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If I consider myself to be a European, it does not mean at all I cease being a Czech. It is really the other way round. As a Czech, I am also a European. Somewhat poetically I say that Europe is the mother of all fatherlands Václav Havel, A Speech to the European Parliament, November 11, 2009

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Club / News / Program

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THE WINNER OF THE 2018 VÁCLAV HAVEL HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE  08/10/18

Today, on Monday 8 October, 2018, Oyub Titiev was ceremonially announced as laureate of the 2018 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The award is presented by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation. For more information about the Prize visit us here.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Evil – registration open!  30/08/18

Dear friends, please allow us to inform you that we have just launched registration for the sixth annual conference in honour of the laureate of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, which is entitled The Unbearable Lightness of Evil, and the subsequent concert A Tribute to the Brave. You will find more information here.

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Three candidates shortlisted for the 2018 Václav Havel Prize  28/08/18

The selection panel of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, comprising independent figures from the world of human rights and chaired by the President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Liliane Maury Pasquier, drew up the shortlist of candidatures in Prague today. The shortlisted nominees, in alphabetical order, are: More

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Have a great summer!  02/07/18

Dear visitors, though our club programme ended over a week ago, we’re still here for you: From Tuesday to Friday you can visit our permanent exhibition Havel in a Nutshell (always from 12:00 to 17:00) and, in the case of prior agreement, also our reading room. At any time you can access our digital archive and YouTube channel, where you will find close to 900 videos from our events… Have a wonderful summer and see you again in September!

Program for January 2018<>

A Reading for Josef Škvorecký

A Reading for Josef Škvorecký

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 4, 2018, 17:00 – 22:00

Introduced by Michael Žantovský.

In cooperation with the Josef Škvorecký Society and the PEN Club.

Debate with Respekt

Debate with Respekt

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 9, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00
Miloš Doležal: Documenting small-town normalisation life

Miloš Doležal: Documenting small-town normalisation life

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 11, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Real socialism in schizophrenic disproportion, absurdity and banality: the old world lives on somewhere on the periphery but careerists seize their opportunity, history is mendaciously distorted and the Red Star and hammer and sickle hang above the town square.

The author and Miroslav Hanuš will read, Petr Adámek will speak and Michal Hrubý will play the bassoon.

Václav Vacek: Doesn’t Life End with Death?

Václav Vacek: Doesn’t Life End with Death?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 16, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Meeting with Václav Vacek, the parish priest in Letohrad.

Milada Blekastad – Letters in a Time of Repression

Milada Blekastad – Letters in a Time of Repression

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 17, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Milada Blekastad left behind thousands of pages of correspondence with close friends and eminent names in Czech and Norwegian science and culture. Her letters and responses are a record not only of professional and personal relations but also of the age in which they were written.

The Václav Havel Library is holding this debate on the significance of correspondence in the period of Communist dictatorship in cooperation with the Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Elg association. Speakers: Věra Schifferová (Czech Academy of Sciences), Vladimír Urbánek (Czech Academy of Sciences) and Jan and Ondřej Vaculík.

The evening will also see the launch of the travelling exhibition Invisible Bridge: Milada Blekastad 1917–2003.

I Didn’t Have the Last Word, Incidentally

I Didn’t Have the Last Word, Incidentally

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 18, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

In his most extensive and hitherto unpublished in book form piece of prose writing, Josef K. Šlejhar, best known as the author of the novella Kuře melancholic (Chicken Melancholic), comes to terms with his marriage as well as with the world as such. Over more than 700 pages his unusually evocative and sensuous language he piles up images of days together, commonplace deliberations, memories and sensations. With an almost stenographic precision, he records the sequence of events that preceded the collapse of his life. With anger and humility, lover’s fulminations and patriarchal pride, harshness and tenderness, he repeatedly endures evidence against his own fate. It lays accusations against him and holds him to account. With stubbornness he prepares a closing speech before a grand jury that has never sat and never will. Which changes nothing about the fact that the book is an exceptional, gripping read.

