Nobody knows when books first appeared in Opatówek. We can suppose that a book collection had been gathered in the Gniezno archbishops' castle during almost 500 years of its existence. It served resident archbishops as well as other church dignitaries and their guests. Moreover, the collection existence is very probable, because at the castle trials were held, sentences and court decisions were pronounced. Unfortunately, there is no trace of the library in inventories from 1557, 1652, 1685 and 1785. All that was described there, was the building as well as its rooms and facilities condition. The books may have been kept in the treasury, which was situated on the first floor.
The governor Józef Zajączek and his wife Aleksandra gathered a big book collection at their palace in Opatówek. The collection numbered 1236 volumes. These were mostly multi-volume French books. The collection included works of Greek, Roman and French classics. There were also historical, legal, medical, philosophical books, travellers' reports, memoirs, commentaries and love stories which were undoubtedly collected by Aleksandra Zajączek. The works connected with the history and theory of war were owned by the general. After Józef Zajączek had died, the book collection, according to his will, was handed to Józef Radoszewski. The next Opatówek proprietor and his heirs were well-educated people and kept a modern, model farm and they probably enriched the collection by professional books on agriculture. In the meantime, the books from the Opatówek palace, gathered mainly due to the governor and his wife's interests, dispersed and we do not know anything about their lots.
The owners of the Opatówek property, the Schlössers, had also their collection. The books were situated in 4 cabinets, their bindings were maroon, and there were golden initials on their backs. The books were mostly in German, but there were also some Polish classics. It happened many times that the squire lent books to some of his workers who liked to read. We do not know what happened with this collection after the World War Two. A part was probably dispersed, because single Schlössers' books are found in possession of Opatówek inhabitants.
The most valuable book collection which ever existed in Opatówek, was Stefan Giller's collection. There was surely a library in the Giller family's house. We can expect it because of Jan Kanty Giller's education (he graduated from the Krzemieniec Junior High, which had been famous for its high education level) as well as because of interests and lots of his sons: Agaton and Stefan. Stefan Giller, who worked as a Polish literature professor at schools in Kalisz, formed a huge and valuable collection. He was lending his books to his students and friends, which fact is mentioned in his letters. After he had retired and settled down in his family house in Opatówek, Stefan Giller took his collection with him. After his death, a local teacher, Alfons Jaskułowski, looked after the books. However, the collection was dispersing gradually. Its remainders were discovered in the loft of the Giller family's house in November 1997. Most books, subject to bad weather conditions, fell apart. The oldest and the most valuable remained in a good condition, thanks to the good quality of paper. They are: Gladius evaginatus pro defensione - the book printed in the Jesuit printing house in Kalisz in 1752 and Hipolit i Andromacha, translated by Andrzej Morsztyn, published by the Słowiński's printing house in Leipzig in 1725. Other valuable books are: the Rocznik naukowo-literacko-artystyczny na rok 1905 with Stefan Giller's hand-written notes, the Wieczory Wielkopolanina - the book published by Agaton Giller anonymously in 1882 in Lviv, The Jana Kazimierza Wazy więzienie we Francyi vol. 2 - the book published in the Józef Węcki's printing house in 1828, excerpts from the Polish Language Dictionary, published probably in 18th or in the first half of the 19th century, The Poezye ostatniej godziny by Władysław Syrokomla, published by Gustaw Sennewald in 1862 and other books which may come from the Giller's collection. There are also prints from Kalisz, e.g. the Polak za granicą - the supplement to the Kalendarz na Szkołę Rzemiosł w Kaliszu from the "Gazeta Kaliska" Printing House from 1908, as well as two calendars of Kalisz, from 1903 and 1917. There are also single pages from some valuable but, unfortunately, destroyed books.
Stefan Giller was forming not only his own collection. He also took a great part in setting up a Literature Novelties Reading Room in Kalisz in 1874. In December 1905 he offered a room in his house to set up a folk house and a public reading room there. These institutions were organised by the fire brigade chief in Opatówek, Bronisław Korejwo. The local parish rector, the Reverend Adam Marczewski, Alfons Parczewski, who gave a speech to Opatówek inhabitants, gathered in large numbers, as well as probably Stefan Giller participated in the opening and consecration. Unfortunately, no information concerning the reading room activity remained.
