The Polish Library in Washington DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. - You will know that you've arrived at the Polish Library In Washington (PLIW) here at 1503 21st Street, N.W., just west of busy Dupont Circle, when you see the Polish flag wafting in the breeze: The Library, with it's own dedicated entrance, is located on the lower level of the same building that houses the Embassy of Poland Economic and Commercial Section (see the photograph below, left). Its all-volunteer staff will welcome you and they will make every effort to be of assistance.

Polish Is The Word In This Library - Depicted above at the Polish Library In Washington is Vice-President Ania Firsowicz (l.) and Dr. Richard Okreglak (r.), both surrounded by a collection of over 7,000 books, mainly in Polish, on Polish topics that encompass literature, culture, history and present day Poland. To visit the Library in the heart of our nation's capital city is to open a treasure chest chock-full of literary and educational gems. (click inside the image to magnify it)

The PLIW was established in 1991 by the Friends of The Polish Library to serve the needs of the Polish community, Polonia, students, scholars, researchers and the interested public in the greater Metropolitan Washington area. Its many shelves contain over 7,000 books (90% Polish, 10% English) that run the gamut of literature, fiction, history, culture, and current, contemporary events in Poland. Also available in this circulating, lending library is hundreds of films in video and DVD format (many with English subtitles). All the available materials are constantly updated, usually directly from Poland. The reading room makes available the latest Polish newspapers and magazines.
The Children's Room is of particular interest: Its extensive collection of books serves the beginning and advanced reader. It's the PLIW's mission to encourage and propagate the Polish language among children of Polish background and heritage. And in this respect the Library works closely with the Saturday Polish School at the Polish Embassy. A computer/internet station is also available to serve the young readers.

The monthly PLIW Newsletter is the "lifeline" to its membership, stated President Richard Okreglak, an officer since 1999. Written in Polish, with English notes, it contains Library news and comprehensive reviews of the latest books by Polish authors and those dealing with Polish/Poland subjects matter. The current and back issues of the Newsletter are available on-line at the Library's web site:, which also contains many interesting links to related, relevant organizations and sites, along with membership information.

With a membership exceeding 300, The PLIW is one of the largest Polish organizations in the Washington area. The uninformed might think that the Library is just a static collection of books (albeit very good ones) - but it also functions as a very dynamic social organization that organizes, co-sponsors and participates in many cultural events, very often at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. The Library generated events include new book debuts with a lecture by the author, musical/concert programs, monthly Polish cinema night, including the ever popular annual summer picnic and Embassy Christmas/kolendy celebration. Also, in the near future a scholarship program will be inaugurated in honor of Tadeusz Walendowski, deceased founder of the PLIW.

To visit the Polish Library In Washington - a little island of Poland located here in the heart of our nation's capital - is to behold a vast treasure of literature and knowledge, all at your disposal and use. A visit, even a brief one, is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression upon you. Without a doubt, you'll depart being very appreciative and proud of the valuable educational and cultural institution that the Friends of the PLIW have successfully established. Check the library website

Washington DC Bureau, September 5, 2006
text and photographs by Richard P. Poremski, contact the author by e-mail
This article was published originally in Polish American Journal, Buffalo, NY.

Check articles devoted to reviews of Polish-American books, Polish immigration , and Polish history.

I recommend a book (especially interesting for fresh Polish immigrants) written by Eva Stachniak and awarded a special Canadian prize
Necessary Lies

Check also the most recent book by Eva: Garden of Venus (Hardcover), by Eva Stachniak

and the article written by Eva Stachniak what inspired her to write this book entitled: The Story of Countess Potocka in "Garden of Eden"

The SITE MAP contains all articles classified according to the topic.