Official Name of Library in Local Language
Name of the Institution in English, German and French
Name of Director or Chief Executive
Central Information Point Address
Central Telephone Number
Central Fax Number
The Russian State Library was founded on 1 July 1862 as Moscow's first free public library named The Library of the Moscow Public Museum and Rumiantsev Museum, or The Rumiantsev Library. Its original stock consisted mostly of Count Nicolai P. Rumiantsev's rich book and manuscript collection bestowed to the Russian State by his heirs. Its holdings grew intensively and increased 40 times as much as initially by 1917 thanks to generous private donations, 135 times by 1921 (nationalised collections), and 1445 times by now (purchase, exchange, gifts) in addition to the legal deposit granted to the Library on the day of its foundation.
According to The Federal Law "On Librarianship" passed on 23 November 1994 the RSL is a national library of Russia. It is the country's largest and the world's second largest depository of national and foreign materials - values of domestic and global culture. It is a major educational and information centre for culture, Russias leading research institution in the field of library and book science, bibliography and publishing history issuing 150-200 professional publications a year. Cooperating with the national bibliographic agency - The Russian Book Chamber - RSL is responsible for the retrospective part of the Russian National Bibliogpaphy and bibliographic control of "rossica".
The Library's first priority is to collect, to retain, and to make available to users, nationally and internationally, a copy of everything published in Russia. The RSL offers a variety of reference, information and lending services. All the items housed by the Library are available for research and reference purposes in its 19 reading rooms giving work place to 2 ths readers simultaneously, serving about 4.5 ths visitors and delivering more than 30 ths items a day. Users have free access to RSL card catalogues, consultations, interlibrary loan, exhibitions. One has to pay for photo- and microcopying, using CD-ROM databases, ordering thematic bibliographic reference lists.
With its over 3 ths partners in Russia and abroad the Library remains one of the world's leading centres for international book exchange and interlibrary loan. Only severe financial crisis of 1996 temporarily paralysed these crucial activities being now revitalised. The Library actively collaborates with its peers in Russia (first of all with the second national library of Russia in Saint Petersburg) and abroad, as well as with quite a number of adjacent institutions and professional organisations, especially to mention IFLA, Russian Library Association, Library Assembley of EuroAsia.
According to its new modernization strategy officially adopted in 1996 the Library's general mission is to contribute to the development of science and culture, to the dissemination of information, to strengthening mutual understanding between peoples and cultures, to solution of main social, economic and cultural problems to secure prosperity of Russia. Such a formulation endorsed by the State has marked a transition from the deeply rooted ideological function to the information and enlightening one which must mean a fundamental change of mentality and technology. This way is leaded by The Modernization Programme of the Russian State Library developed and being implemented with the assistance of a special international commission of experts represented by UNESCO, Commission of the European Union, The Library of Congress (US), The British Library, La Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin "Preussischer Kulturbesitz"(Germany).
The stocks of the Library are unique and extremely varied; they comprise 41.7 million items, including 17.6 mln books and serial volumes, 13 mln journals, more than 650 ths newpapers (volumes), 540 ths single manuscripts and volumes, 645 ths other non-published materials, 150 ths maps, 350 ths music scores and sound records, about 1.5 mln printed graphics, 1.3 mln single sheet texts, 2.2. mln items of technical documentation, 28 ths audio-visual materials, 3.6 mln items in microfilm, microfiche and machine readable format. The foreign part of the entire collection counts more than 12 mln items (29 per cent).
The RSL collects foreign serials of research interest, "rossica" of research interest, European and oriental language books of research, historical and cultural importance wherever and whenever published. In its manuscript collections it focuses on its traditional strengths and coordinates with other state archives. It maintains extensive coverage of the world's major national newspapers, government publications and official information, scientific conference literature, UN and its specialised agencies publications.
The Library collection is arranged as a system of separate stocks serving special categories of users. In such a way it singles out: main stacks, rare books, manuscripts, reference materials, current periodicals, old newspapers, domestic theses, sheet music, sound records, cartographic items, printed graphic, ephemera, military science literature, oriental books, library science literature, Russian emigration literature, classified items, microfilms.
RSL serves all Russian and foreign citizens over 18 (with few exceptions) irrespective of their social status, education level, religion or ideology. To have access to the Library's reading rooms one has to apply for a pass. The reading rooms are also specialised according to users categories: Research Reading Room Number 1 (RRR No.1)- renowned Russian scholars, foreign researchers; RRR No.2 - researchers in natural and technical sciences; RRR No.3 - researchers in social sciences, arts and humanities; General Reading Room - students, general public. Each of 15 specialised collections has its own reading room, too. One needs a special admission to work in the reading room of The Rare Book Department or to have access to classified literature (limited by law only).
Being a part of the ramified library system RSL performs as "the last resort" for the users who need to see material not readily available elsewhere. The Library's staff may direct an enquirer to a more appropriate institution - one of many perfect Moscow libraries - if the national library collection is not required. Access to all reading rooms is free of charge. New readers are asked to have a passport, a small photograph and apply to:
The Reader Admissions Office
Tel: + 7 095 222 8369
The Reader Admission Office is open every day except Sundays (temporarily), profilactic days (last Monday of every month), or holidays. The readers are welcome on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Library's Central Exhibition Gallery and The Book Museum situated in the Main Building, 3/5 Vozdvizhenka, 3rd Entrance, are open, free of charge, Monday to Saturday (except last Monday of every month or holidays), 10 a.m. to 17 p.m.
All tours are paid. Excursions to The Book Museum have to be ordered beforehand - every months on the 15th for the next month (tel: +7 095 222 8672) - and are leaded every day (except those The Museum does not work on) from 10 to 11.30 a.m.
The Russian State Library's WWW Server - was open on 1 May 1997 in Russian, on 1 June 1997 in English.
Online Public Access Catalogue - will be availible soon.
(c) LibWeb, 1997