The first available information about Opatówek schools' book collections comes from the Opatówek Primary Catholic School inventory (Szkoła Elementarna Katolicka) prepared in 1856. The school owned, among others, a cabinet with books, in which following titles could be found.:
- Ustawa przez Nayiasniejszego Pana wydana - 1 item
- Instrukcya dla nauczyciela - 2 items
- Wykład metod Lankastra - 1 item
- Metoda Erkla dla szkół - 4 items
- Wiadomości o ratowaniu osób - 1 item
- Dziełko dla kończących [?] nauki - 1 item
- "Kmiotek" from 1846-1848 - 1 item
- "Magazyn dla dzieci" - 3 volumes
- Dziadek i Wójkowie - 2 items [Wujkowie]
- Życie Pana Jezusa - 1 item
- Podarunek Wuja - 1 item
- Pan Wojciech - 2 item
In 1858 the school book collection was enriched by "Czytelnia Niedzielna" and in 1863 by course books for Geography, Polish and German grammar, Arithmetic, History, Art as well as a Russian reading primer. Some other books were gained, e.g. Przypadki Robinsona, Powieści moralne dla włościan, Pielgrzym w Dobromilu. Some of them, according to the teacher Roliński, disappeared or were partly destroyed. Thus, books from this small collection were not only read; they were even desired.
The Teacher Preparating School (Preparanda Nauczycielska) and then the Baby-Sitters Seminary and the next primary schools had probably their own book collections. Teachers as well as students used them. However, the modest collections were insufficient for some ambitious teachers who tried to set up their own collections. We can mention Adolf Plötzke - the man of wide-ranging interests and skills. In his collection not only school and pedagogical course books could be found, but, above all, books of many disciplines: Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Biology, Mechanics, Geography, History etc. There were also scores, Polish and German magazines and "Teach yourself" books for different European languages.
On September 23, 1901 the national Russian-Polish library was set up at the Commune Office in Opatówek. Foundation of such institutions was initiated by the Russian authorities and the communes mayors had to make reports on the libraries activity to the district authorities. In Opatówek Stanisław Maron, the commune writer, was the librarian until 1905; he was replaced by the commune secretary Aleksander Pawelec, who kept this post probably until the beginning of the World War One. Unfortunately, there are no data in the reports which might indicate how big the library was and how popular it was with Opatówek inhabitants.
About 1906 the Polish Circle (Koło Macierzy Polskiej) was founded; its first president was the local parish priest, the Reverend Adam Marczewski PhD. A. Łapsz was in charge of the library organised by the circle. However, we do not have any information about this library.
At the same time the Opatówek fire brigade library was created. It was set up under the Kalisz Governor's decree from 22.06.1907. It was opened on November 9, 1907 in the new-built fire station. It was kept by the fire brigade chief, Bronisław Korejwo. The library experienced some difficulties, though; it was closed in 1911 due to lack of a librarian.
During the World War One and before that only the most enlightened citizens of Opatówek were reading on a regular basis; those were mostly people who were subscribed to magazines. Some of magazines, like "Tygodnik Ilustrowany", "Gazeta Kaliska", "Kurier Kaliski" rewarded their readers with books. Evenings with a book among family members or neighbours were not rare. Meeting books' protagonists during the long winter evenings, by a dim light of the oil lamp, influenced development of a vivid imagination, especially in case of the youngest readers. The most popular were books by Sienkiewicz and Kraszewski, The Lives of Saints, melodramas as well as news and rumours from "Gazeta Świąteczna", "Goniec Kaliski" and other magazines subscribed or borrowed from neighbours and friends.
The first library set up especially for Opatówek inhabitants was the parish library, founded in 1917 thanks to books offered by the Reverend Adam Marczewski. The library, which consisted of a few bookshelves, was situated in the St. Anne's Chapel and, at the beginning, was attended by Henryk Pawłowski, later by women, members of the National Women's Organisation (Narodowa Organizacja Kobiet) as well as the Catholic Association of Female Youth (Katolickie Stowarzyszenie Młodzieży Żeńskiej). The library not only lent books, but mediated also in subscribing the catholic press for Opatówek inhabitants. At the beginning of the twenties they were subscribing 65 issues of "Przewodnik Katolicki". Other magazines, such as "Zorza" and "Gwiazda Polska" were subscribed at the post office. In the thirties the parish library was situated in a three-storey house in the Kościelna Street and owned by the fabric factory earlier. Between the World Wars it was probably the richest library in Opatówek, available to all inhabitants.
