1902 Encyclopedia > Libraries > Libraries - Modern World - Russia

(Part 9)


The Imperial Public Library at St Petersbrug is the third largist library in the world, and now claims to possess 1,000,000 printed volumes. The commencement of this magnificent collection may be said to have been the books seized by the Czar Peter during his invasion of Courland in 1714; the library did not receive any notable augmentation, however, till the year 1795, when, by the acquisition of the famous Zaluski collection, the Imperial Library suddenly attained a place in the first rank among great European libraries. The Zaluski Library was formed by the Polish count Joseph Zaluski, who collected at his own expense during forty-three years no less than 200,000 volumes, which were added to by his brother Andrew, bishop of Cracow, by whom in 1747 the library was thrown open to the public. At his death it was left under the control of the Jesuit College at Warsaw; on the suppression of the order it was taken care of by the Commission of Education; and finally in 1795 it was transferred by Suwaroff to St Peterbsrug as a trophy of war. It then extended to 260,000 printed volumes and 10,000 MSS., but in consequence of the withdrawal of many medical and illustrated works to enrich other institutions, hardly 238,000 volumes remained in 1810. Literature, history, and theology formed the main features of the Zaluski Library; the last class alone amounted to one-fourth of the whole number. Since the commencement of this century, through the liberality of the sovereigns, the gifts of individuals, careful purchases, and the application of the law of 1810, whereby two copies of every Russian publication must be deposited, here the Imperial Library has attained its present extensive dimensions. Nearly one hundred different collections, some of them very valuable and extensive, have been added from time to time. they include, for example, the Tolstoe Sclavonic collection (1830), Tischendorf’s MSS. (1858), the Dolgorousky Oriental MSS. (1859), and the Firkowitsch Hebrew (karaite) collection (1862-63), the libraries of Adelung (1858) and Tobler (1877), that of the Slavonic scholar Jungmann (1856), and the national MSS. of Karamzin (1867). This system of acquiring books, while it has made some departments exceedingly rich, has left others comparatively meagre. The library was not regularly opened to the public until 1814; it is under the control of the minister of public instruction. In the printed book department the yearly average of readers is now 107,000, and of books consulted 285,300. The annual grant from the treasury is 79,174 silver roubles; an income of 3438 roubles is derived from other sources. The official estimate of the number of printed books is 1,000,000 volumes, with 19,059 maps and 75,000 prints and photographs. The yearly accession amount to about 28,000. The Russian books number 100,000 and the Russia 30,000 volumes; the Aldines and Elzevirs form a nearly perfect collection; and the incunabula are numerous and very instructively arranged.

The manuscripts include 26,000 codices, 41,340 antographs, 4689 charters, and 576 maps. The glory of this department is the celebrated Codez Sinaiticus of the Greek Bible, brought from the convent of St Catherine on Mount Sinai by Tischhendorf in 1859. Other important Biblical and patristic codices are to be found among the Greek and Latin MSS.; the Hebrew MSS. include some of the most ancient that exist, and the Samaritan collection is one of the largest in Europe; the Oriental MSS. comprehend many valuable texts, and among the French are some of great historical value.

The general catalogues are in writing, but the following special catalogues of the printed books have been published: - the Tolstoi collection of early printerd Russian books have been published: - the Tolstoi collection of early printed Russian books, 1829; the Aldines, 1854; the Elzevirs, 1862, and another in 1864, by C.F. Walther; editions printed during the reign of Peter the Great, by Bytschkoff, 1867; the foreign books relating to Peter the Great by P. Minzloff, 1872; and the Russica, 2 vols. 1873. Lists of the foreign books have been issued since 1863, and the Comptes Rendus published since 1850 contain notices of the most important acquisitions.

The following catalogues of the MSS. are in the print: - the Tolstoi Slavonic collection, 1825; Dorn’s catalogue of the Oriental MSS., 1852; old German, 1853; the Greek, by Muralt, 1864; the Khanikoff Oriental codices, by Dorn, 1865, Russian MSS. on the history of Peter the Great, by Bytschkoff, 1872; the French, 1874; Samaritan, 1875; Hebrew Biblical 1875; Slavonic and Russian miscellaneous, parts 1 and 2, 1878-80.

The nucleus of the library at the Hermitage Palace was formed by the empress Catherine II., who purchased the books and MSS. of Voltaire and Diderot. In the year 1861 the collection amounted to 150,000 volumes, of which nearly all not relating to the history of art were then transferred to the Imperial Library.

The second largest library in Rusia is contained in the public museum at Moscow. The class of history is particularly rich, and Russian early printed books are well represented. The MSS. number 5000, including many ancient Sclavonic codices and historical documents of value. One room is devoted to a collection of Masonic MSS; which comprehend the archives of the lodges in Russia between 1816 and 1821. There is a general alphabetical catalogue in writing; the catalogue of the MSS. has been printed, as well as those of some of the special collections.

For other Russian libraries see the tables.

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