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.
library network was set up and develop-ed in Soviet times when
libraries were incorpo-rated into the country’s educational system
and were allotted the task of raising the political, cultural and
literacy level of worker and peasants.
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.
introduction of the policy of
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.
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.
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 world’s largest university library. The Saltykov-Shchedrin
Russian National Library in St. Petersburg is the country’s 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.