Some of organizations acting in Opatówek between the World Wars had also their small book collections. The fire brigade had its own collection, so did the organization "Sokół". The National Women's Organization (Narodowa Organizacja Kobiet), which was founded in 1922, deemed development of the country women's knowledge and awareness to be one of its goals. It was realized by self-study courses, lectures on current and historical topics as well as reading development. The library had the motto: "The book in an organization is like a sword in a war. The winners will be those who like books and know how to use them". The organization was even publishing a magazine "Gazetka dla kobiet". In 1926 the library possessed 63 volumes, in 1935 - 160. A part was offered by Zofia Schlősser, the owner of a property in Opatówek. NOK was also subscribing such magazines like: "ABC Kaliskie", "Goniec Kaliski", "Kobieta w świecie i w domu", "Matka i dziecko", "Świat". Some periodicals, like "Bluszcz", were subscribed, due to economical reasons, together with the "Sokół" organization. The book collection and the magazine volumes were stored at Mrs. Jaskuła's flat in the main square. We can however read in the reports that at some points members occupied with their activities did not have time to read book from their library.
In 1918-39 book collections in Opatówek were small and dispersed. There were not any professional librarians to collect and rent books; these tasks were realized by social activists and teachers. The District Moving Library from Kalisz (Powiatowa Biblioteka Ruchoma) was also active in Opatówek. Houses, where books were read, were not numerous but families who owned and read books as well as magazines, who needed to develop knowledge and education, were those among the local elite. Reading places, created by some inhabitants in their houses provided the readers and the listeners with many literary experiences. They were, as the amateur theatre groups, choirs and orchestras, an evidence of the direct participation of Opatówek inhabitants in the cultural life.
The World War Two cancelled the organizations activity. Their book collections were dispersed. The private collections suffered, too. One day German soldiers threw many Polish books away from the wagons at the railway station and set them on fire. At night, some brave young people crept up the burning pile to take away few valuable volumes. Nowadays we can find only single copies coming from Opatówek collections from before the war period.
During the first years after the World War Two Opatówek inhabitants were absorbed with the suppression of the war's results and organizing their lives in the new political and social reality. This time was not favourable for book matter or for the culture. However, at the end of the forties Polish people began to set up public libraries which aimed at helping education to combat the illiteracy.
On July 31, 1948 the Communal Council of the Nation (Gminna Rada Narodowa) in Opatówek passed a resolution on setting up a library. At the beginning, it was located in a small room in the Communal Office building (nowadays it is the chemist's) and was equipped just with a desk. The control over the library was entrusted to teachers for whom it was an additional work, not always paid. The first 500 books were registered in the inventory on April 7, 1949. They were mostly Polish and foreign classical books, suggested readings, popular science books and books for children. One of the teachers, probably Adela Stolarczyk, looked after the collection. She was followed by Maria Wiewiórkowska who was registering books sent from the district library into the inventory and then she was renting them. All these tasks were done on Sundays because library was not able to pay its employees. Books were laid on the floor, and later, in an old cabinet. At that time part of the books was sent to different reading places around the district.
Maria Wiewiórkowska was followed by others, who were taking care of the library as a part time job, until 1951 when Irena Żulicka began her full-time work at the library. She encountered a 1600 volumes collection (1000 listed in the inventory). After a few years the library and the common room were transferred to a building at Wolności Square, where the former commune office was situated before the World War Two. Year after year, the collection was being enriched thanks to centralized purchases. The library had 7 reading places: in Borów, Szulec, Cienia I, Cienia II, Trojanów, and the biggest two: Szałe and Tłokinia Wielka. Books for the reading places were coming from Kalisz District Library, but it was the librarian from Opatówek who worked there. There were more and more readers and borrowers; the true library had been created. However, many books at that time were of an ideological character, Polish socrealistic literature and translations of Soviet classic.
