01 February 2022
In Memoriam: Zuzanna Krzemien (1987-2021)
As January draws to a close, we remember our dear colleague, Zuzanna, who passed away a year ago. In her short time at the British Library, as a cataloguer and curator of Slavonic and East European collections, she made a lasting impression on both the people and collections she worked with. As well as being a talented linguist and researcher with a PhD in Hebrew and Jewish studies, she is also remembered for her generosity of spirit, quiet humour and beautiful smile.
Photograph of Zuzanna. With kind permission of her family.
Zuzanna’s regular contributions to the Library’s European Studies blog were always popular due to her accessible, interesting, and often witty, writing style and choice of subjects. From art and book design to Holocaust studies and the forgotten histories of women, her natural ability to tell stories and engage readers helped to open up the Polish, Czech and Slovak collections to wider audiences.
In June 2020 she organised an important collaborative blog post to mark Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month and to highlight collection items written by or related to members of the Roma community in Europe. One of our favourite pieces she wrote was the first in a series of blog posts in which colleagues described items in the collection that held a significant meaning for them. Zuzanna chose a Polish samizdat edition of George Orwell’s 1984, which she first came across aged 13 on her father’s bookshelf, and a book devoted to the Roma community in Slovakia.
In one of her blogs on book design, Zuzanna explained that Czech cubists believed that objects, including books, had their own inner energy. The way she worked with books and wrote about them suggests that she also believed in their inner energy.
Zuzanna’s family have kindly donated 14 books from her personal collection to the British Library. Each title includes her ex-libris. An avid traveller and bibliophile, the design features a scene with books next to a wide-open window. There is a vase of flowers on the windowsill and a flock of birds is flying over the vast, mountainous landscape. We hope that it will bring a smile and sense of calm to all those who read Zuzanna’s books in the Library.
The following books were kindly donated to the British Library by Zuzanna’s family
Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists (London, ). YD.2022.a.275
Antonio Damasio, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (London, 2006). YD.2022.a.273
Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain (London, 2012). YD.2022.a.278
Angela Gallop with Jane Smith, When the Dogs don’t Bark: a Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth (London, 2020). YD.2022.a.279
Georgi Gospodinov; translated by Angela Rodel, The Physics of Sorrow (Rochester, 2015). YD.2022.a.281
Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor (London, 2018). YD.2022.a.276
Jonah Lehrer, Proust was a neuroscientist (Edinburgh, 2012). YD.2022.a.277
Shannon Moffett, The Three-Pound Enigma: the Human Brain and the Quest to Unlock its Mysteries (Chapel Hill, 2006). YD.2022.a.282
Heather Morris, The Tattooist of Auschwitz (London, 2018). YD.2022.a.274
Erin E. Murphy, Inside the Cell: the Dark Side of Forensic DNA (New York, 2015). YD.2022.a.283
Henry Jay Przybylo, Counting Backwards: a Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia (New York, 2018). YD.2022.a.280
Christopher See, Succeed in your Medical School Interview: Stand out from the Crowd and get into your Chosen Medical School (London, 2015). YD.2022.a.285
Tom Zoellner, Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that Shaped the World (New York; London, 2009). YD.2022.a.284
Ruslan Russian, 1. Student Workbook. Exercises by John Langran ([Birmingham, 2013]). YD.2022.b.73