An expat's guide to Brno libraries
The month of March is devoted to books, readers and libraries in the Czech Republic. This tradition dates back to 1955. Here’s a list of expat-friendly libraries in Brno for you bookworms out there!
Moravian library (Moravská zemská knihovna – MZK, Kounicova 65a)
Founded in 1808, MZK is the second largest library in the Czech Republic – with over 4 million books. Primarily aiming to support research, it covers a wide range of areas such as humanities, (social) science, technology, medicine etc., all accessible through an online catalogue.
Registered members can use a reading room with an impressive stock of newspapers and magazines (Czech and foreign) and access a number of licensed databases. Perhaps the most interesting part of the library for expats is the second floor with foreign libraries: English, German, Austrian. They also have an American Corner with lectures and free movie nights.
At MZK you can borrow books, dictionaries, teaching / study materials, magazines, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and more. It is possible to pre-register online and finish the registration in person. And while you’re at it, pop in the café on the ground floor! You can learn more about MZK in this video.
Jiří Mahen Library (Knihovna Jiřího Mahena – KJM, Kobližná 4)
Another must is the Jiří Mahen Library named after a writer, publisher, librarian and all in all important figure of Brno cultural life in between the two world wars. It is the largest municipal library in Moravia, with a number of branches around Brno.
Unlike MZK, which is focused on study, KJM has a more familial and relaxed feel to it. The majority of books and magazines are stored on easily accessible shelves and there is also a children’s section. One can just stroll, pick a book that looks interesting and sit down with it for a while.
The collection of books in foreign languages (English, French, German, Spanish and others) is somewhat smaller than in MZK but still worth a look. The crowd-puller here is the music section with a large selection of CDs, DVDs and audiobooks (in both Czech and English). Registered members can listen to them on the spot or take (most of them) home without any extra fee. The complete catalogue (also in English and German) is accessible online once you have registered in person.
Masaryk University libraries
The libraries of Masaryk University are primarily used by students and academics, but they are also open to the public. Just register! Even though the rules for non-academic users vary from library to library, usually the materials can only be used inside the library. Also, there is usually no access to the internet and licensed databases for the public.
Österreich Institute, Alliance française and British Council
Brno is home to three language institutes – Österreich Institute, British Council and Alliance française. There you can also find foreign language books, teaching / study and AV materials. Again, registration is needed before you can borrow anything.
Österreich Institute and British Council only have a limited selection of materials offered on the spot but actively cooperate with the Austrian and British sections of the Moravian Library. But in Médiathèque – the library of Alliance Française – they offer an interesting selection of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs in French language.