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CZ has a lot of libraries says NYT … great

Book tower in The Prague Municipal Library at Marianske Square. Photo: Wikicommons

PRAGUE – Lowering the bar for us all, The New York Times seems to think that the most interesting thing about the country known today as Czechia is just why are there are so many libraries here – about 5,340 in all.

In a sentence, the construction of libraries became mandatory in 1919 a year after the country became independent. But instead of leaving the trivia night factoid be, the standard-bearer for international quality reporting thought it necessary to write it up, sourcing a survey released by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in March 2013. Umm, okay.

In rehashing the dated report, the article shows that the country has the densest library per capita ratio in the world – one library for every 1,971 Czechs. By comparison, the US has one library for every 19,583 Americans. After having been bombarded with footage from the Republican national convention this week, we can hardly say the statistic is startling.

While perhaps this was not the most stunning piece of journalism, it is worth noting just what heavy readers we all are here. Of course, it may not be any wonder that the country is a literature haven, having produced literary giants such as Franz Kafka, Vaclav Havel, Karel Čapek, Jaroslav Seifert and Vladimir Holan, to name but a few.

The Czech reading culture was well ingrained before and indeed survived in spite of a severe Communist government not so keen on the ole page-turners. The country burns through on average more than 11 books a year, which the number of readers on any peak hour metro ride would appear to verify.

Get your read on at:


Křižovnická 190, Praha 1

The Klementinum is the Prague Castle of libraries in the capital. Be prepared for old, grand and ‘I hope I don’t break that’.

Městská knihovna v Praze

Mariánské náměstí 1

This is a local city library, membership will be required, but is highly recommended for its selection and the cute café attached.

American Centre Library

Tržiště 13

Possibly the largest English-language library selection in Prague.

Honourable mentions go to the Goethe-Institut, Prague Multicultural Centre Library, Carlos Fuentes Library, and Průhonice Library for those with kiddies.

Also the list would not be complete without mentioning a few of the best bookstores and antikvariáty – or secondhand bookstores in Prague.


Pštrossova 6

Large bookstore and – conveniently – bar. Expansive English-language selection of new books for purchase.

Café Rybka

Křemencova Street

Owned by Czech publishing house Rybka Publishers, your crowns purchasing new books here go to supporting more locally grown talent. However this is for advanced level gamers only, all books are in Czech.

Shakespeare a Synové

Krymská 12

Wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, comics, new, used and a variety of languages. Give yourself a bit of time and get prepared to dig.


Bohemist is an upstart news outlet serving the Czech Republic. Feel free to write us at editor@bohemist.cz.

About Bohemist

Bohemist is an upstart news outlet serving the Czech Republic. Feel free to write us at editor@bohemist.cz.

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