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The Russian Academy of Sciences Library (BAN)

Name and Contact Points


Official Name of Library in Local Language
The Russian Academy of Sciences Library (BAN)

The director:
Valerii Pavlovich Leonov, professor, Ph. D.

Deputy directors:
Irina Mikhailovna Beliaeva(research activity)
Vladimir Fedorovich Zhuraparov (general questions)

Scientific secretary:
Nataliia Vladimirovna Kolpakova, Ph. D.

The contact address:
199034 St.-Petersburg
Birzhevaia Liniia, 1

(812) 218 3592
(812) 218 4091

(812) 218 7436

Electronic mail:
ban@info.rasl.spb.ru (main address)
bancd@rasl.nw.ru (additional address)

Brief History, Basic Functions

The Russian Academy of Sciences Library (to 1992 - the Library of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, in 1917-1925 - the Russian Academy of Sciences Library, in 1725-1917 - the Library of the Imperial Academy of Sciences) was founded by Peter I in 1714 as the first state-owned public library of Russia. Now it is one of the largest libraries in the world, the main library of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) with a repute of a research institute in library science, bibliography, library automation, bibliology, scholarly description of ancient manuscripts, preservation and restoration of documents, safety of libraries and archives. The Library is a member of IFLA, it cooperates with UNESCO and other international organisations, the largest libraries, information and restoration centres of the world.

BAN historically was developed as a centralized library system including the Main Library and 32 special scientific libraries (as departments and sectors) at research branches of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

BAN is a library and information service provider for fundamental researches of RAS.

Initially, BAN stock consisted of three collections: the Library of the Pharmaceutical Chamber, the Collection of the Prince of Kurland, the Gottorp Collection (books received by Peter I as a gift from the Prince of Holstein and stored in his Summer Palace). In 1725 the Library together with the Chamber of Curiosities was transferred to the Imperial Academy of Sciences and became one of its first scientific institutions. Since 1728 the Library was placed in a building constructed for it and the Chamber of Curiosities on Vasil'evskii Island. In 1921-1924 BAN was relocated to a building specially constructed in 1911-1914 (architect R. Marfel'd) on the Strelka (Point) of Vasil'evskii Island, in which it is housed nowadays.

The history of BAN is closely connected with development of Russian science. In the 19th century with the formation of research establishments of the Academy of Sciences the scientific libraries opened with them which originally contained items on the subject from BAN stock: libraries of the Archive (1800), the Astronomical Observatory (1804), the Numismatic Chamber (1804-1806), the Asian Museum (1818), the Botanical Museum (1824), the Zoological Museum (1831), the Astronimical Observatory in Pulkovo (1838), the Mineralogical Museum (1880), the Chemical Laboratory (1881), the Physiological Laboratory (1889), the Anatomy and Physiology of Plants Laboratory (1890), the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (1894) etc. Some of these libraries have merged again with the Main Library, others have formed unique book collections both independently and through BAN, and subsequently have come into its system.

During the three centuries the stocks of BAN were increased by the genius and labour of outstanding scientific and state figures of Russia "for use and preservation henceforth". Among them were M. V. Lomonosov, S. K. Kotel'nikov, G. F. Miller, V. N. Tatishchev, K. M. Baer, A. A. Kunik, A. A. Shakhmatov, N. K. Nikol'skii, S. F. Platonov, S. I. Vavilov and many others.

Alongside with current receipts the updating of BAN stocks was carried out due to gifts and purchases of separate book collections and books.

Among the receipts of the 18th century were libraries of A. A. Vinius, A. Pitkarn, R. Areskin, Ia. B. Brius, Peter I and his family, manuscripts sent by V. N. Tatishchev, Radziwill's Library and many other private collections.

In the 19th century the stock of the Library was replenished with the collection of maps of Russia from the Geographical Department, Russian journals of the Ministry of National Education, books of the Committee of Foreign Censorship, periodic publications (a gift from A. A. Polovtsev), libraries of E. E. Keller and other academicians, manuscripts and rare editions from libraries of F. A. Tolstoi and many others.

At the beginning of the 20th century manuscripts of A. Ia. Iatsimirskii, F. A. Vitberg, N. P. Likhachev etc were added to the stock of BAN. It is also necessary to name the collection of the editions 1905-1907 of S. N. Troinitskii, the donation of E. A. Vol'ter, the collection of Serb books of E. Iu. Muka (Vienna). In 1910 the libraries of the Mikhalkovs, A. Ia. Passover were added.


