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a collection of books or other written or printed materials, as well as the facility in which they are housed and the institution that is responsible for their maintenance. Modern libraries may contain a wide range of materials, including manuscripts and pamphlets, posters, photographs, motion pictures, and videotapes, sound recordings, and computer databases in various forms.

The Modern Library

Modern libraries, in addition to providing patrons with access to books and other materials, often publish lists of accessions and may maintain a readers' advisory service. Interlibrary loan services, lecture series, public book reviews, and the maintenance of special juvenile collections are other important recent developments. Three systems of book classification are widely used to facilitate access to library collections: the Dewey decimal system of Melvil DeweyDewey, Melvil,
1851–1931, American library pioneer, originator of the Dewey decimal system, b. Adams Center, N.Y., grad. Amherst (B.A., 1874; M.A., 1877). A man of originality and of enormous energy, Dewey played an important role in the early days of library organization
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, the system of Charles Ammi CutterCutter, Charles Ammi,
1837–1903, American librarian, b. Boston. Cutter cataloged the library of the Harvard Divinity School and in 1860 was appointed as the assistant to the librarian of Harvard.
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, and the Library of Congress system (see catalogcatalog,
descriptive list, on cards or in a book, of the contents of a library. Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh was cataloged on shelves of slate. The first known subject catalog was compiled by Callimachus at the Alexandrian Library in the 3d cent. B.C.
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). Since the 1930s libraries have had several technological tools at their disposal, including microphotographic techniques for copying, computer data banks enabling the storage of far more information and the search of indexes and catalogs far more quickly than ever before, and computer networks that provide instant access to materials in libraries throughout the world and to the InternetInternet, the,
international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises (called gateways
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 and its increasingly rich resources. Books, newspapers, photographs, recordings, and other materials may also be digitized to make them available on computers and over the Internet. Digitization is especially useful in the case of older and rarer materials, which can be made more readily accessible to a wide range of scholars and the public through high quality copies.

Major university libraries in the United States must work to meet an enormous demand for research materials and spend nearly $5 million a year for books and related supplies such as binding materials. Preservation of pulp-based paper, which becomes brittle after a few decades, has become a major drain on library resources; many libraries will no longer acquire books that are not printed on acid-free paper. Such libraries typically have private endowments as well as receive federal and state support. Other libraries throughout the world operate on far smaller budgets, frequently with severe financial handicaps.

The architectural design of modern public libraries in the United States has placed the highest priority on functionalism. Outstanding examples of library construction include the central housing for collections in New York City (1911), Los Angeles (1926; major renovation 1993), Baltimore (1932), and San Francisco (1996) and university buildings at Columbia (1896; no longer a library) and Harvard (1915). Modern buildings tend toward modular construction and smaller, separate housing for special collections.

See also library schoollibrary school,
educational institution providing professional training for librarians (see also library). Librarians were trained by apprenticeship until the late 19th cent. The first school for training librarians was established by Melvil Dewey in 1887.
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The earliest known library was a collection of clay tablets in Babylonia in the 21st cent. B.C. Ancient Egyptian temple libraries are known through the Greek writers. Diodorus Siculus describes the library of Ramses III, c.1200 B.C. The extensively cataloged library of Assurbanipal (d. 626? B.C.) in Nineveh was the most noted before that at Alexandria. The temple at Jerusalem contained a sacred library. The first public library in Greece was established in 330 B.C., in order to preserve accurate examples of the work of the great dramatists. The most famous libraries of antiquity were those of AlexandriaAlexandria,
Arabic Al Iskandariyah, city (1996 pop. 3,328,196), N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is at the western extremity of the Nile River delta, situated on a narrow isthmus between the sea and Lake Mareotis (Maryut).
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, founded by Ptolemy I, which contained some 700,000 Greek scrolls. The library at PergamumPergamum
, ancient city of NW Asia Minor, in Mysia (modern Turkey), in the fertile valley of the Caicus. It became important c.300 B.C., after the breakup of the Macedonian empire, when a Greek family (the Attalids) established a brilliant center of Hellenistic civilization.
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, founded or expanded by Eumenes II, rivaled those at Alexandria.