Unfortunately, the young library which was becoming popular with the readers existed only until 1955. After country's administrative reform the library was transferred to Szulec to the folk house, built by its inhabitants during the between-wars period. At this time Irena Żulicka resigned and she was replaced by Stefania Górecka. The collection numbered 2600 volumes at that time and during the Szulec period grew up to 4000 books. The Szulec library also organized reading places, among others, in Opatówek. That reading place was situated where the former library was. An amateur theatre, lead by Zdzisław Zawadzki, was performing there. It was acting out such ambitious plays as Zemsta by A. Fredro. Opatówek inhabitants could feel the lack of a library, though. The town started to gather new collection and employed a librarian. At that period the library workers were: Zdzisław Zawadzki, Stefania Kostowska and Zdzisław Bąkowski.
In June 1962 Mirosława Łyszczak began her work at the library, which numbered 1899 books. After a year, the collection was transferred to Szulec and then, in 1964, to Sierzchów where it became the beginning of a new library, which exists until present days in Tłokinia Wielka. The books gathered earlier in Szulec returned to Opatówek. The activity of the Communal Public Library in Opatówek was based on a charter imposed by the Culture and Art Minister's decree from August 8, 1956. In the mid-sixties the library had already two rooms. The collection, which numbered over 5000 books in 1965, was placed in 7 cabinets in a small room. The big room was a reading room, serving also as a common room. It registered 400 - 550 readers per year and 4000 - 5600 of lent books. There were already 5 reading places in: Tłokinia Wielka, Tłokinia Kościelna, Cienia I, Cienia II and Michałów II. They were run as community service by housewives and teachers. The place in Michałów II excelled, where the teacher Maria Królewicz busied herself with the cultural and educational activity. Thanks to reading places the Opatówek library was able to execute imposed reading plans. Most readers were registered at the reading places. The collection in Opatówek was big enough to provide the reading places with books. The library conducted a modest cultural and education activity aimed at children and participated in national holidays by organizing literature expositions.
An increased activity in library began in 1967-70, when Krystyna Dziedzic started to work there. The collection raised to 7500 volumes. At this time 1000 readers on average were enrolled yearly in the library and the reading places, 50% of readers still belonged to the reading places. Meeting with writers were organized. A writer, Janusz Teodor Dybowski, visited the library in 1967; in December 1969 a writer from Kalisz, Eligiusz Walczak, came across a warm reception due to his close relations with Opatówek and his works dedicated to this town, like poems: Powrót, Opatówek, Do Stefana z Opatówka, short stories: Niobe małego miasteczka, Zimowy wieczór and others.
Ideological talks and courses were characteristic for this period. Apart from that, lecturers from the General Knowledge Association (Towarzystwo Wiedzy Powszechnej) delivered lectures on the agriculture, medicine, veterinary medicine, history, law etc. which were very popular with the inhabitants. The library celebrated, like other institutions, different literary and political anniversaries, e.g. "Book Days", "Social and Political Book Days", "Soviet Book Days" etc.
The work in the library was underestimated; the conditions were harsh. At the beginning, there was shortage of furniture and toilets. The librarians had to warm themselves up with coal stoves; they had to do the cleaning as well as to transport books by bicycle to distant reading points. They were often forced to do community service, not always connected with their job. Problems with functioning of library were also caused by transfers of the collections, books disperse in many reading points and the losses of volumes connected with it, many personal changes and a lack of highly trained staff.
In September 1971 Magdalena Krytkowska started her work at the library; she had graduated from a librarian college and later she had completed the librarian studies. In 1972 the library obtained a possibility to employ another librarian, and Maria Korzeniowska took the post. Starting then the Opatówek library developed significantly its activity. Documentation was put in order, a complete catalogue, as well as a children's and youths' book catalogue, were created. A quick increase in the number of readers was noticed. In 1975 the record number of reader, 1575, was registered in the library and its reading places.. They borrowed 26676 books. According to the projects, the reading points number increased, too. They were 13 in 1975. In 1974-78 the readers from the reading points presented 45 % of the total and they borrowed 38% of books. The collection grew bigger every year. The books were still bought by the central institutions. There were also more and more subscribed magazines, they were 27 in 1979. In 1988 the collection reached 15500 books. Not only the number of readers was growing; the library was able to buy new bookshelves and other furniture as well as a typing machine, a calculator and a duplicator.