Evening hosted by Pavel Hájek and Jaromír Typlt, a connoisseur of Šlejhar’s work.

The actor Lukáš Jůza will read from the novel.

Václav Havel: The Pig and Ela, Hela and the Hitch

Václav Havel: The Pig and Ela, Hela and the Hitch

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 22, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Vinoř reads Havel, with the Divadlo Prima den theatre having prepared a staged reading of these entertaining “trifles”. The members of the theatre have invited friends from their part of Prague, giving rise to an enjoyable and essentially neighbourly event. Havel can also be read like this – at home in the kitchen or in the neighbours’ garden.

Readers and actors: David Smoljak, Robert Rytina, Markéta Kilingerová, Barbora Marysková

Also featuring: Václava Zahradníčková, Jana Bačová-Kroftová

Evenings with Polish Reporters: A Painfully Close War

Evenings with Polish Reporters: A Painfully Close War

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 23, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Evening moderated by the translator Lenka Kuhar Daňhelová.

“There have been thousands of dispatches, reports, exhibitions, books, albums and documentary and feature films about the war in Bosnia. But as soon as the war ended reporters packed up their cameras and immediately set off for other conflicts,” writes Wojciech Tochman in the book Jako bys jedla kámen (As If You’d Eaten a Stone). Tochman returned repeatedly to Bosnia and spoke mainly to women, whose stories tell us more about the nature of the war than statistics or political analyses. The seasoned reporter is the author of numerous books of reporting from Poland, but also from impoverished areas in the Philippines and the Rwandan genocide. In 2015 he received an Amnesty International award for his work promoting and defending human rights. Tochman’s book from 2002 was published in Czech in 2017 on the Absynt imprint in a translation by Lenka Kuhar Daňhelová.

The journalist, dissident and Charter 77 signatory Jan Urban was a war correspondent in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to where he also helped deliver humanitarian aid. Urban’s book Všem sráčům navzdory: válka, o které nechcete nic vědět) (Despite all the Bastards: The War You Don’t Want to Know Anything About) was first released in 1997 by the publishing house G plus G before being reissued in 2017 by Absynt.

“Sarajevo is for me the centre of the world. Its conscience and future,” Urban says in the book.

Eugen Brikcius: Postil

Eugen Brikcius: Postil

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 24, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

The book will be presented by the author of its foreword Tomáš Kubíček, a professor of Czech literature and the director of Brno’s Moravian Provincial Library.

Followed by a discussion with the writer moderated by Radim Kopáč. The author will read selected excerpts.

Why and How to Speak about Mental Health and Psychiatric Illnesses?

Why and How to Speak about Mental Health and Psychiatric Illnesses?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 29, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

The first of a series of three evenings will be dedicated to why and how a group of young neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatric patients are tackling the problem of insufficient awareness, stigmatisation and neglected prevention in the field of mental health and illness in the Czech Republic. The discussion will touch on the Nevypusť duši (Don’t Let the Spirit Go) project, as well as inspirational campaigns in other states. On why it is necessary to focus on the language and vocabulary that we employ when we speak about psychiatric health and illness and how the use of personal stories can best spread facts and bust myths about mental health and illness.

There will be room for questions and a debate, while attendees will be able to draw on seven tenets of mental hygiene as well as a Manual for Loved Ones, which provides advice on what to do if somebody close to you has mental problems.

A series created by the non-profit Nevypusť duši (Don’t Let the Spirit Go), which is run by a team of young psychologists, neuroscientists and students of those disciplines. It also comprises psychiatric patients and people with experience of psychiatric illness at a young age. Nevypusť duši circulates information, busts myths and informs the Czech Republic about mental health.

