The traditions of the oldest European universities reach far back into the Middle Ages, or at least to the threshold of modern history. While higher education in Ljubljana has its beginnings in the early decades of the 17th century in connection with the educational activity of the priests of the Society of Jesus in the Ljubljana college, the University of Ljubljana was established in 1919. Its almost 90 years of existence is not a particularly long period but, over the decades, it has had its share of ups and downs.


While the political arena never viewed scientific and university autonomy with particular favour, it did have a special affinity for reforms – especially in the last half-century. Nonetheless, in this period, the Ljubljana university developed into one of the greatest Central-European universities.

After Slovenia gained independence, new social circumstances – including constitutionally provided autonomy – meant the University of Ljubljana could enjoy more freedom, but new and different problems were arising. The 1993 Higher Education Act and its amendments after 2000, which are particularly related to Slovenia joining the EU, and the Ljubljana university’s statutes of 1995 and 2001 adopted on the basis of that act, represent the first steps in realising the concept of a modern European university founded on our own traditions and needs.


In the 2nd half of the 18th century, state intervention in the educational sphere also lead to the first decrees demanding the formation of archives at all universities. Their management was entrusted to the legal representative of the university office and care for archive material was entrusted to an archivist selected from the Faculty of Law teachers.


The University of Ljubljana’s operation has produced material that represents an important part of Slovenian cultural heritage. For at least three decades, the University of Ljubljana has been aware that it is in the interest of the Slovenian nation and, today, the Slovenian state, to permanently preserve and professionally process this material and facilitate its use. In 1968, when the archives act effective at the time largely inhibited the organisation of specialist archives, a special service for the storage of university archival material was organised in agreement with the Archives of Slovenia within the secretariat of the Ljubljana university, today unofficially called the University of Ljubljana Historical Archives and Museum (ZAMU) and de jure the Archival-Museum Service. This is a fairly specific cultural protection institution, its activity comprising tasks in the field of archival, museum and library expertise.


Today, the protection of cultural heritage in Slovenia is regulated by several new acts. The legal basis for the protection of archive material and the operation of the archives service is provided by the 1997 Archives and Archives Material Act, which, among other things, specifies that an entity of public law, due to a special status or the particular nature of its activity in the field of science, higher education or information provision may carry out the protection of its own archival material by permission of the cultural minister.


On this basis, the University of Ljubljana applied for permission to continue its archival activity with the said authority in mid-December 1997. This permission, granted to the University of Ljubljana on 1 January 1999, ensures the protection of its public archive material and binds the University itself to provide such facilities, equipment and qualified staff as required, to establish a work organisation to assure the effective protection of the archive material and to provide the funds necessary for this purpose. The permission also appoints the central Slovenian national archives, i.e. the Archives of the RS, as the archive competent for control over the implementation of archive material protection at the University of Ljubljana.


The University thus protects its public archive material on the basis of the stated permission in compliance with the relevant archives act and the relevant secondary archives acts and as instructed by the competent archives. In this connection, we should point out that six new secondary archives acts were issued in July 1999 pursuant to the provisions of the new archives act: Rules on the material protection of archival and documentary material, Rules on the professional processing and records of archival material, The types and forms of archival material records, Rules on the professional skills of the entities under public law employees and providers of equipment and services dealing with documents, Rules on selecting and delivering public archival material, Rules on the use of public archival material in archives and Rules on handling private archival material, which along with the act itself and with the somewhat older Rules on the traineeship, professional examinations and awarding of titles to employees working in the field of cultural heritage govern virtually the entire Slovenian archival activity or the protection of public and private archive material. It is very important that each and all of the rules are harmonized with expert recommendations and the resolutions of the International Council on Archives, Unesco, the EU and the Council of Europe and are comparable with the relevant foreign archival regulations, standards, professional instructions and literature. Most important of all, particularly for the introduction of information technology into our archives, they comply with international standards for archive material description.


In this connection, it is especially worth noting that – unlike university archives in some EU countries, where the protection of archival items is regulated with archival rules (procedure manuals) issued by the managing bodies of the universities themselves based on the university act – the protection of the university archive material at the archives of the University of Ljubljana is , from a professional aspect wholly determined by the national archives legislation, while the University of Ljubljana provides the material means for its maintenance.