The book stock of BAN totals about 20 million items of national and foreign publications, manuscripts, cards, microforms and other documents. The acting stocks of the centralized system of BAN include more than 16.5 million copies of publications, including more than 6.5 million foreign ones, i.e. about 40%. The periodical publications comprise more than 8 million copies (including more than 4 million foreign ones). Since 1746 BAN has been receiving a legal deposit copy of all publications of the Academy of Sciences, and since 1783 a free-of-charge legal deposit copy of all national publications, and to 1810 it was the only library in Russia possessing such rights. The acquisition by BAN of the current literature is also made by purchases in Russia and abroad and by international book exchange with 2.5 thousand libraries and scientific institutions in 84 countries of the world. The new receipts make annually more than 400 thousand copies, 100 thousand of them are foreign publications.

The 18615 manuscripts in Old Russian and foreign languages are stored in the Manuscript and Rare Book Department. Among the Russian manuscripts there are parchment fragments of the 11th century, annals of the 15th century: the Ipatiev and Radziwill Chronicles, the Litsevoi Chronicle Collection of the 16th century, manuscripts of the 17th and 18th centuries and hand-written maps of the 18th century.

In the Manuscript and Rare Book Department among rare items there are Russian books of Cyrillic print of the 15-20 centuries, including those printed by Shvaipolt Feol', Frantsisk Skorina, the Vukovichi, "Apostol" and the so-called Ostrozhskaia Bibliia printed by Ivan Fedorov and many others. The West European literature of the 15-20 centuries is represented by incunables, editions by the Aldine, Planten and his successors, the Et'enn, Elsevier etc.

The unique maps of Russia and atlases, both Russian and foreign, produced in the 16-18 centuries are stored in the Department of Cartography, among them - the Atlas of the Russian Empire issued in 1745. The main part of the stock consists of modern Russian and foreign maps and atlases.

Of special value for researchers is the Memorial Collection of Peter I, and also books from private collections of the 18-20 centuries, which are stored not only in the Manuscript and Rare Book Department but also in the Baer's and Slavic sectias of the main stock.

The stock of the Department of the Literature in Languages of the Countries of Asia and Africa contains about 250 thousand scientific titles in 35 languages. The most complete collection of Japanese scientific and technical periodic publications and series is stored in the Department.

The stock of the Reference Department is particularly valuable. It totals more than 300 thousand publications, among them encyclopedias, directories, dictionaries, bibliographic editions on various branches of science and engineering. The printed catalogues of the largest libraries of the world are actually important bibliographic manuals.

The archival collection of the publications of the Academy of Sciences contains all materials issued by this establishment since 1727 till present time. Since 1944 the Reserved Stock of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences has entered into the structure of BAN. It totals more than 1.8 million copies of the 18-20 centuries.

The system of catalogues and card files opens the contents of the main, subsidiary and specialized stocks and contains the items of information on the literature received since 1714.

Users Service

The specifics of the Library of RAS is the presence of the centralised library system, which includes, besides the Main Library, 32 libraries-branches at research institutes of RAS, that provide branch service, both in reading rooms of the institute libraries and, through the system of Interlibrary Loan, from stocks of those libraries in the main reading room of BAN. The presence of the branch libraries stocks substitutes absence of branch reading rooms in the Main Library, where, besides the main reading room, providing the readers with literature on common subjects from the basic storage and the reading room of New Acquisitions Exhibition, there are 11 reading rooms with the specialized stocks. Under conditions of the centralized library system the uniform reader's card allows use not only of the Main Library but also stocks of branch libraries of RAS.

The long-term analysis of readers body of the Main Library enables us to assert that BAN was and is a public universal scientific library without departmental restrictions. The leading role in realization of fundamental researches in St.-Petersburg belongs to institutes and scientific establishments of RAS. Out of total of the readers of the Main Library, 43% are scientific employees, 36 % have a scientific degree of doctor or candidate of sciences.

The individual home service of BAN is used by some categories of the readers: academicians, members - correspondents, doctors and candidates of sciences.

The information, accessible online:

BAN home-page in English can be found at the address:

During the first half of 1998 it is planned to open a Web-site of BAN at the address:

(c) LibWeb, 1997