The library of the Hungarian National Film Archive is the national specialist library of film, the purpose and task of which is collection of the entirety of film science and film art documents printed in Hungary, as well as specialist material belonging to film techniques, film industry, policy and distribution.

The library was established in 1957, at the same time as the foundation of the Institute of Theatre and Film Science: the core of its stock came from documents transferred from the Theatre and Film Art Society and the Film Directorate operating in the Ministry of Public Education. It became an independent collection on 1 April 1959, after the Institute of Theatre Science and Film Science split.

Parallel with the change in the function and status of the library, so its collection has also gradually expanded. Whereas its initial task was merely to serve the work of the Hungarian Institute of Film Science and Film Archive and lend support to its researchers, during the 1980s and 1990s acquisitions became more planned alongside the Archive’s extensive book and periodical publishing and teaching activities. After the Archive was converted into a public collection (1992), the library was classified as a national specialist library in Act CXL of 1997 on the Protection of Cultural Goods. Since 1998, it is also the collection centre for legal deposits of screenplays of films made in Hungary.

The initial stock comprised 800 books, 600 screenplays, 500 periodicals and approximately 800 manuscripts; today, these figures have increased to more than 20,000 books, nearly 3200 manuscripts, and 572 different periodical titles (in more than 3000 volumes), and around 4400 screenplays.

photo: Zoltán Kerekes

Over the course of the years, two large part-stocks moved to the library, initially as part of the documentation collection made for in-house use: the approximately 5700 film character, so-called personal dossiers, and the nearly 15,000-piece (13,000 foreign and 2000 Hungarian) feature film-related dossier, containing reviews, critiques and newspaper cuttings. The constantly growing collection of synchronization and dialogue lists belonging to films represents a separate section, not to mention the around 1200 folders of the archive of articles from Hungarian and international festivals and film days.

Soon after the foundation, the Andor Lajta bequest found its way into the library (1962), and this initial legacy has over the decades been followed by those of another 20 experts in the film profession, from Félix Máriássy through Péter Székelyi to lexicon editor Péter Ábel. The increasingly intensive retrospective processing of parts of the collections continues to this day.

The library’s special catalogue by film classification is added to day by day and is accessible online. Searches in foreign periodicals published after 1972 are assisted by the FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals database, which can be used at the Archive.