Russians in Prague

Russians in Prague

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 30, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

Interwar Czechoslovakia was an important centre for the Russian émigré community, whose number included important scholars, literati and intellectuals. While Czechs celebrated the arrival of the Red Army in May 1945, for Russian (Ukrainian and Belarusian) exiles, who had in many cases become Czechoslovak citizens, the end of WWII spelled disaster: death, imprisonment, the Gulag. The situation was all the more painful given that speaking about their fates was barred because recalling the non-Communist “Russia outside Russia” had no place in the Soviet-Russian imperial narrative. Who were these Russians? How was Czech-Russian coexistence at that time? How does today’s Russia view its past? And what kind of Russians (East Europeans) live in Prague and the Czech Republic today? Are they enriching to us? Or are they a challenge or threat?

The spark for the debate is the new book Rusové v Praze. Ruští intelektuálové v meziválečném Československu (Russians in Prague: Russian Intellectuals in Interwar Czechoslovakia), which was published in 2017 by Vydavatelství FF UK. Taking part in the discussion of the transformations in the Russian presence in Prague and the Czech Republic will be Alexej Kelin, a member of the Czech government’s Council for National Minorities, journalist Ondřej Soukup and Slavic Studies specialist Mychajlo Fesenko.

Historian and philosopher Petr Hlaváček will moderate the debate.

Vladimír Hanzel’s Listening Disco

Vladimír Hanzel’s Listening Disco

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 31, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

He was responsible for official and unofficial contact with musicians. He organised a musical evening with Bill Clinton at Reduta jazz club (1994), was co-organiser of the first ever mega-concert in this country, an appearance by the Rolling Stones at Strahov stadium (1990), and helped set up and took part in Havel’s personal meetings with the Velvet Underground, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Sinéad O’Connor, Sting, Lou Reed and many, many more.

Vladimír Hanzel will discuss those subjects and more and play examples of the music concerned.

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Publications / E-shop

The central focus of the Library’s publishing programme is the life and work of Václav Havel, his family and close collaborators and friends. For clarity, the programme is divided into six series: Václav Havel Library Notebooks, Václav Havel Library Editions, Student Line, Talks from Lány, Václav Havel Documents, Works of Pavel Juráček and Václav Havel Library Conferences. Titles that cannot be incorporated into any of the given series but which are nonetheless important for the Library’s publishing activities are issued independently, outside the series framework.

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Conferences

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Václav Havel European Dialogues

The Václav Havel European Dialogues is an international project that aims to initiate and stimulate a discussion about issues determining the direction of contemporary Europe while referring to the European spiritual legacy of Václav Havel. This idea takes its main inspiration from Václav Havel’s essay “Power of the Powerless”. More than other similarly focused projects, the Václav Havel European Dialogues aims to offer the “powerless” a platform to express themselves and in so doing to boost their position within Europe.

The Václav Havel European Dialogues is planned as a long-term project and involves cooperation with other organisations in various European cities. Individual meetings, which take the form of a conference, are targeted primarily at secondary and third-level students, as well as specialists and members of the public interested in European issues.

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Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.

