City Library "Ivan Goran Kovačić" Karlovac

Mladen Vodička, Boris Morsan, Relja ŠurbatCroatia

The City Library “Ivan Goran Kovačić” is the oldest cultural institution in Karlovac. It was founded during the period of the Illyrian movement, on 1 March 1838 under the name of Ilirsko čitanja društvo (Illyrian Reading Society). The idea was to start a public library for the citizens of Karlovac with the aim of preservation and care for Croatian language, for promotion of literacy, writing and national morale. There are 180 books bearing the Illyrian emblem and dating from that period in the Native Land Section of the library (there were 300 books that made up the initial stock of the Reading Room).
Since 1910 the City government took over the running of the Library and since that time it started working under the name of the City Public Library and Reading Room. In 1948 it changed the name to City Library and in 1963 it was given the name of the well known Croatian author Ivan Goran Kovačić.
In 1952 the library got new accommodation in the building of the First Croatian Savings-bank, and in 1971 it was temporarily moved to 8 Banjavčićeva Street (where up until that time the Reference and the Music sections were housed).
Ongoing housing problems created a need to come up with a long term solution and so in 1970 the City Library, in cooperation with the National and University Library, proposed a building programme that envisaged the construction of a building that would satisfy the needs of the library and the city over the next half a century. Built from a project made by an architect, Mladen Vodička, the first phase of the new library was opened in 1976 in the New Centre part of town and it housed all the sections and services. It was the first public library designed and built for that purpose in Croatia and in this part of Europe. The second phase of building and the finalisation of the project (with some adaptations made by architects Boris Morsan and Relja Šurbat) opened during the Month of Croatian Books on 15 October 2007.
The Library has the following sections: Information-Lending Section, Reference Section, Home Land Section, Children’s and Youth Section, Play Group Section, Music Section, Library Bus Section, Purchasing and Administration Section, Head office, The Slovenian Central Library, Bookbinding, and the dislocated sections: The Youth Library and the Library and Reading Room Švarča.
Karlovac was the first city in Croatia to offer Library Bus services – in 1911 the books were transported in wooden crates, by a coach (four - wheeler) to the nearby settlements to be read.
The City Library “Ivan Goran Kovačić” is also involved in publishing. Between 2000 and 2008 we have published round 80 titles written by authors from Karlovac, as well as books that deal with Karlovac from different angles (literature, non-fiction, children’s books, science books).
Our motto: “Library – your home away from home”.

Title of library in local language

Gradska knjižnica “Ivan Goran Kovačić”

Year of completion



Ljudevita Šestića 1
47 000 Karlovac

Size of library: 

Category of library

Public Library

Awards and recommended reading

Gradska knjižnica "Ivan Goran Kovačić", Karlovac : 1838.-2008. : prilozi za povjesnicu. Karlovac : Gradska knjižnica "Ivan Goran Kovačić", 2008.

Interior design

Mladen Vodička, Dražen Juračić, Boris Morsan, Relja Šurbat

Furniture supplier

Primat-RD d.o.o., Stolarija Lipošćak

Overall Cost

€ 2.989.300
Front of building: 
Side of building: