, and are crammed during the exam periods.
Belgrade itself boasts several well-stocked libraries, scattered across the city:
- The National Library of Serbia, which happens to be the oldest cultural institution of the modern day Serbia, has a vast collection of books. It is located across the Church of Saint Sava, and offers 300 places in 6 reading rooms.
- One of its projects is the foundation of the Center of the Virtual Library of Serbia. It is an intersection point where electronic catalogs of all libraries in Serbia meet. Here, you can simply enter the term/keyword and the service will enlist the titles, language, the availability of copies and the library from which you can borrow it.
- Belgrade City Library, found at the end of the Knez Mihailova Street, just across the Kalemegdan Fortress, offers an extensive volume of books. It operates through 13 departments that are found in 80 locations across the city. It is also a gathering point where cultural and media events take place.
- Svetozar Marković University Library is the biggest university library in the country. It is primarily intended for students, researches and professors, but others are welcome to join and read or do research in one of the reading rooms.
Apart from these, Belgrade offers many more libraries. The easiest way to access them all is through the said Virtual Library catalog.
With similar purpose than the Serbian libraries mentioned above, Belgrade also has a good offer from foreign cultural centers well established in the capital. Even though you can find different services in their program, libraries are among their primary offer.
- American Corner is an information outpost that organizes events, gatherings, conversation classes, novels and magazines, among other. There are currently two Corners in Serbia – in Belgrade and Novi Sad. It also has a library and reading room. You can see the new book arrivals here.
- Cervantes Institute is an institution established by the Spanish government. Its work in Serbia is to promote Spanish language, literature and culture. It offers language courses and has its own library. The Institute offers a mobile app so that you can scan through the catalog and see if there is something to your liking.
- As part of the French Cultural Center, which works on promoting and presenting the contemporary French oeuvre abroad, the mediatheque is a place that offers books, magazines, press and encyclopedia. You can also search for the desired title online.
- Goethe Institute aims to promote and teach German language and culture across the globe. It participates in cultural and language projects to help spread cultural diversity. The Institute offers a library and you can check out its catalog here.
- Italian Culture Institute offers 16,000 book titles, spanning literature, philosophy, religion, technology, and sciences. After you become a member of the library, you also get access to the Media Library On Line, the first network of Italian state libraries. The Institute also has an online catalog.
- Scandinavian Corner is an organization that promotes Scandinavian culture and values, by organizing language courses, film projection, conversation workshops and offering a library with works of Nordic authors. You can check out the library catalog online, with instructions to assist you.
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN
The city also offers several places where you can flick through and buy books, be it a chain of fancy bookshops, family-run publishing houses or street booksellers who offer fine second-hand books on their outdoor stalls. Most of these are found near Studentski trg, nestled in small streets that surround the faculties of philosophy and philology, but also near the Kalemegdan fortress or the Nikola Pašić Square.
Throughout the year, there are also bazaars of second-hand or brand new books, where you can get a generous discount, so look out for these. Most large bookstores have book clubs that you can join and get info about meetings or literary events.
- English Bookshop is specialized in English language literature, including fiction, bestsellers, non-fiction, architecture, art, world classics, dictionaries and ELT materials. It is one of the oldest publishers of foreign books in Serbia and many private and public schools rely on the teaching materials they sell.
- Vulkan is a massive chain of 17 bookstores that sell books on a great bunch of topics and different languages.
- Delfi is a literature behemoth, offering over 50,000 book titles in 35 bookstores, and a solid collection of books in foreign languages.
If you like to scout around for books, there are few book shops/cafes that might be worth the visit:
- Apropo is a cozy little place in the city center that combines a selection of books on theoretical literature, psychology, philosophy, mythology and arts with fine tea and cats.
- Leila is a record and book shop that also helps cultural events and aspiring artists come to spotlight.
These are just some tips on the literary plate of Belgrade but you will surely run into other treats it has to offer.