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Václav Havel

Václav Havel
* 5. 10. 1936 Praha
† 18. 12. 2011 Hrádeček u Trutnova

1936
Foto
Václav Havel grew up
in a well-known, wealthy entrepreneurial
and intellectual family.
1951
Foto
Václav Havel completed primary schooling. Because
of his "bourgeois" background, options for
higher education were limited.
1951
Foto
Václav Havel worked as a chemical laboratory technician
while attending evening classes at a high school
from which he graduated in 1954.
1955
Foto
Václav Havel studied at the
Economics Faculty of the Czech
Technical University in Prague.
1960
Foto
Václav Havel began working at Prague's Theatre on
the Balustrade, first as a stagehand and later as
an assistant director and literary manager.
1963
Foto
Havel´s first play The Garden
Party was staged at Prague's
Theatre on the Balustrade.
1964
Foto
Václav Havel
married Olga
Splichalova.
1966
Foto
VH finished studies at at the
Theatre Faculty of the Academy of
Performing Arts in Prague .
1968
Foto
Václav Havel played an active role in
democratization and renewal of culture during the
era of reforms, known as Prague Spring.
1969
Foto
Havel's work were banned in Czechoslovakia. He
moved from Prague to the country, continued
his activities against the Communist regime.
1974
Foto
Václav Havel worked as a manual laborer
at a local brewery near Hrádeček in
the north of the Czech Republic.
1975
Foto
Václav Havel wrote an open
letter to President Gustav Husak,
criticizing the government.
1977
Foto
Václav Havel co-founded the Charter 77
human rights initiative and was one
of its first spokesmen.
1978
Foto
Václav Havel co-founded The
Committee for the Defense
of the Unjustly Prosecuted.
1979
Foto
Václav Havel was imprisoned several times
for his beliefs, his longest prison
term lasting from 1979 to 1983.
1989
Foto
Václav Havel emerged as one of the
leaders of the November opposition movement, also
known as the Velvet Revolution.
1990
Foto
Václav Havel is elected
President of Czechoslovakia on
December 29.
1993
Foto
Václav Havel is elected, after the
dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the first President
of the Czech Republic.
1996
Foto
On January
27, Olga
Havlova died.
1997
Foto
Václav Havel married Dagmar Veskrnova,
a popular and acclaimed Czech theatrical,
television and movie actress.
1999
Foto
Václav Havel enabled the entry of
the Czech Republic into the North
Atlantic Treat Organisation (NATO).
2003
Foto
Václav Havel left office after
his second term as Czech
president ended on 2 February 2003.
2004
Foto
Foundation of Václav
Havel Library in
Prague.
2004
Foto
The Czech Republic became the 35th
member State of the Council of
Europe on 30 June 1993.
2010
Foto
Václav Havel directed
a film adaptation of
his play Leaving.
2011
Foto
Václav Havel died at his
summer house Hrádeček in the
north of the Czech Republic.
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Educational projects

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Man of inspiration

This six-part series of educational videos introduces young viewers to the most important events in Czechoslovak history in the second half of the 20th century, with an accent on the human rights struggle. It is presented by singer and TV moderator Emma Smetana and choreographer and producer Yemi. The presenters of the English versions are native speakers.

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Read Havel

A collection of short videos in which well-known young people in Czech public life present iconic and lesser-known texts by Václav Havel.

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Václav Havel here and now

A travelling series of discussions about VH and more with Michael Žantovský, intended for secondary school students, libraries and arts centres.

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Best Student Essay Competition

One of the key genres of Václav Havel’s work is essays – on literary, artistic, social, political, and spiritual topics. His essays, such as the The Power of the Powerless and A Word About Words, have become classic texts of Czech literature; they have been translated into tens of languages, and are among the few truly world-famous works of Czech culture. This is also why it is necessary to keep cultivating the essay genre in the Czech language – not in the sense of imitating Václav Havel’s writing, but in the spirit of his courage to name unpleasant problems and search for unconventional solutions to them. For this reason, the Václav Havel Library is announcing the next year of the literary competition for secondary students: the Václav Havel Library Prize for Best Student Essay.

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Václav Havel´s Bookshelves

The Václav Havel Little Libraries are a key new Václav Havel Library project aimed at establishing a nationwide network of elementary and secondary schools that, with the support of the VHL, will spread the legacy of Václav Havel among their pupils and students. The aim of the Little Libraries is to create in schools (on the model of the existing Václav Havel’s Places) book shelves on which the schools will gather both texts by Václav Havel and texts closely linked to him. They may also contain other written materials, audio and video recordings and photographs.

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Lets rock!

Are your students (whether at elementary, arts-focused elementary or secondary schools) interested in history? Do you have a theatre or film club at your school, or are you teaching young people who “just” like to act? If so, we cordially invite you to join the Václav Havel Library in celebrating in a creative manner the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia with the theatre-education project Tomorrow!

