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There are over 150,000 libraries in Russia including 63,000 school libraries, 30,000 scientific and technical libraries, 4,500 trade union libraries, 1,500 medical libraries, 760 agricultural literature libraries, 650 libraries at higher educational institutions, and 440 academic libraries.
Entrance to the Russian State Library This vast library network was set up and develop-ed in Soviet times when libraries were incorpo-rated into the countrys educational system and were allotted the task of raising the political, cultural and literacy level of worker and peasants.

Under Soviet rule, libraries were centralized, and a system of state-controlled acquisition of new books was set up that allowed Soviet cultural authorities to maintain ideological supervision over what kinds of books the population had access to.  

With the introduction of the policy of glasnost in the mid-1980s, some of the major handicaps under which Russian libraries had previously worked began to be removed: censorship was eliminated and books long held in closed collections were made available to the public. However, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the drastic reduction of state subsidies to libraries has caused many of them to close their doors or to reduce their acquisitions and services. 

The countrys best-known and largest library, the Russian State Library (called the Lenin Library in Soviet times) holds about 41 million volumes including collections of ancient manuscripts and the first books ever printed, as well as manuscripts of celebrated Russian authors and scientists, unique collections of drawings, posters, postcards and popular prints. Since its foundation in 1862, the library receives copies of all books published in Russia.

The capitals other major libraries are the State Public Historical Library (over 3 million volumes) and the Russian State Library of Foreign Literature (4.5 million items in 132 languages). The library at Moscow State University (over 7 million volumes) is considered to be the worlds largest university library. The Saltykov-Shchedrin Russian National Library in St. Petersburg is the countrys oldest public library founded in 1795. Its book stock numbers over 28 million volumes, including the fullest collection of 19th century Russian books and periodicals.




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