The first Roman libraries were brought from Greece, Asia Minor, and Syria as a result of conquests in the 1st and 2d cent. B.C. Caius Asinius Pollio established (c.40 B.C.) the first public library in Rome, but the great public libraries of the Roman Empire were the Octavian (destroyed A.D. 80) and the Palatine (destroyed c.A.D. 190) and the more important Ulpian library, founded during the reign of Trajan. In addition to these public collections, there were many fine private libraries by the time the Roman Republic was ended in 27 B.C. Of these there remain only fragments of one at Herculaneum.

The early Christian libraries were in monasteries; the Benedictines amassed a fine collection at Monte Cassino. The Romans had brought book collections to the British Isles, but important early monastic libraries were founded in York, Wearmouth, Canterbury, and elsewhere in England and Ireland by Anglo-Saxon monks. Some of the finest manuscript illuminationillumination,
in art, decoration of manuscripts and books with colored, gilded pictures, often referred to as miniatures (see miniature painting); historiated and decorated initials; and ornamental border designs.
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 was produced in these libraries. On the Continent, St. Columban and other missionaries founded monastic libraries in the 6th cent. Most of the ancient Greek and Latin texts that have survived until modern times were preserved in medieval European monastery libraries.

The Arabs in the 9th to 15th cent. collected and preserved many libraries, and the Jews and the Byzantines also developed fine libraries during the medieval period. In the 14th and 15th cent. Charles V of France, Lorenzo de' Medici, and Frederick, duke of Urbino, all formed fine libraries; part of the Urbino library is now in the Vatican Library. In the 15th cent. the Vatican Library, the oldest public library in Europe, was formed. In 1475, Platina, as its first librarian, made a catalog that included 2,527 volumes. In 1257 the Sorbonne library at Paris was founded, and in 1525 the erection of the Laurentian Library in Florence, designed by Michelangelo, was begun. Many of the great university libraries (e.g., Bologna, Prague, Oxford, and Heidelberg) were opened in the 14th cent.

In the United States a circulating library, the Library Company of Philadelphia, was chartered in 1732 on the initiative of Benjamin Franklin. A public library had, however, been opened in Boston as early as 1653 (see Boston Public LibraryBoston Public Library,
founded in 1848, chiefly through the gift of Joshua Bates, and opened to the public in 1854. It is the oldest free public city library supported by taxation in the world and the first to allow its patrons to borrow books and other materials.
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). Other early subscription libraries included the Boston Athenæum, the New York Society Library, and the Charleston (S.C.) Library Society. In 1833 the first tax-supported library in the country opened at Peterborough, N.H. The American Library Association was formed in 1876, and this organization spurred improvements in library methods and in the training of librarians.

Libraries in the United States and Great Britain benefited greatly from the philanthropy of Andrew CarnegieCarnegie, Andrew
, 1835–1919, American industrialist and philanthropist, b. Dunfermline, Scotland. His father, a weaver, found it increasingly difficult to get work in Scottish factories and in 1848 brought his family to Allegheny (now Pittsburgh), Pa.
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, who gave more than $65 million for public library buildings in the United States alone and strengthened local interest by making the grants contingent upon public support. Among the innovations of the late 19th cent. were free public access to books (involving elaborate classification schemes) and branch libraries or deposit stations for books in many parts of cities; in the early 20th cent. traveling libraries, or "bookmobiles," began to take books to readers in rural or outlying areas. By the end of the 20th cent., the digital revolution had resulted in many resources being available to library patrons in electronic formats that could be accessed directly from home or work. In 2009, for example, the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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 (EU) launched a digital library containing tens of thousands of EU documents dating back nearly 60 years; materials in 23 languages were made available to the public free of charge.