In mid-1999, the Movable and Immovable Cultural Heritage Objects Protection Act was issued, which, among other things, regulates the protection of movable historical objects, i.e. museum items important for historical events in Slovenia. In accordance with the wording of this act, the University of Ljubljana is making efforts to declare the most precious museum material housed in its archives or museum as a cultural monument of national importance and trying to get the rest of the museum material listed in the heritage register. This is the only way to ensure statutory protection for this part of the cultural heritage housed by the archives/museum of the University of Ljubljana.

On the whole, we can say that in the 30 years of its existence, the archives of the University of Ljubljana have evolved from its modest origins into an institution that is increasingly comparable to similar institutions at renowned European universities. However, the development of the Ljubljana university over the last decades, particularly the increased number of members and the resulting increase in the material that is by law due for archival accession, now presents the archives with great and taxing problems in terms of organisation, space and staffing.

The archives of the University of Ljubljana are located in the central university building, formerly the seat of the Provincial Assembly of Carniola, built in 1902, and has 160m2 of administrative, public, work and depot areas. Most of the depot areas barely meet the regulations for the material protection of archive material. The material is in the care of three employees with 1st degree qualifications in the field of museum and archival science. Like the all activity of the administration of the UL, the archival activity is financed by government funds, i.e. funds from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. In terms of organisation, the archives comprise three work units: the archives department, the museum department and the reference library with documentation.

Written archival material is stored according to its origin in 10 fonds, which comprise 273 subgroups, i.e. around 550 linear metres (lm). This is mostly material produced at the Rector’s Office (the administration) and, in a modest scope, at the Faculties of Law, Arts, Medicine, Economics and the Faculty of Technical Sciences. Chronologically, with the exception of the material from the Rector’s Office (administration), its span is limited to the period until 1960. As most of the material was located, accessioned and professionally processed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it does not constitute a complete whole and the full records of the University of Ljubljana prior to World War II and in the first post-war decade, but merely, we could say, its remains. The bulk of the material is not preserved. Where it was mislaid is not known, but more than a decade of inquiries have given us reason to fear that it has been destroyed.

Eminent material from the Rector’s Office deserving special mention speaks of the University of Ljubljana as well as its teachers. In the first place, this includes the student registration book of the UL, habilitation records and the minutes of university council and administration meetings, supplemented by the transcripts of students from the Faculties of Arts, Law and Medicine. Basic information about university teachers may be found in personal folders, dating as far back as the pre-war period for most of the then existing faculties. Other than that, most of the preserved material from this fonds, in addition to the so-called general files that deal unsystematically with a broad variety of university-related issues, provides information about student matters, press, university or faculty institutions, disciplinary matters, scientific research work, study matters, foreign contacts, commemorations and official celebrations, contracts, agreements, etc. The fonds of individual faculties contain identical or similar materials, differing only in being topically restricted to the individual faculty chairs, e.g. the minutes of faculty council meetings, student matters, personnel matters, study plans, statutes, work reports, statistical data, financial affairs, lists of lectures, etc., while faculty-specific material of special interest includes the minutes of diploma exams, construction and building plans and material from some of the Dean’s Offices. Some of the data on university teachers and events at the University of Ljubljana is also held by the Privata fonds.

The archives of the University Commission, whose activity in 1919 basically lead to the establishment of the UL, are housed by the Archives of the republic of Slovenia where the "Archives of the UL" fonds also contain material with information on some of the University Council meetings, a few case records of the university tribunal and a few minutes of the examination board for the state professional exam for assistants.

Since 1991, we have accessioned material from three fonds (Rector’s Office, the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Law) in the total amount of around 300 lm.

All recently professionally processed material was equipped with suitable technical equipment, as was the material processed in previous decades. Although it is of course impossible to include here a list of all the new acquisitions of the last decade, we can still mention eminent material from the following thematic areas: minutes of university council meetings (1968–1992), minutes of the habilitation committee (1970–1990), minutes of the pedagogical-scientific council (1969–1976), minutes of the committee for scientific research work (1968–1979), minutes of the committee for study matters (1968–1979), enrolment documents (student transcripts) and minutes of diploma exams at the Faculty of Arts (1960–1980). All of the above shows that most of the material accessioned and processed in the last decade originates from the administration of the UL, which also has the tightest links with the archives, while the material of University members has been remaining at the faculties, particularly due to the process of University decentralization in the past decades and the related increasing organisational autonomy of its members. Despite the intentions of the legal acts on higher education and the UL, its re-homogenization and reintegration is proceeding slowly and laboriously, which of course also affects the affirmation of the archives of the University of Ljubljana as the central university archival institution. Still, the archives is endeavouring to make its cooperation with university members as effective as possible by regularly preparing proposals and written instructions for the selection of documentary material and, above all, by checking their documentary or archival material, especially where its accession date is already overdue. However, accessioning on the part of the archive has not (yet) been possible in view of insufficient depot space and personnel capacities or other impediments.