The library also developed its educational activity. It invited in 1971-86 such writers as: Stanisław Goszczurny, Gerard Górnicki, Czesław Michniak Aleksander Minkowski, Eugeniusz Paukszta, Marian Reniak, historian and journalist - Bogumił Kunicki, Russian literature translator - Andrzej Mandalian, traveller - Bronisław Dostatni, librarian and historian - Marian Walczak as well as editors Maria Czernik and Wiesława Mroczek. These meeting were organized mainly in cooperation with the Modern Housewife Centre ("Nowoczesna Gospodyni"), operating at the Commune Farmers' Cooperative (Gminna Spółdzielnia "Samopomoc Chłopska") in Opatówek. The library organized meeting with politics; cooperated with such associations as: TPPR, Liga Kobiet, ZHP, ZSMW, Koło Emerytów i Rencistów. It was also the place for councillors' as well as the Committee for 850 Years of Opatówek Jubilee workers meetings.
The librarians took actions in order to popularize reading among children: they organized reading contests, tale evenings, visits to the library, the library lessons, book exhibitions etc. That way the library had good results and gained prizes in different public library contests.
In the late eighties there were some changes of staff. When Maria Korzeniowska left in 1985 and Magdalena Krytkowska in 1986, they were replaced by Barbara Sulwińska and then by Jadwiga Buncler - Miluśka. Both did not have any librarian education at the time. Although the library was well organized, their debut was not easy: the opening hours were shortened and the new librarians were inexperienced. In 1989 Jadwiga Buncler completed postgraduate librarian studies, and so did Barbara Sulwińska in 1996. In 1988 Barbara Sulwińska began a 4-year long child care leave; she was replaced by Helena Andrzejewska until 1992.
The librarians tried to continue the hitherto activity of the library, but they were buying new books individually instead of providing the library with books from central institutions, which allowed for adapting the collection to readers' needs. In the nineties, the collection was decreased, the spoiled, outdated and spare books were sold. In 1998 the collection numbered 17800 volumes. The collection structure had changed, too. Popular science books became more numerous because this kind of literature was in demand among readers, especially students.
In February 1991 the library has been transferred to a bigger place in the historical building at 18 Wolności Square where the chemist's and the kindergarten are placed. Storage and work conditions improved. In October 1997 the Opatówek library bought a computer with money granted by the commune council. This library was the first to process a database in the area of Kalisz.
There were two branches at that moment: in Rajsko (since 1950) and in Tłokinia Wielka (the collection created in 1959-75 in Sierzchów was transferred in 1975 to Tłokinia Kościelna and then, in 1986, to Tłokinia Wielka). The librarians in Rajsko were: Zofia Tomiec (1977-85), Anna Waszak (1985-86) and Danuta Sieradzka (since 1986). Alicja Pilich was librarian in Tłokinia Kościelna; Józefa Kott, Elżbieta Majewska, Halina Pływaczyk and since 2000 Magdalena Misiak worked in the library in Tłokinia Wielka. The branch in Rajsko, which was placed at school, owned 9610 volumes in 2003 and served to 410 readers who borrowed 11711 books. The branch in Tłokinia Wielka, which was placed at the former school, owned 9516 volumes in 2003 and served to 271 readers who borrowed 3493 books. Both branches began to create library databases in 2004.
In the nineties the number of libraries was decreasing year after year. After the communal libraries had been taken over by the town councils in 1991, there was not such care to maintain and create new libraries anymore. In 2004 there are only 2 reading points left: at the primary school in Cienia II, where books from the communal library complete the modest school collection, as well as at the Opatówek kindergarten where books are useful for working with children. The points are served by Olga Woźniak and Mirosława Gałach. In 2003 readers from reading points represented 5,4 % of the total and borrowed 3,39 % of books.
In the nineties and after 2000 the number of readers and borrowed books have been constantly growing. In 2003 1931 readers and 35943 borrowed books were registered. Children and youths were the most significant group.
