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Entries / Libraries (entry)

Libraries (entry)

Categories / Science. Education/Libraries

LIBRARIES. The first library of St. Petersburg was founded in 1714 by the decree of Tsar Peter the Great as His Majesty’s Library; later on, it formed the basis of the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1756, the library of Russian Court Theatre was opened, in 1757 - the library of the Academy of Arts, in 1765 - the library of the Free Economic Society, and in 1799 - the Naval Library. In 1795, the Imperial Public Library (today Russian National Library) was founded. The library has been open to public in 1814. The palace library founded in 1762 by Empress Catherine II and set in the Hermitage became one of the largest in the country. There were also libraries of monasteries, cathedrals, churches and theological educational institutions (the largest of them was the library of the Theological Academy, founded in 1795). In the 18th century, book collections of Peter the Great, Y.V. Bruce, R. Areskin, A.A. Vinius, A.D. Menshikov and others were formed. In the late 18th century there appeared private browsing rooms of F.O. Tumansky (1790), K.T. Dalgren (1783), M.K. Ovchinnikov (1784), V.S. Sopikov (1791), and I.K. Keiser (1798). Later, private commercial libraries appeared, for example, libraries of Y. Brift (1820s), F.M. Bellizard (1830s), G. Schmitzdorf (1835), I.Y. Weitbrecht (1870), and others. Their collections were comprised of foreign books and numbered about 2,000-8,000 volumes. Extensive libraries belonged to V.A. Plavilshchikov (1815), N.A. Serno-Solovyevich and A.A. Sleptsov (1861); the present-day Mayakovsky Library originates from the rich library of A.A. Cherkesov (1868). The total number of private libraries that functioned in St. Petersburg from the second part of the 18th century through 1914 exceeded 350. The first catalogues of libraries (of Sopikov, Keiser, et al.) were published in the second half of the 18th - early 19th centuries. Libraries of educational establishments were founded in the 18th century, including those of Infantry and Naval Cadet Corps. The library of Tsarskoselsky (Alexandrovsky) Lyceum was founded In 1811. Libraries of supreme and central state institutions were first founded in the early 19th century. The most precious collections were the libraries of the State Assembly (1810), Department of People's Education (1810), Censorship Committee (1820), Ministry of Finance (1824), Main Land Department (1832), Scientific Committee of the Ministry of State Property (1837), and the Senate (1848). In the 19th century, libraries of St. Petersburg University (1819; today Gorky Scientific Library), Institute of Transport Communications Engineers (1842), Technological Institute (1828), Institute of Civil Engineers (1882) etc., as well as some libraries of gymnasiums and colleges (the largest was the library of German Petrischule) were established. Libraries of military academies were formed, including the Library of Military Medical Academy (1798), Nikolaevskaya Engineers’ Academy (1819), Mikhailovskaya Artillery Academy (1820), Imperial Military Academy (1832) and others. The largest military library was the Library of the General Staff and Headquarters established on the initiative of Prince N.M. Volkonsky and Count A.A. Arakcheev in 1811. In the 1810s, regimental (officers') libraries were formed in Semenovsky (1810), Preobrazhensky (1811) and other regiments of the St. Petersburg garrison; soldiers' libraries became numerous since the 1840s. In 1831, the Rumyantsev Museum was opened to the public and presented an extensive library (in 1861, it was transferred to Moscow; its book collection formed the basis of the Russian State Library). Libraries of various associations also boasted expensive book collections, like those of the Free Society of the Russian World (1818), the Society of German Doctors (1819), the Society of Medical and Physical (Natural) Sciences (1826), Archeographic Commission (1834), Russian Geographic Society (1845), Philanthropic Society (1868), etc. Extensive book depositories were managed by scientific societies of the University (Russian Anthropological Society, Historical Society, Legal Society and others). A rich music library was collected in the Philharmonia (1882, founded on the initiative of M.P. Azanchevsky and A.G. Rubinstein on the basis of the music collection of the Court Orchestra); major art libraries included the library of the Imperial Arts Foundation (1820) and Imperial Foundation for Support of the Arts (1870). In the late 19th - early 20th centuries there existed a large number of public libraries; they were created by institutions of local government, regional and district rural administrations, and charitable societies: Society for Public Entertainment (1870s), Reading Aid Society for the Sick and Poor (1890s), Society for People's Sobriety (1890s) and others. The Library of the State Duma was founded in 1906. In the second part of the 19th - early 20th centuries, there existed several illegal libraries of revolutionary organisations, groups and political parties. The Northern Union of Russian Workers (1878, organiser S.N. Khalturin) boasted a considerable book collection; in the 1880-90s, libraries of Marxist and Neo-Narodnik groups and circles were formed. In the early 20th century there appeared libraries of workers' societies for self-education (Knowledge is Force, Knowledge and Advantage, etc.). By 1913 in St. Petersburg, there were 339 libraries with the total of 10 million volumes. In the 1900s, the Russian Bibliological Society founded the library science section (chaired by E.A. Wolter), that was reorganised in 1908 into the St. Petersburg Library Science Society, that issued Librarian Journal in 1910-15, and called the All-Russian Library Congress in 1911 in St. Petersburg. By 1917 in Petrograd, there were public libraries of various types - free people's athenaeums, libraries of charitable societies, private libraries, etc. To oversee Petrograd libraries, the Library Department of the People's Comissariat of Education and the Central Committee of State Libraries were established in 1918. Many private libraries were nationalised, libraries of various establishments were reorganised, their collections were either transferred to other libraries or broken up. In 1918, libraries of a new type were established (like libraries of out-of-school education section of the Education Committee of the Northern Region Union of Communes). In 1919, 28 free libraries were formed on the basis of confiscated private commercial libraries, and athenaeums were opened in every district of the city. The majority of public libraries passed under the control of the People's Commissariat of Education. The network of Leningrad libraries in the 1920-30s introduced the only of its kind libraries at Education Centres as part of the campaign against illiteracy and for the purpose of educational and cultural work with the population. In the 1930s there appeared numerous trade union libraries. The most well-known of them was the library of the Club of Industrial Cooperative Societies (in 1933, its collection numbered about 13,000 volumes, serving about 1,000 readers). Among others, the Central City Children Library was founded in 1921, the Scientific and Technical Library — in 1925, the Library for the Blind — in 1927, the Regional Library — in 1944, the Scientific Medical Library — in 1945, and the Scientific and Technical Library — in 1957. By 1 June 1941, the network of public district libraries united 51 libraries with the total of 1,315,000 volumes. During the Siege of 1941-44, the network was reduced to 31 libraries and 18 branches. The State Public Saltykov-Shchedrin Library, the Library of the Academy of Sciences, libraries of the Academy of Arts and Leningrad State University, the Central Children’s Library, the Scientific and Technical Library, Mayakovsky Central City Library, the Theatre Library and 25 libraries of Central district worked throughout the war. In the 1990s, the network of libraries changed considerably, Party libraries were closed and the number of trade union libraries was reduced considerably. In the 1990s, there were 1340 libraries and about 1600 non-library book depositories with the joint book stock of 250,000 volumes in St. Petersburg. About 200 of these libraries were within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation, and about 500 reported to trade unions. There were also 100 public libraries of other departments and organisations, over 600 school libraries, 135 libraries of establishments for higher and specialised secondary education, 19 agricultural libraries, 28 medical libraries, and over 450 research libraries. Specialised libraries, like libraries for family reading, economic literature libraries, business information centres, the library of the Zoshchenko Museum, and a fishermen's library, etc, have appeared recently. In 2002 there were 190 general public libraries in St. Petersburg with the total of over 14,000,000 volumes, serving over 1,000,000 readers annually. Among libraries of other departments and organisations, there are 196 trade union libraries, 100 libraries of higher educational establishments, about 800 libraries of schools, lyceums and colleges. The Leningrad (today St. Petersburg) Library Society was founded in 1989 to unite library assistants of various departments.