The archives also seek and build contacts with individuals that are known to possess archival and museum material with a university theme and with those who will offer such material for sale. We also intensified the recording of material concerning semi-university studies in Ljubljana in the 17th and 18th centuries kept by foreign, particularly Austrian archives. Otherwise, archival items concerning higher education in Ljubljana prior to the establishment of the University of Ljubljana are stored, relative to historical developments, in various archival institutions and libraries in Ljubljana and not in the archives of the university itself. As regards Ljubljana university-related material located in the archives of Serbia and Montenegro, the question of its restitution is still moot.

In the field of museum activity, the efforts of the archives or the museum of the University of Ljubljana are largely devoted to the effective performance of primary museum work, which is to make sure that movable cultural heritage related to semi-university studies and the University of Ljubljana is preserved and documented. In the last decade, over a hundred new museum exhibits were acquired. Museological processing of acquisitions consists of inventorying, recording the condition or damage to material, its protection and its custody. The museum department also contains a photo collection with around 20,000 photographs, 6000 of which are of recent date, and a documentation collection with minutely processed data on the University of Ljubljana and its members. Another activity is the regular selection of articles about the University in the daily press, which are then annually published together to offer a mirror of the University of Ljubljana in the press. Lately, this publication has been made in digital form and posted on the website of the Ljubljana university.
The archival library has around 3000 library units – largely monographs and, in a smaller scope, periodicals. The bulk of the material was donated by the University of Ljubljana’s administration and some of it resulted from exchanges and purchases. In terms of subject matter, they predominantly concern universities, their history, archival activity and museology.

The archival and museum documentation of material is processed using three computers with basic software and a few specialised programmes. Within its research activity, the archive staff publishes technical articles and discussions on the history of semi-university education in Ljubljana, particularly on the history of the University of Ljubljana, both in national and foreign journals. In the last ten years, almost a hundred have been published.

It is perfectly understandable that the archives and museum of the University of Ljubljana also pays a great deal of attention to meeting the needs of its clients. In the last decade, it received over 3000 visits, 200 of them from researchers who used more than 60,000 pieces of archive material. The latter is used in accordance with the archives act, the procedure manual and the reference library rules. Material in its original form may only be used in the archives’ reference library. Other than that, a contract is required to loan it for exhibitions and similar purposes. Public archive material dated prior to 1991 is fully available for use, except for material containing personal information and material from private sources, which is used as provided by their deliverers.

Of course, the archives of the University of Ljubljana is fully aware that its material, depots and collections are not and end in themselves and that the display of material (exhibitions) is vital. Since 2000, the archives have put on the following exhibitions: "The University of Ljubljana and Its Rectors", "The First Steps of Law Studies at the University of Ljubljana", "The Provincial Mansion in Ljubljana" and "Old Postcards of the Provincial Mansion and the University of Ljubljana (1900–1950)". All the exhibitions were accompanied by richly designed exhibition catalogues and leaflets. Currently under preparation is the concept and gathering of material for the permanent exhibition "Ljubljana – A Higher Education and University Centre".

As the University of Ljubljana seeks a new role for itself in these times, which might aptly be called transitus rerum in the words of historian Cornelius Tacitus, we trust that it will also secure a suitable status for its archives and museum now that the state has created the legal framework for it to do so. Therefore, it is conceivable that the University of Ljubljana will, in the course of restructuring the expert services of its administration after having relocated the Faculty of Law from the central university building and increased its capacities as a result, assign suitable public and depot premises to the archives, which, based on an agreement with the managements of the members and the University, will facilitate the legally prescribed archival accession of – in our estimations – some thousand metres of material produced in the 1960s, 70s and 80s at the faculties, where it is largely still located today. At a practical level, this would facilitate the emergence of a central university archival institution with central depots for the entire University of Ljubljana, rather than an archives or museum of the University of Ljubljana’s administration, which is what the archives and museum of the Ljubljana university have to a large extent developed into over the last two decades. This will mean a restoration of the view, present at the University of Ljubljana ever since it was founded (though more evident in some periods than others), that the protection of its archival and museum material as cultural heritage is an act of civilization and its research is the foundation for the European development of a university founded on home traditions.