On March 24, 1990 the Opatówek Lovers Association (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Opatówka) was set up. From the beginning its activity has been strictly connected with the library. Meetings of the Association's (it has not its own seat) have been held in the library. It was also the place where the editorial staff of the monthly "Opatowianin" - the cultural, historical and social magazine - met. It has been published until present times (in May 2004, 120th issue was released) by Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Opatówka in cooperation with the Communal Public Library in Opatówek. The "Opatowianin" staff, who are the Opatówek inhabitants, work for the magazine as a community service. At the beginning, the editor-in-chief was Magdalena Krytkowska who has been replaced by Jadwiga Buncler-Miluśka. The library also deals with the printing, duplicating and distribution of the magazine.
The cooperation of the library with the Association resulted also in 3 publications: the phone directory of the commune of Opatówek in 1990; it has been updated for several years by the library workers. In 1994 r. Jadwiga Buncler-Miluśka worked out and published Informator Gminy Opatówek 1993-1994, and in 1998 a collection of pictures, the Gmina Opatówek w rysunkach by Władysław Kościelniak. In 2001 the library published the Nieznana korespondencja rodziny Gillerów, worked out by Jadwiga Miluśka. The publication contains letters found by the librarians in the Gillers family house's attic in 1997. The letters were written by Agaton Giller from Siberia, Rapperswil, Lviv and Stanislavov, by Zygmunt Gloger, Piotr Chmielowski, Adam Asnyk, Adam Chodyński, Adam Pług, Jan Karłowicz and many other famous Polishpeople and Kalisz inhabitants as well as by the Giller family. In 2002 Jadwiga Miluska worked out the Zarys dziejów Ochotniczej Straży Pożarnej w Opatówku because of the 120th anniversary of this organization. The library also helped publishing poems collection by Stefan Giller: Dwie chwile (Opatówek 2002) and preparing for publication of poems by Łucja Pinczewska-Gliksman. Moreover, the librarians participated in making amateur film on Opatówek in 1990-94. The library collects tapes on Opatówek history, which were recorded during meetings with the oldest inhabitants. The cooperation with TPO results in tourist trips, visits to the theatre, concerts of young musicians from Opatówek and other performances.
The library collects all the materials connected with Opatówek's history and with famous people coming from our town. In the regional catalogue there are books written by authors related to Opatówek, brochures, magazines, photos and documents on Opatówek. It maintains files on Opatówek's history, press cutouts on the Opatówek commune, press cutouts on famous Kalisz inhabitants, and feature articles files Wędrówki ze szkicownikiem by Władysław Kościelniak. The most important events are written down in the library chronicle. The librarians correspond with Opatówek inhabitants who left the town but feel connected with the place where they were born.
In December 1998 Barbara Sulwińska worked out the new phone directory of our commune. The total profit from the sale was assigned to purchase of new books and prizes for children.
In May 1999 the Communal Public Library celebrated its 50th anniversary. Because of that the Commune Council met at a solemn session, devoted to the culture in the commune. The session took place in the History of Industry Museum. The library became the Giller Brothers Library, a plaque on the front of the library building was unveiled and the town representatives put flowers on the famous Opatówek citizens' tombs: on Stefan Giller's grave at the Opatówek cemetery and on Agaton Giller's grave at the Powązki cemetery in Warsaw. On this occasion a publication dedicated to the Opatówek library and its patrons was published: W stronę miasteczka "Róży wiatrów". Biblioteka w Opatówku i jej patronowie by Jadwiga Miluśka and Elżbieta Rogozińska.
The opening of the exposition "Agaton i Stefan Gillerowie - great Opatówek citizens" in the History of Industry Museum was an important part of the celebration. The librarians' findings from the Gillers house attic were exposed: documents, manuscripts, letters, photographs, books and other objects. The exposition lasted few months and met with great interest.
On December 1st, 1999 the Opatówek library was charged with the district library duties. That was a very important task for a library employing 2 workers, having over 20.000 books on the area of 90m2. We try to execute an important part of a district library tasks, supported by the librarians from the Province Public Library and the Culture Animation Centre in Poznań and especially by the Opatówek library instructor, Maria Giemza-Żurawska. It became possible due to increase in the number of staff. Małgorzata Judasz started to work in February 2000 and Halina Pływaczyk, in September 2000. The library also employed Danuta Głowinkowska, as a helper and cleaning lady. Since the library is responsible for the district library tasks, it organizes meetings for district libraries' emplyees, visits the best libraries, sets out courses and meetings with interesting people, organizes district contests. The librarians from Opatówek take part in the events and courses organized in Poznań and other cities in Poland.