References: Библиотеки Ленинграда: Справ. Л., 1948; Бабинцев С. М. Библиотеки Ленинграда: Справ. М., 1964; Справочник-путеводитель по библиотекам Санкт-Петербурга. СПб., 1993.

I. G. Matveeva.

Arakcheev Alexey Andreevich
Azanchevsky Mikhail Pavlovich
Bellizard Ferdinand M.
Bogdanov Andrey Ivanovich
Brift Ya.
Bruce Yakov Villimovich (James Daniel)
Buturlin Dmitry Petrovich
Catherine II, Empress
Cherkesov Alexander Alexandrovich
Golitsyn Dmitry Mikhailovich, Duke
Golitsyn Georgy Vladimirovich, Duke
Gorky Maxim (Alexey Maximovich Peshkov)
Keiser I.K.
Khalturin Stepan Nikolaevich
Mayakovsky Vladimir Vladimirovich
Menshikov Alexander Danilovich, Gracious Prince
Ovchinnikov Matvey K.
Peter I, Emperor
Plavilshchikov Peter Alexeevich
Plavilshchikov Vasily Alexeevich
Rubinstein Anton Grigorievich
Saltykov-Shchedrin (real name Saltykov) Mikhail Evgrafovich
Schmitzdorf G.
Serno-Solovyevich Nikolay Alexandrovich
Sleptsov Alexander Alexandrovich
Sopikov Vasily Stepanovich
the Rumyantsevs
Tumansky F.O.
Volkonsky Peter Mikhailovich, Duke
Weitbrecht I.Y.
Wolter E.A.
Zoschenko Mikhail Mikhailovich

Библиотеки Ленинграда: Справ. Л., 1948
Справочник-путеводитель по библиотекам Санкт-Петербурга. СПб., 1993
Бабинцев С. М. Библиотеки Ленинграда: Справ. М., 1964

The subject Index
Theological Academy
Naval Cadet Corps
Free Economic Society
Russian National Library
Mayakovsky Library, central, municipal
State Assembly
Pashkov House (Liteiny Avenue)
Ministry of Finance
Gorky Science Library
St. Petrischule
Rumyantsev Museum
Free Society of Lovers of Russian Literature, Literary and Social Organization
Russian Geographical Society
Society for the Encouragement of the Arts
Union of Communes of the Northern Region
Theatre Library
Library for the Blind