Notable Libraries

Among the chief modern public and university libraries are the Bibliothèque nationaleBibliothèque nationale
, national library of France, in Paris, a government archive, and one of the foremost libraries of the world. It originated with the collections of writings made by early French kings, including Charlemagne.
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 and the Mazarine, Paris; the British MuseumBritish Museum,
the national repository in London for treasures in science and art. Located in the Bloomsbury section of the city, it has departments of antiquities, prints and drawings, coins and medals, and ethnography.
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, London; the Bodleian LibraryBodleian Library
, at the Univ. of Oxford. The original library, destroyed in the reign of Edward VI, was replaced in 1602, chiefly through the efforts of Sir Thomas Bodley, who gave it valuable collections of books and manuscripts and in his will left a fund for maintenance.
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, Oxford; the Vatican LibraryVatican Library
or Vatican Apostolic Library,
in Rome, founded in the 4th cent. but dormant until given new life in the 15th cent. by Pope Nicholas V. It is the oldest public library in Europe and one of the chief libraries of the world.
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, Rome; the Ambrosian LibraryAmbrosian Library,
Milan, Italy; founded c.1605 by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. Named for Milan's patron saint, it was one of the first libraries to be open to the public.
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, Milan; the Laurentian Library, Florence; the Russian State Library, Moscow; the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (see under Huntington, Henry EdwardsHuntington, Henry Edwards,
1850–1927, American financier, b. Oneonta, N.Y. He was prominent in railroad and other enterprises. Until the death of his uncle, Collis P. Huntington, the two were business associates. His estate at San Marino, near Pasadena, Calif.
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); the Library of CongressLibrary of Congress,
national library of the United States, Washington, D.C., est. 1800. It occcupies three buildings on Capitol Hill: The Thomas Jefferson Building (1897), the John Adams Building (1938), and the James Madison Building (1981).
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, Washington, D.C.; the New York Public LibraryNew York Public Library,
free library supported by private endowments and gifts and by the city and state of New York. It is the one of largest libraries in the world. The library was created by a 1895 law consolidating older reference libraries established by bequests of John
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; the libraries of Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and other major American universities; and the Newbery and John Crerar libraries in Chicago.

There are several sorts of libraries in the United States and elsewhere that exist apart from the public and university systems. Three major categories of these are private libraries, usually housing special collections, e.g., the Pierpont Morgan LibraryPierpont Morgan Library,
originally the private library of J. Pierpont Morgan, in 1924 made a public institution by his son J. P. Morgan as a memorial to his father (see Morgan, family). The library is privately supported; it is located at Madison Ave. and 36th St.
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 in New York City of rare books in the humanities and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. (see under Folger, Henry ClayFolger, Henry Clay
, 1857–1930, American industrialist and collector of Shakespeareana. His connection with Standard Oil companies, beginning in 1879, continued until his retirement 49 years later as chairman of the board of the New York company.
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); presidential libraries, which contain the papers of past presidents not held in the Library of Congress, e.g., the Jimmy Carter Library, Atlanta, Ga., the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kans., the Gerald R. Ford Library, Ann Arbor, Mich., the Rutherford B. Hayes Library, Fremont, Ohio, the Herbert Hoover Library, West Branch, Iowa, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library at the Univ. of Texas, Austin, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y., and the Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Mo.; and industrial libraries formed by many corporations to house research works relevant to their business.


The classic works on the history of libraries are E. Edwards's Memoirs of Libraries (2 vol., 1859, repr. 1964) and Libraries and Founders of Libraries (1865, repr. 1968). See also E. A. Savage, The Story of Libraries and Book-Collecting (1909, repr. 1969); T. Eaton, ed., Contributions to American Library History (1962); R. Irwin, Origins of the English Library (1958, repr. 1981); K. Schottenloher, Books and the Western World (1989); M. H. Harris, History of Libraries in the Western World (4th ed. 1995); L. Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (2001); M. Battles, Library: An Unquiet History (2003); J. W. P. Campbell, The Library: A World History (2013); see also World Guide to Libraries PLUS (annual on CD-ROM) and American Library Directory (annual and online).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


A repository for literature and artistic materials such as books, kept for reading or reference by the public. Libraries have been in existence since around 200 B.C. and were evident in Colonial America. Andrew Carnegie stimulated development through his funding of 1,649 public library buildings in 1,412 communities as well as 108 academic library buildings (1897–1917).
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a cultural, educational, and scientific auxiliary institution that organizes the public use of published works.

Libraries are systematically concerned with the collection, storage, popularization, and circulation of published works to readers, as well as with informational and bibliographical work. Soviet libraries give multifaceted aid to the Communist Party and the government in solving political, economic, scientific, and cultural problems, and they facilitate the mobilization of the working masses in carrying out these solutions. Since they are generally accessible sources of knowledge and a major base for self-education, Soviet libraries actively guide reading for communist education and the raising of the cultural level of the masses. The socialist state assists in a planned development of libraries that is designed to satisfy the growing intellectual requirements of society.

