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Entries / Russian National Library

Russian National Library

Categories / Science. Education/Libraries

RUSSIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY (RNB) (18 Sadovaya Street), the oldest state general public library of the country, a research centre in the field of bibliology, bibliography and library science. It was founded in 1795 by Empress Catherine the Great as the Imperial Public Library and National Book Depository and opened to the public in 1814. Since 1810, it has been entitled to receive a free copy of each publication in Russia. In 1917, it was renamed Russian Public Library, in 1925 - State Public Library of Leningrad; in 1932-92, it was named after M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. The Library has been known as the Russian National Library since 1992. The library’s directors and staff included, among others, A.S. Stroganov, A.N. Olenin, M.A. Korf, V.S. Sopikov, I.A. Krylov (memorial plaque), A.H. Vostokov, V.I. Sobolshchikov, V.F. Odoevsky, A.F. Bychkov, V.I. Mezhov, V.V. Stasov (memorial plaque), and O.A. Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya. G.V. Plekhanov and V.I. Lenin (memorial plaques) were readers of the library. During the Siege of 1941-44, the library didn't stop working. By 2002, the library contained about 34 million volumes. The Russian Department boasts the world’s largest collection of Russian books and periodicals, including the 16th century Cyrillic books, books of Petrine epoch, local publications, a collection of Free Russian Press (published in 1853-1917 abroad or underground in Russia), Soviet and White Guard leaflets, etc. The Foreign Literature collection features unique items like Rossika (books about Russia until 1917), Slavika (books in Slavonic), publications of the time of the English Revolution and the French Revolution, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the Paris Commune of 1871. The Department of Rare Books treasures the largest collection of incunabula and the private library of Voltaire (about 7,000 volumes). The Manuscript Department contains a wealth of over 400,000 written records in 50 languages, including about 40,000 manuscript books, among which there is Gospel of Ostromirovo (1056-57), Laurentian chronicles (1377), old Russian documents and bills, manuscripts and autographs of prominent culture and science workers; the Bastille archives, and a collection of West European and oriental manuscripts. Of special interest are the collections entitled “Petersburg - Leningrad (1741-1940)” and “Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War.” Since 1989 the Russian National Library has published the bibliography of literature on St. Petersburg (under various titles). The Library also holds P.N. Stolpyansky's data file on the history of St. Petersburg. The Library exchanges materials with 1,076 establishments in 73 countries of the world. Annually, the Russian National Library serves over 1,400,000 readers. The library has 32 reading halls with a seating capacity of 2,260, an information service centre and a book salon. The Russian National Library publishes monographs, research collections, bibliographies, academic commentaries and catalogues of rare materials. Subdivisions of the library are located at nine addresses in four city districts. The library building is an architectural monument of the Classicism style. The Library is housed in a complex of buildings on Sadovaya Street, Nevsky Prospekt and Ostrovskogo Square. The first building was constructed in 1796 - 1801 (architect E.T. Sokolov), the second - in 1828-34 (architect C.I. Rossi and A.F. Shchedrin), and the third - in 1896-1901 (architect E.S. Vorotilov). Its famous interiors include the Gothic Hall (Faust's Study, architects I.I. Gornostaev and V.I. Sobolshchikov), the Reading Hall (architects Sobolshchikov and Gornostaev) and the Grand Hall (architect E.S. Vorotilov). Departments and branches of the Library are located at 36 Fontanka Embankment (1804-07, architect G. Quarenghi), Liteiny Avenue, Obvodny Canal Embankment, and at other locations. The new complex of buildings at 165 Moskovsky Avenue (under construction since 1986, architect V.N. Shcherbin) will accommodate a collection of 20,000,000 volumes, and the seating capacity of the reading rooms will exceed 2,000 seats. In 2003, the first stage of the building project was completed. The new building holds 10,000,000 titles and can serve 2,000 readers at one time.

References: Императорская Публичная библиотека за сто лет, 1814-1914. СПб., 1914; История Государственной ... Публичной библиотеки им. М. Е. Салтыкова-Щедрина: К 150-летию б-ки, 1814-1964. Л., 1963; Сотрудники Российской национальной библиотеки - деятели науки и культуры: Биогр. слов.: В 3 т. СПб., 1995-2003; Острой О. С. Архитекторы Императорской Публичной библиотеки. СПб., 2000; Грин Ц. И., Третьяк А. М. Публичная библиотека глазами современников (1795-1917): Хрестоматия. СПб., 1998; То же. (1917-1929). СПб., 2003.

V. N. Zaitsev.

Bychkov Afanasy Fedorovich
Catherine II, Empress
Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaya Olga Antonovna
Gornostaev Ivan Ivanovich
Korf Modest Andreevich, Count
Krylov Ivan Andreevich
Lenin (real name Ulyanov) Vladimir Ilyich
Mezhov Vladimir Izmailovich
Odoevsky Vladimir Fedorovich
Olenin Alexey Nikolaevich
Plekhanov Georgy Valentinovich
Quarenghi Giacomo
Rossi Carl Ivanovich (Carlo Giovanni)
Saltykov-Shchedrin (real name Saltykov) Mikhail Evgrafovich
Shchedrin Apollon Feodosievich
Shcherbin Vladimir Nikolaevich
Sobolshchikov Vasily Ivanovich
Sokolov Egor Timofeevich
Sopikov Vasily Stepanovich
Stasov Vladimir Vasilievich
Stolpyansky Peter Nikolaevich
Stroganov Alexander Sergeevich, Count
Vorotilov Evgraf Sergeevich
Vostokov Alexander Hristoforovich

Fontanka River Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city
Liteiny Ave/Saint Petersburg, city
Moskovsky Ave/Saint Petersburg, city, house 165
Nevsky prospect/Saint Petersburg, city
Obvodny Canal Embankment/Saint Petersburg, city
Ostrovsky Square/Saint Petersburg, city
Sadovaya St./Saint Petersburg, city
Sadovaya St./Saint Petersburg, city, house 18

Императорская Публичная библиотека за сто лет, 1814 - 1914. СПб.
История Государственной ... Публичной библиотеки им. М. Е. Салтыкова-Щедрина: К 150-летию б-ки, 1814-1964. Л., 1963
Острой О. С. Архитекторы Императорской Публичной библиотеки. СПб., 2000
Сотрудники Российской национальной библиотеки - деятели науки и культуры: Биогр. слов. СПб., 1995-1999

The subject Index
Siege of 1941-44