Articles / Libraries


Subject / Archives. Libraries.

The oldest libraries in the locations now component of the Leningrad oblast belonged to monasteries and churches. Under Peter I book collecting also become the occupation of individual, particularly top officials. For instance, private collection of Tsesarevich Aleksey Petrovich, kept in the country estate of Rozhdestveno, comprised 36 Russian books, 28 of which were manuscripts, in particular, dating back to 16th and 17th centuries. The 19th century increase in the number of libraries was down to the establishment and development of network of educational institutions. One of the first libraries was book collection of Emperor Nicholas I Orphan Institute, founded in 1803 in Gatchina Town. School libraries numbering from a dozen to almost a thousand volumes on various topics belonged to a range of volost training schools founded in 1830. In 1896 in St Petersburg there were 35 free public libraries (21 Russian and 14 Finnish ones). In 1894 Committee on Literacy at Liberal Economic Society initiated systematic work with a view to organize free libraries in rural areas, which served as foundation for contemporary libraries in the villages of the Leningrad oblast. These were financed by the Committee and zemstvo. A range of libraries were also founded by individual benefactors / philanthropists. They include Putilovskaya Public Library in Schlusselburg Uyezd (founded in 1895, the bulk of funds donated by merchant Y. Y. Ignashkin); public reading room in Koporye Village in Peterhof Uyezd (1894, founded by S. A. Zinovyeva, wife of Court Counselor), public reading room in Rozhdestveno Village in Tsarskoye Selo Uyezd (See Rozhdestveno Village Library) and others. A certain role in the development of library services belongs to Guardianship on Public Sobriety, founded in 1894. This, in 1905 only in Yamburg Uyezd the local Guardianship founded eight public libraries, funded jointly by the Guardianship and zemstvo. A range of villages received study library under the will of publisher F. F. Pavlenkov; their funds were completed with books and brochures published by his company. There also were libraries founded at parish schools, with eparchial administration and congregations helping with the organization. By the beginning of the 1990s St Petersburg Province already had 100 school and parish libraries. In rural areas there also were specialized libraries on agriculture. The appearance of libraries in major cities of the province and in uyezd centers relates to the developments in community life and foundation of different societies and circles. In 1898 Public Library of Devotees of Russian Historical Education Society in the memory of Emperor Alexander III was opened in Gatchina Town. Libraries of this kind also were opened in other uyezd towns. Different institutions also had their own libraries ( for zemstvo employees, military offices, etc). There were a lot of private libraries in uyezd towns; they offered paid services, and the books could be borrowed on collateral. On the initiative of the intelligentsia, primarily teachers, were organized public paid libraries. In the beginning of the 20th century workers’ circles and culture and educational societies developed into trade union libraries. There was no general plan of organizing libraries in uyezds; as a rule, they opened at the request of the population. After 1917 there was a substantial growth in the number of libraries due to organizing new ones, stocked with books confiscated from individuals and nobility country estates. In uyezd cities the funds of public libraries merged with the funds of libraries from liquidated societies and institutions. This marked the founding of central libraries, reorganized in 1920s into Central uyezd libraries. In towns, district libraries were also organized. In all, in 1921 there were 33 libraries in the towns of the province. In January 1919 former public libraries were subordinated to Extra-Curricular Department of the Commissariat for Public Education. About the same period village reading rooms were organized, often with whole libraries and their inventory handed over to them. In 1920 extra-curricular subdivisions of public education were reorganized as political education departments, which made the work of libraries ideologically oriented. Village reading rooms became centres of ideological education. During the reform of 1921 and 1922 instead of teachers the libraries were staffed with employees who met the new demands to party affiliation and social background. The number of libraries and personnel decreased; the books could not be borrowed free of charge. By mid-1920s the situation slightly improved and there was an increase in the number of libraries, but they were already different, with funds containing radically ideological sources. In 1925 – 1926 the rural library network consisted of region or volost, mobile and village libraries at reading rooms. In the middle of the 1930s the system developed in three major subdivisions: state libraries, libraries at state farms and machine-and-tractor stations, and collective farm libraries funded by the farms’ own budgets.
Their major library acticity included working with newspapers, readings aloud, exhibitions, design of recommendation posters, propaganda of books on agriculture, talks on new way of life and reference services. At this period libraries and village reading rooms helped in solving the illiteracy problem. Before the Great Patriotic War in the Leningrad oblast were 27 district and regional, 10 city, 218 village and 9 children libraries. During the war the system of libraries was practically destroyed, and when the Leningrad oblast was liberated from Nazi troops only 50 village libraries remained. The re-establishment began already in 1944. Leningrad Oblast Library was founded with the aim of organizing the interlibrary loan service for the population of the liberated regions and methodical guidance of library services in the Leningrad oblast (See: Leningrad Oblast Comprehensive Research Library / LOUNB). In 1966 it started to develop the integrated system of library services, thus setting up a base for centralization of libraries, which took place between 1973 and 1985. The Leningrad oblast received 17 regional and 4 town centralized library systems, which included central and filial branch libraries. With the emergence of local government institutions centralized library systems were placed under the municipal authority. Since 2006 as a result of forming of new municipal institutions filial branch libraries were placed under the authority of village and town governments; being part of socio-cultural complexes, they have developed and maintained close links with all the institutions and organizations in local communities. Former central libraries (now interlocation libraries) have retained only part of their functions of providing interlibrary exchange of municipal districts library resources. Today the population of the Leningrad oblast has access to 413 libraries, including 2 oblast, 311 village and 45 children libraries. Their total fund comprises 7 billion units, with 12 million units borrowed annually. Over 500 000 readers are registered in the libraries; every year oblast libraries are visited by 4 million people. New information technologies are widely introduced. Libraries of the Leningrad oblast serve as keepers of history, traditions and spiritual heritage of the region. Their funds contain records of old resident memories, audio-visual materials, photographs, collections of postcards, copies of archive documents, of materials from regional museums and collections of experts in local history. Village libraries organize mini-museums, collecting things of family life and works of local craftsmen.
The pooling of cultural and regional study potentials of the work of librarians, local history experts and scientists is enhanced by “Province Regional Study Readings” initiated by LOUNB.
Integration of regional study resources into a joint online catalogue of oblast libraries is now under way. There have been a number of publications on regional studies, including bibliographical index, regional study glossaries, calendars indicating field and red-letter days, reference books, materials of research seminars and postcards; librarians write up feature materials on regional studies. A project has been launched on creation of full-text databases available on CD-ROMs. The most active participants are Vyborg Town Central Library named after A. Aalto, Gatchina Town Central Library named after A. I. Kuprin, Tosno Town Central Regional Library. The oblast libraries retain their principal functions as institutions providing information and education. Practically all central libraries at local governments run literary institutions, clubs and salons and exhibitions of local artists. They hold regular activity named “Literary Invasion: St Petersburg to the Leningrad oblast”, federal budget program “Culture for Disabled People” is also under way, as well as many others, including traditional French “Reading Festival”. The Leningrad oblast libraries have won awards in a number of contests and grants of Russian and international charitable foundations.