Depending upon their purpose, the composition of their book collections, and their work methods, libraries may be divided into two basic types—popular and scientific and specialized libraries. The basic characteristics of Soviet popular libraries are the selection and promotion among a broad range of readers of literature that facilitates the mastery of Marxist-Leninist theory and political, occupational, and general educational knowledge; activity oriented toward all groups of readers; and use of the most active and effective methods for propaganda of books and guidance of reading. Popular libraries include municipal and rural libraries in the system of the Ministry of Culture, trade-union libraries at enterprises, libraries of clubs and houses of culture, and so forth. Scientific and specialized libraries basically serve scholars and specialists in various branches of learning, the national economy, and culture. They also meet the requirements of higher and secondary institutions of learning. Soviet scientific libraries are characterized by extensive use of world literature in assisting scientific and technical progress, active informational, bibliographical, and scientific research work, service to readers that is differentiated according to readers’ specialties, various types of aid to popular libraries, participation in the propaganda of the achievements of science and technology among a broad range of readers, and publishing activity. Such scientific libraries include the major state, academic, university, and special research libraries. Specialized libraries include technical libraries and libraries attached to enterprises, scientific research institutes, institutions of higher learning, and so forth.

According to the composition of their collections, libraries are classified as universal, multisubject, and special research libraries. The principal trends in the operation of any library are the acquisition and organization of the book collection and service to readers. The acquisition of library collections consists of the systematic discovery by the examination of bibliographical sources and literature of publications needed for a given library and the procuring of these publications. New domestic literature is obtained by the library through library supply agencies. (In 1970 there were 150 of these throughout the country.) In addition to this, the major scientific libraries have the right to receive free of charge or through purchase a complete (or partial) mandatory copy of published works. They also have special funds for purchasing books within the country and abroad. To a considerable degree the level of service to readers depends on the timeliness and completeness of library acquisitions.

The organization of the book collection includes problems of registering, distributing, and storing literature, as well as making it available to the reader. The correct organization of the collection facilitates the reader’s use of literature and helps the librarian to fulfill quickly readers’ requests. It also guarantees the preservation of the collections as public property.

A library’s service to readers is carried out in numerous ways: circulation of literature both in the reading rooms and outside of the library building; assistance to individual readers and institutions in the selection of literature that they need; disclosure of the library’s book collections by means of systematic library catalogs; compilation of informational and bibliographical aids of various types; the propagandizing of the most valuable literature; reproduction of texts upon request from readers; and so forth.

Under the conditions of modern scientific and technical progress, library work has become increasingly complex. The colossal growth of publishing has presented libraries with the problems of selecting, processing, and effectively storing huge masses of printed publications, using machines to search for needed publications, and furnishing readers with publications as quickly as possible. With the sharp increase in the number of scholars and specialists as well as the rise in the level of education of the entire population, readers’ demand for scholarly literature and the need for effective bibliographical information about it have grown. The solution of these problems has led to the founding of new branches and specialized divisions in libraries. (For example, in 1955 divisions of patent and technical literature were organized in oblast libraries of the USSR, and in 1965, departments to serve agricultural workers.)

Changes in the conditions of library work constantly require changes in the former extremely labor-consuming method of registering and processing literature with the aid of traditional library techniques (inventory books, catalog cards, and so forth) by the mechanization and automation of these processes and the use in working with books of the methods of information theory that are adaptable for libraries. At the end of the 1950’s and 1960’s the level of the technical equipment of libraries had risen considerably. The introduction of mechanization and automation into library work includes the use of modern techniques for mechanization of specific intralibrary processes (for example, in major libraries the transportation of large quantities of literature is done with the aid of conveyors and elevators); use of modern methods of communication to strengthen interlibrary cooperation (especially in the joint use of collections); use of the most recent technology (including computers) to automate bibliographical searches and cataloging; and use of modern methods for reproducing texts. There has also been a change in traditional library equipment (bookshelves, catalog cabinets, equipment in reading rooms and work spaces for librarians, and so forth). Modern library equipment will ensure more economical use of space for book storage and an increase in the work productivity of the librarians, and it will facilitate readers’ work on literature, as well as answer the requirements of industrial aesthetics. (Concerning the changes in library architecture, see the section on library buildings.)

