Worth to know about the ELTE University Library. János Garay, the assistant librarian and the beginnings of the library guard duty

In his letter to his parents (09.08.1845) Garay wrote about his new job as assistant librarian, which at the time was a brand new position. He mentions that in 3-4 years another new position will be created: custos a.k.a. librarian guard. The assistants worked from 9 am to 2 pm, had the afternoon off and didn’t have to work on Sundays and Mondays.

Garay’s career started on the 1st of July 1845. However, things did not progress the way he anticipated. In his letter to his little brother, Alajos he complains about this and the lack of salary as well. The poet Garay had a lot of problem with the inconsistent and low amount of salary, he had to get an undertenant by necessity. (He could have been arrested for this.)

The year 1848 (when the freedom fight started) brought great changes. Education minister Eötvös appointed Garay to a teacher of Hungarian grammar and literature at the university. Garay has not had any former teaching experience so he had to work hard, succeeding eventually: he became an official professor in the summer of 1848 and received a salary of 1200 guldens. However the promising teaching carrier sadly ended shortly due to the fights. After laying down arms the university building was still used as a hospital, thus making the start of a new semester very unsure.

Garay was appointed (the first ever) library guard in 1850 and lived in the library building, but not for long. He was seriously ill by 1852 and died one year later. His funereal was on the library’s patio held on the 8th of November 1853. His grave can be found in the Kerepesi cemetery, parcel nr. 29/1-1-38. The honorary monument was made by the famous Gerenday firm.

Based on Edit Kazimír's article


Source/author of illustration:
ELTE ULS (Photo: Ágnes Ágai)