Blyudova, Lyudmila Konstantinovna

Alexander III, Emperor
Alexei Petrovich, Tsesarevich
Ignashkin, Yakov Yakovlevich
Pavlenkov, Florenty Fyodorovich
Zinovyeva, Sophia Aleksandrovna (nee Weinmarn)

Leningrad Oblast, the/Lomonosov District/Koporye Village
Historical Toponyms/Saint Petersburg Gubernia, the/Yamburg Uyezd

Библиотечное строительство в Ленинградской области (1945–1995): Указатель литературы. СПб., 1996
Библиотечное краеведение Ленинградской области / Сост. Л.К. Блюдова. СПб., 1996
Библиотеки: Люди и книги: Очерки по истории библиотек и книжных собраний Гатчины. – Гатчина, 1997
Форум сельских библиотек Ленинградской области. СПб., 2002
«Россия, Русь! Храни себя, храни»: Сельская библиотека и краеведение. СПб., 2004
Козлова Н.С. Организация библиотечного обслуживания населения Ленинградской области, основные количественные показатели, кадровый состав библиотек // Область культуры: Информационно-методический сб. 2006. № 4, С. 44-52

Subject Index
Gatchina Central Town Library named after A.I. Kuprin
Leningrad Oblast Universal Research Library, the
Popular Library of Emperor Alexander III Memory Society of ardent supporters of Historical Education
Putilovo Rural Library, the
Rozhdestveno Rural Library, the
Rozhdestveno, a country estate
Tosno Central District Library, the
Vyborg Central Town Library named after A. Aalto