There is an urgent need in library work for the creation of a system of overall mechanization and automation that would encompass all library processes, as well as for the further modernization of equipment. Modern technology, which frees librarians from petty and labor-consuming manual operations, will allow them to pay more attention to cultural and educational work with readers, which is actually the essence of library work. In connection with this one must consider groundless the statements that have recently been made in the West on the inevitability of the replacement of libraries by data search systems and the gradual disappearance of libraries. In fact, technology cannot deprive a library of its basic functions as an ideological institution. On the contrary, technology assists in the improved accomplishment of these functions.

Historical sketch. Libraries as public repositories of written works originated in early antiquity. There was a large collection of clay tablets at the court of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in Nineveh in the middle of the seventh century B.C. In ancient Egypt there were libraries attached to temples. These libraries served the priests. The founding of the first major library in ancient Greece is attributed to Aristotle (4th century B.C.). The most famous of the ancient libraries were the library at Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy and including as many as 700,000 holdings by the first century A.D. , and the library at Pergamum, founded in the third century B.C. and possessing approximately 200,000 manuscript books by the middle of the first century B.C Beginning in the first century A.D. in ancient Rome there was a custom of establishing so-called public libraries attached to temples. (By the fifth century there were about 30 such libraries in Rome.) The libraries of ancient Greece and Rome were accessible to an extremely small circle of religious officials and educated slaveholders.

During the period of the early Middle Ages in Western Europe, when religious ideology was predominant, there were usually libraries at large monasteries and cathedrals. In connection with the general growth of culture and especially the invention of book printing during the Renaissance (15th—16th centuries), the number of libraries increased. University libraries began to grow rapidly (for example, at the Sorbonne, the universities of Prague and Heidelberg, and others). A number of famous libraries that exist today were founded by large secular and ecclesiastical feudal lords (the Laurentian Library in Florence, founded by Cosimo de’ Medici; the Vatican Library; and the Royal Library in Paris). However, at that time libraries were primarily places for the preservation of rarities, and their activity was mainly directed toward protecting their collected manuscripts and books from visitors. (The custom of chaining the books to the reading desks reflected the attitude of the libraries toward their readers.)

In many countries during the 17th and 18th centuries libraries were founded that later attained national and, some of them, even international importance (the Bodleian Library at Oxford, 1602; the Royal Library in Berlin, 1661; the British Museum Library in London, 1753). In 1627 the French librarian G. Naudé published his book Advice on the Formation of a Library, in which he gave recommendations on organizing a book collection and also presented the idea of the need to make libraries accessible to scholars. The German scholar Leibniz first stated the basic principle of the obligatory, systematic acquisition of new literature by libraries. Libraries appeared that were genuinely open to those who wanted to use them. (For example, the Mazarin Library, founded in 1643 in Paris, was open to everybody twice a week.) Radical and extremely progressive measures in developing libraries that were undertaken in France at the time of the Revolution at the end of the 18th century included the confiscation of the wealth of books belonging to the monasteries and emigre aristocrats and their transfer to the National Library (formerly the Royal Library). In the provinces, municipal libraries were established.

The process of founding major national and university libraries continued even in the 19th century. At that time the Library of Congress of the USA in Washington, D.C. (1800), the Ferenc Széchényi Library attached to the Hungarian National Museum (1802), the Royal Library in Brussels (1837), and a number of other libraries were founded. The large national and university libraries were very important for the work of scholars (the role of the British Museum Library in the work of Marx is universally known), as well as for the development of library science. A. Panizzi, who reformed the British Museum Library in the 1840’s and 1850’s, worked out rules for keeping a library catalog and principles of acquisition for a universal library and principles for the disposition of its collections.

The more rapid organization of libraries, especially popular libraries, began in the second half of the 19th century, when, in connection with the development of capitalism, the need for a qualified work force increased, and both scientific and technical progress became more rapid. By the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century well-developed networks of public (popular) libraries had been founded in Great Britain, Switzerland, and the USA. However, even at the present time in a number of capitalist countries rural areas and city districts populated by the poor remain without library service. Public libraries are often deprived of necessary funds.

Bourgeois library scientists usually assert that libraries are nonpolitical. In fact, by the composition of their book collections, catalogs, and their publicizing of books, libraries in capitalist countries make their readers, in the words of N. K. Krupskaia, “servants of the bourgeoisie, not from fear but from conscience” (On Library Work, Moscow, 1957, p. 136). Nevertheless, in the library work of capitalist countries progressive tendencies directed at the democratization of libraries and their more active use in the interests of broad sections of the population have developed.

