There are no existing libraries in Bosnia and Herzegovina which have a specialist collection of medieval documents, manuscripts or incunabula. Most of these materials from the Middle Ages have been destroyed, removed or lost after the Ottoman conquest in 1463. Some books remained in Franciscan monasteries, but they were also subsequently lost in fires during the 17th and 18th centuries. Apart from that, priceless documentation and books were destroyed during the war which destroyed Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995.
National and University Library, Sarajevo
The National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in 1945 and was, at least for a period of time, the biggest and most important library in the country. During the shelling of Sarajevo, the Library was targeted and in August of 1992 it was hit and around 90% of the library’s books and materials were burned in the fire which consumed the building. After the war ended, there have been numerous attempts to reconstruct and rebuild the priceless heritage which was lost in the fire, but these have been only partially successful. It still has a rich manuscript collection and holds some of the oldest printed books (4 incunabula) from the territory of former Yugoslavia.
National and University Library of Republic of Srpska, Banja Luka
The National and University Library of Republic of Srpska in Banja Luka was formed in 1999, on the basis of the National and University Library “Petar Kočić” which was founded in 1980. Prior to that this library was known as the National Library of King Peter I the Great Liberator established in 1935.
Library of the Bosniac Institute, Sarajevo
The library of the Bosniac institute consists of around 100 000 books on all aspects of culture and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It holds many private libraries and specialist collections of famous Bosnian historians. One of the most famous documents in its archives is the papal bull of pope Eugene IV from 1439.
Library of the Franciscan Monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska
The library and archives of the Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska are a rich source for the research of cultural and ecclesiastical history. They possess a great number of documents ranging from the 15th to the 19th century. The most famous document it keeps is the charter of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus from 1481. It also holds 31 incunabula, which is more than half of all incunabula in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of its books date from the 16th century onwards.
Library of the Franciscan Monastery in Fojnica
The library of the Franciscan monastery in Fojnica was burnt in a fire in 1664 when all of its books and materials were lost. After the monastery was renovated, the library fund was also rebuilt. The library possesses 13 incunabula, and a lot of books on philosophy, theology, medicine, history, geography etc. dating from the 16th century onwards. One of the most famous books in this library is the Fojnica Armorial (Fojnički grbovnik) from the 17th century. This armorial is in fact a copy of an older one whose origins are thought to be from the Middle Ages.