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Václav Havel – a Czech myth, or Havel in a Nutshell

This interactive workshop lasting for about 180 minutes takes place in the “Havel in a Nutshell” exhibition hall. Primary and secondary school students are divided into groups within which they deal with various “research” projects. Students work with selected texts and are provided with particular books. The workshop is related not only to the teaching of Czech history, but also to personal, literary, artistic and media training, and increasing student’s democratic consciousness as citizens.

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Guided tour – Havel In A Nutshell

The Václav Havel Library’s permanent exhibition Havel In A Nutshell introduces pupils and students the life of Václav Havel through a collage of photographs and quotations. Touch screens make use of detailed information and sound recordings to place individual chapters – family, theatre, dissent and presidency – in a broad cultural-historical context, while a large interactive map creates a tangible sense of Václav Havel’s global “footsteps”.

Exhibitions

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Havel in a nutshell

The Václav Havel Library’s permanent exhibition brings Václav Havel’s story to life via a collage of photographs and quotations. Touchscreens place individual chapters of his life in the broader cultural and historical context, while a large-scale interactive map allows visitors to gain a tangible sense of Václav Havel’s global “footsteps”.  

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Oldřich Škácha – Occupation 1968

A collection of photographs by Oldřich Škácha from the Václav Havel Library’s collection.

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The Faces of Resistance

Pavel Hroch’s online photographic exhibition captures the stories of those who, across several decades of Czechoslovak history, stood up to evil, inhumanity, oppression and coarseness and who at certain moments displayed courage, will to freedom, love of those around them and common sense.

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Via the East to the West

In autumn 1989, Prague was flooded with citizens from the German Democratic Republic. For them, the Czechoslovak capital was to be a transfer station on the journey to freedom, to the western part of their country, whose division was symbolised by the Berlin Wall. One of the main reasons for the sudden growth in the number of refugees was the fear that the GDR would close its borders with Czechoslovakia, the only country East German citizens could enter without a visa, ahead of 40th anniversary celebrations of its foundation.

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With a Passion for Freedom

Pavel Hroch’s photographs capture the revolutionary period springing from November 1989 as well as the era of transformation, the start of the 1990s, when things happened in Czechoslovakia that had previously been impossible and unimaginable, a period of joy and carnivalesque festivity, a period of visions, hopes and a great and perhaps somewhat naïve belief in the future. Twenty-five years later, the photographs hold a mirror up to the manner in which those dreams and visions have been realised and to where we find ourselves today.

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Leaving

Story of Václav Havel’s final play and first film (1988–2011)

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August invasion of Hrádeček

A meeting of the children of dissidents and others who shared recollections of Václav Havel. The exhibition is a colourful collage of photographs, audio recordings – from talks by individual participants on the subject “My life with Václav Havel”, to a concert by Monika Načeva and Michal Pavlíček – and unique archival materials.

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Archive / Documentation centre / Research projects

Dokumentační centrum

The Václav Havel Library is gradually gathering, digitizing, and making accessible written materials, photographs, sound recordings and other materials linked to the person of Václav Havel.

  • 50587 records in total
  • 15290 of events in the VH's life
  • 2994 of VH's texts
  • 1784 of photos 
  • 275 of videos
  • 555 of audios
  • 5625 of letters
  • 14718 of texts about VH
  • 5451 of books
  • 15274 of bibliography records

Access to the database of the VHL’s archives is free and possible after registering as a user. Accessing archival materials that exist in an unreadable form is only possible at the reading room of the Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, 110 00 Prague 1, every Tuesday (except state holidays) from 9:00 to 17:00, or by prior appointment.

We will be glad to answer your queries at archiv@vaclavhavel-library.org.

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Vladimir Hanzel's revolution

Collage of recollections, images and sound recordings from Vladimír Hanzel, President Václav Havel’s personal secretary, bringing the feverish atmosphere of the Velvet Revolution to life.