At the present time, because of the sharply increasing flood of printed information, the large scholarly libraries in capitalist states are striving for a more extensive implementation of coordination and cooperation in acquiring foreign literature. (The Farmington Plan in the USA and the Scandia Plan in the Scandinavian countries are examples of this trend.) They are organizing a joint storage of collections, using union catalogs and interlibrary loans in order to obtain necessary publications from other libraries, and using computers to compile catalogs.

The largest libraries in the world are the Lenin State Library of the USSR in Moscow, the Library of Congress of the USA in Washington, D. C, the Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library in Leningrad, and the British Museum Library. There are rich collections in the national libraries of the socialist countries (see below), France (the National Library i n Paris), Japan (the National Diet Library in Tokyo), Sweden (the Royal Library in Stockholm), Austria (the National Library in Vienna), and in the Vatican Library, as well as in university libraries in the USA, Great Britain, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, and other countries.

In the developing countries colonialism and imperialism have left a heritage of economic and cultural backwardness, as well as mass illiteracy. Although a few developing countries have large national and university libraries, the great majority of the population is deprived of library service. According to UNESCO data for 1965 there were in 52 states and administrative units in Africa only 4,739 libraries, whereas in 31 European countries there were 258,171 libraries. In some of the developing countries (for example, in India, Ceylon, Egypt, and others) the governments are promoting the construction of new libraries and the extension of previously existing ones; however, the increase in the number of libraries is proceeding slowly because of lack of funds, qualified personnel, and literature, as well as because of the illiteracy of a considerable part of the population. Assistance in the establishment of libraries in these states is being provided by UNESCO. With its participation a model public library in Delhi (India) and a school library in Lagos (Nigeria) were built, and a number of other projects for the development of libraries in Asian, African, and Latin American countries were carried out.

Libraries in Russia. The first library in ancient Rus’ that is known to historians was founded in 1037 by Yaroslav the Wise at the Sofia Cathedral in Kiev. During the 11th and 12th centuries libraries were founded at monasteries and cathedrals in Novgorod, Chernigov, and Vladimir. In the 15th through 17th centuries the Patriarchal Library, libraries of the Foreign Office and the Dispensary Office, palace libraries, and private book collections of the great boyars were founded in Moscow. The libraries of the Troitse-Sergievo, Solovetsk, and Belozersk monasteries became larger. Such monastery libraries preserved valuable individual landmarks of Russian literature, but basically their collections consisted of books with a religious content. At the beginning of the 18th century, in connection with the Petrine reforms in Russia, libraries with collections of secular and scientific literature began to be founded. In 1714 under an edict of Peter I the Great a large collection of books was established in St. Petersburg. In 1725 this collection was transferred to the Academy of Sciences and made up the nucleus of the academic library. In 1755 the scientific library of Moscow University was founded. At the end of the 18th century commercial public libraries and the free reading library of N. I. Novikov in Moscow were founded. The Public Library in St. Petersburg (now the Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library in Leningrad) was established in 1795 and opened in 1814. It became the largest library in prerevolutionary Russia. There was an increase in the number of university libraries, in whose work many scholars took an active part (for example, N. I. Lobachevski, who was director of the library of the University of Kazan from 1825 to 1835). During the 1830’s and 1840’s public libraries were founded in provincial and district cities. The representatives of progressive social thought highly valued the importance of libraries for educating the people. The tsarist police and censorship hindered in every way the establishment of public libraries. During the years of political reaction at the end of the 1840’s, 15 provincial and district libraries were closed.

With the upswing in the social movement in Russia during the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the number of libraries began to grow rapidly. At the end of the 1850’s and the beginning of the 1860’s new libraries were founded and the activity of many previously closed provincial and district public libraries was revived. In 1862 the Rumiantsev Museum Library in Moscow (now the Lenin State Library of the USSR) was opened. During the 1870’s illegal workers’ libraries were organized (in 1875—in connection with the Southern Russian Union of Workers; in 1878—in connection with the Northern Union of Russian Workers; here the librarian was the revolutionary worker S. Khalturin). A library of Marxist and illegal literature existed from 1894 to 1895 in association with the St. Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class, which was founded by V. I. Lenin. Later, Lenin and the RSDLP (Bolshevik) fought for the democratization of library work in Russia and the creation of party libraries, of which the most famous was the Geneva library of the RSDLP (1904–06) and the library of G. A. Kuklin (after 1907). Lenin, who was well acquainted with many libraries in Russia and Western Europe, attentively followed the development of library work. He regarded libraries as social institutions, and even before the Revolution he put forth the demand that they be made accessible to the masses (see V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23, p. 348).

