National Library of Russia

views updated Jun 27 2018


The oldest state public library in Russia, the National Library of Russia is the second largest library in the Russian Federation, after the Russian State Library, with holdings of more than thirty-three million volumes, and a national center of librarianship, bibliography, and book studies.

Founded in St. Petersburg in 1795 by Empress Catherine II as the Imperial Public Library, the origins of the National Library of Russia lie in Catherine's devotion to the philosophy of the Enlightenment in the early period of her reign. She envisioned a library that would serve as a repository for all books produced in the Russian empire, books published in Russian outside the empire, and books about Russia published in foreign languages, and that would be open to the Russian public for the purpose of general social enlightenment. The library officially opened to the public on January 2,1814. The nucleus of the original collection was the collection, brought to St. Petersburg from Warsaw in 1795, of Counts Józef Andrzej and Andrzej Stanislaw Zaluski, eminent Polish aristocrats and bibliophiles. In 1810 Tsar Alexander I signed a special statute designating the library as a legal depository entitled to receive two mandatory copies of imprints produced in the Russian empire. Throughout its history, the library has had an enormous influence on the political, cultural, and scientific life of Russia.

From 1845 to 1861 the library administered the Rumyantsev Museum that was later moved to Moscow and eventually became the Russian State Library. In March 1917 the Imperial Public Library was renamed the Russian Public Library. With the consolidation of Soviet power its status was redefined, and in 1925 its name changed to State Public Library in Leningrad, as it was designated the national library of the RSFSR, while the V. I. Lenin State Library of the USSR (later the Russian State Library) assumed the function of all-union state library. In 1932 it was renamed Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library, and a Soviet title of honor was added to its name in 1939. The library continued to function during the siege of Leningrad from 1941 to 1944, despite the evacuation of valuable materials. The Zaluski collection was returned to Poland between 1921 and 1927 and destroyed during World War II. In 1992, after the dissolution of the USSR, the facility acquired the name Russian National Library and became one of two national libraries in the Russian Federation.

The library possesses the world's most complete collection of Russian books and periodicals. Among the highlights of the collections are Slavonic incunabula and other early printed works produced within and outside of Russia, including two-thirds of all known sixteenth-century Cyrillic imprints, and all the known publications of Frantsysk Skaryna; the largest collection of books from the Petrine era printed in civil script; and the Free Russian Press collection of approximately 15,000 illegal publications dating from 1853 to 1917. The Manuscript Division holds the world's richest collection of Old Russian and Slavonic manuscripts from the eleventh to the seventeenth century. The number of its manuscripts exceeds 400,000, in more than fifty languages. Among the library's other treasures are some 250,000 foreign imprints about Russia produced before 1917, approximately 6,000 incunabula reflecting the growth of printing in western Europe in the fifteenth century, and the personal library of Voltaire, consisting of some 7,000 volumes. It possesses archives of more than 1,300 public figures, writers, scholars, artists, composers, architects, and others, including Peter I, Catherine II, Nicholas II, Mikhail Kutuzov, Alexander Suvorov, Gavriil Derzhavin, Ivan Krylov, Vasily Zhukovsky, Alexander Griboyedov, Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vissarion Belinsky, Alexander Herzen, Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Joseph Brodsky, Ivan Kramskoy, Boris Kustodiev, Ilya Repin, Vasily Stasov, Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Peter Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Chaliapin, and Michel Fokine.

The main building, completed in 1801 on the corner of Nevsky Prospect and Sadovaya Street, was designed in the classical style by Yegor Sokolov. Additions to the building were made over the years, and a large facility was completed in 1998 on Moskovsky Prospect. By virtue of its longstanding role as custodian of Russia's cultural heritage, the library holds a unique place in Russian history and is recognized as one of the foremost cultural institutions of the Russian Federation.

See also: archives; catherine ii; education; goldenage of russian literature; russian state library


Kasinec, Edward, and Davis, Robert H., Jr. (2001). "National Library of Russia." In International Dictionary of Library Histories, vol. 2, ed. David H. Stam. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn.

The National Library of Russia, 17951995. (1995). Saint Petersburg: Liki Rossii.

Stuart, Mary. (1986). Aristocrat-Librarian in Service to the Tsar: Aleksei Nikolaevich Olenin and the Imperial Public Library. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs.

Janice T. Pilch

Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), United States National Commission on

views updated Jun 11 2018

Libraries and Information Science (Nclis), United States National Commission On

The membership of the commission consists of the Librarian of Congress and fourteen other members who serve five-year terms. Five members of the commission are required to be professional librarians or information science specialists. Other members can be non-professionals, but must have distinguished themselves as having a special dedication to literacy causes, library technology, or information services. Several well-known authors and celebrity champions of literacy have served on the commission. Three committee members are designated to oversee policy addressing information access and literacy issues of the handicapped, elderly, and children. All members are appointed to the position by the President, and approved by the legislature.

During the 1990s, the commission focused on formulating policies and guidelines for the use of technology in library systems. The advent of the internet created new opportunities for the creation of electronic information storage and dissemination. As individual libraries, including the Library of Congress, converted their own directory systems from paper to electronic indices, NCLIS issued advisory guidelines addressing equal access concerns for the vision and hearing impaired. Internet access and electronic databases of government information within library systems was the focus of a 1995 committee study, with special attention paid to numerous security issues. The committee endeavors to make public-domain government information readily available through the library system, but also advises on security measures to adequately curate more sensitive information.

In 2001, the NCLIS undertook a study of the distribution and dissemination of government archives and information in national, state, local, and school library systems. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the NCLIS drafted a policy on the availability and dissemination of terrorism readiness and prevention information.



United States National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. <>(1 December 2002).