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Václav Havel Interviews

A database of all accessible interviews given to print media outlets by the dramatist, writer and political activist Václav Havel between the 1960s and 1989. The resulting collection documents the extraordinary life story of an individual, as well as capturing a specific picture of modern Czechoslovak history at a time when being a free-thinker was more likely to lead to jail than an official public post.

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All about Library

The Václav Havel Library collects, researches, disseminates, promotes and advocates the spiritual, literary and political legacy of a great figure of modern Czech history - the author, playwright, thinker, human rights defender and Czechoslovak and Czech president. It also focuses on people, events and phenomena related to the legacy of Václav Havel and strives to place them in the context of the times and of the present.

From August 2014, the Václav Havel Library is located at the address Ostrovní 13, Prague 1. The building’s ground-floor spaces is dedicated to an exhibition "Václav Havel or Havel in a nutshell" and used for VHL club events – all kinds of seminars, readings, exhibitions, lectures, concerts and theatre performances. The Library’s offices, archive, constantly expanding library, and reading room are located on the first floor.

The main aims of the Václav Havel Library include

  • Organizing archival, archival-research, documentary, museum and library activities focused on the work of Vaclav Havel and documents or objects related to his activities, and carries out professional analysis of their influence on the life and self-reflection of society
  • Serving, in a suitable manner, such as through exhibitions, the purpose of education and popularisation functions, thus presenting to the public the historical significance of the fight for human rights and freedoms in the totalitarian period and the formation of civil society during the establishment of democracy
  • Organizing scientific research and publication activities in its areas of interest
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Support us

Financial donations

If you would like to support the work of the Václav Havel Library or its specific activities or projects by means of a financial donation you can do so via the VHL’s PayPal account

Or by bank transfer to:

ČSOB a. s., Na Poříčí 24, 115 20 Praha 1

  • Crown account number 7077 7077 / 0300 CZK
  • Euro account number 7755 7755 / 0300 EUR
  • Dollar account number 7747 7747 / 0300 USD

If an individual makes a donation of over CZK 1,000, or if a company makes a donation of over CZK 2,000, in one calendar year we will create for you a donation contract confirming the amount of the donation involved; the donor can use this to reduce their tax base in compliance with the law on taxation. For more information, contact us.

Donors with US citizenship can support us through the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation New York.

Donations and loans to the VHL archive

The Václav Havel Library administers an archive of written materials, documents, photographs, video recordings and other materials related to the life and work of Václav Havel. The archive is predominantly digital in form. If you or somebody close to you is the owner of original texts, photographs, speeches or other works produced by Václav Havel we would appreciate it greatly if you contacted us. We will oversee the digitalisation of these documents and place them in our digital archive. If you would like to keep possession of such documents or items, we will return them in perfect condition.  

If a copy or original is donated to the Václav Havel Library, the terms of donation and use will in all cases be agreed with the owner. The names of all donors or owners will be listed alongside the documentary materials in question.

Internships

We offer short and long-term internships at the Václav Havel Library to Czech and foreign students. Interns are particularly welcomed in the fields of library studies and archival science, arts management, journalism, Czech Studies and other areas of the humanities.

We welcome knowledge of English (German and French are also a plus), while knowledge of Czech is an advantage for foreign interns.

Internships range in duration from six weeks to one year, while it is possible to agree on individual duration depending on the requirements of schools. On completion of the internship, the participant receives a certificate with an appraisal. Internships take place on the basis of prior agreement with applicants and dates must be agreed around two months in advance. Václav Havel Library internships are unpaid and we do not cover transport or accommodation costs.

If you are interested in an internship at the Václav Havel Library, contact us at the email address:

Media and promotion cooperation with the VHL

The Václav Havel Library welcomes the mutual exchange of links and the publication of our banners and information about our events. For more information, contact us directly.

Volunteers

The Václav Havel Library welcomes volunteers who would like to assist in our work.