In 2001 the library took part in a contest for the best communal library in Wielkopolska and the director, Jadwiga Miluśka, was decorated by Stefan Mikołajczak, the Wielkopolska District Speaker. In May 2004 the Library received the distinction: "Merited for the Culture".
Except the basic activity, which is collecting, working out and lending books, the library is also a cultural institution: it organizes cultural events, meetings with interesting people, contests and classes for children. On November 29, 1990 the Communal Public Library Lovers Club was set up. Readers made voluntary payments to the Club (they were mainly payments for English lessons carried out for children in 1989-91 by Jadwiga Buncler). The library has taken part in and organized many contests. The most popular are the regional contests, like "My family tree" or "My closest homeland". Results are presented in "Opatowianin" and registered on compact discs.
In 2002-2003 the reading room and the corridor were renovated. In consequence, the reading room was significantly enlarged and the library gained a possibility to organize expositions in its corridor. In 2003, it was the exposition "Wielkopolska in Władysław Kościelniak's pictures", followed by the contest exposition "My commune, my town: their history and traditions" as well as by Małgosia and Marcin Sulwińskis' photo exposition "The beauty of the Opatówek commune". The present exposition is entitled: "Art as a window on Europe" by Władysław Kościelniak.
In 1988-2003 the library was organizing meetings with writers and other interesting people: Eligiusz Kor-Walczak, Władysław Kościelniak, Stanisław Szponder, Urszula Zybura, Grzegorz Brodacki, Bronisław Dostatni, Karolina Kusek, Anna Zabacka, Marian Cezary Abramowicz, Maryla Siarkiewicz, professor Artur Kijas, professor Józef Śmiałowski, Hanna Żerek-Kleszcz, Jolanta Kutyłło, Marek Rezler, Krzysztof Szymaniak, Ryszard Danecki, Gerard Górnicki, Marian Reniak, Jerzy Fiećko, Magdalena Krytkowska, Ida Musiałkowska, Marianna Kocemba, Janina Gzowska, Stanisław Małyszko, Krzysztof Petek, Helena Gordziej, Sergiusz Sterna-Wachowiak, Piotr Kuczyński, Stanisław Słopień, Janusz Tomala, Krystyna Krzyszkowiak and others. The library has been inviting children from the primary schools and the kindergarten, carrying out the library lessons for older pupils. It has been also involved in actions aiming at encouraging children to get in touch with literature.
From January to September 2004 the Opatówek library has been realizing a project "The library as a window on Europe" within the confines of the European Committee's Small Grants Program in Warsaw. A computer scientist, Mariusz Pyszel, was employed for this reason; he has been responsible for the library's and Opatówek's website as well as for basic computer managing courses. New equipment (2 computers, a Xerox machine, a printer and a digital camera) were bought. The readers gained a possibility of a permanent access to the Internet. The climax of the Program was the conference "The local identity in the European society" which took place on May 19, 2004 in the History of Industry Museum in Opatówek. The reports delivered to the conference were published.
Except for the collections of Giller Brothers' Communal Public Library and its branches in Rajsko and Tłokinia Wielka (in total 41.000 books) there are other collections at schools in the Commune of Opatówek: the Janusz Kusociński Primary School collection (created in 1946, about 11.000 volumes) and the collections at other commune schools (in total about 13.000 books). The Opatówek Grammar School library is being created. The History of Industry Museum owns a collection of over 1100 books. Many families have their private collections, too.
The library is financed by the town council; the district duties are financed by District Office. The cooperation with the council is perfect. The library also cooperates with the Opatówek Lovers Association (Towarzystw Przyjaciół Opatówka) and other organizations in Opatówek, with the Kalisz Science Lovers Association (Kaliskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk), the Book Lovers Association in Kalisz (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki), other libraries in the district and in the province as well as with schools in the Commune of Opatówek and the District of Kalisz.