At the end of the 19th century various associations of librarians began to be founded in Russia. The Society of Library Science, founded in 1908, published the journal Bibliotekar’, (Librarian; edited by P. N. Bogdanov) during 1910–15. In 1911, the All-Russian Library Congress was held. In 1913, on the initiative of L. B. Khavkina, library courses were organized in Moscow at the Shaniavskii People’s University. However, on the whole, the status of library work in Russia was not at a very high level. By 1914 for a population of 160 million there were 76,000 libraries, of which a considerable number were seminary school libraries. The public libraries and their collections were under the control of the police and the censors, and the activity of the major libraries was of a closed character. The peoples of Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, and a number of other national regions were completely deprived of library service.

Libraries in the USSR. The Great October Socialist Revolution and the cultural revolution that occurred during the succeeding years radically changed the status of libraries and their role in the life of the country. Beginning in the first days of Soviet power, Lenin paid great attention to the work of libraries. His numerous statements and articles concerning problems of library work are well known. Lenin signed the decrees “On the Organization of Library Work” (1918), “On the Preservation of Libraries and Book Repositories of the RSFSR” (1918), and others. On Nov. 3, 1920, Lenin signed the decree “On the Centralization of Library Work in the RSFSR,” which envisioned the creation in the country of a unified library network, the general accessibility of libraries, and a rationally planned supply of libraries with new literature. Despite difficulties caused by the Civil War and foreign intervention, the Soviet government guaranteed not only the preservation of previously existing libraries but also the creation of a large number of new ones. The activization of library work was facilitated by the decree of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) “On Strengthening Party Influence on Library Work” (1923). In 1923 the journal Krasnyi bibliotekar’ (Red Librarian) began to be published. (Since 1946 it has been named Bibliotekar’.) In 1924 the First Library Congress of the RSFSR and the First Conference of Scientific Libraries of the RSFSR were held. On the basis of the decree of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) “On Rural Libraries and Popular Literature for Supplying Libraries” (1925) active measures were adopted to improve the work of village libraries and reading cottages, which played an important role in mass political work in the countryside. At the end of the 1920’s a rapid development of a network of technical libraries began, sovkhoz libraries were founded, and state public and scientific libraries were enlarged. In carrying out the decree of the Central Committee of the VCP (Bolshevik) dated Oct. 30, 1929, “On Improving Library Work,” Soviet libraries actively aided the Party in solving the problems of socialist industrialization, collectivization of agriculture, and raising the cultural level of the masses. During the 1920’s and 1930’s state republic libraries were established in the capitals of the union republics, which did not have national libraries before the Revolution. The systematic training of highly qualified librarians and bibliographers began in 1930 with the opening of the Moscow Library Institute.

On Mar. 27, 1934, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR adopted the decree “On Library Work in the USSR,” which was important for the subsequent development of Soviet libraries. It improved the system of directing libraries and supplying them with literature and the training of library staffs. On Oct. 1,1934, the AH-Union Library Inventory was completed. In 1936 the All-Union Conference on Theoretical Problems of Library Science and Bibliography, which shared experiences in library construction in the USSR, was held.

Of great importance for the development of libraries during the first 20 years of Soviet power was daily guidance in this field by N. K. Krupskaia. Also actively participating in building up libraries were such prominent Party leaders as A. V. Lunacharskii, M. N. Pokrovskii, F. N. Petrov, and V. I. Nevskii. On the eve of the Great Patriotic War the Soviet Union possessed an extensive branch network of all types of libraries. Libraries had become an important part of the Soviet system of education, science, and culture.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) library work was subordinated to the interests of defending the country. Libraries published reference and bibliographical aids on military and technical topics to aid industry, and they carried on extensive propaganda of military and patriotic literature. In the territory temporarily occupied by Hitler’s forces, 43,000 popular libraries, 82,000 school libraries, and 334 libraries of institutions of higher learning were either completely or partially destroyed. Thanks to extraordinary measures (such as the creation in 1943 of the State Fund for Literature), the network of popular libraries was rapidly restored; by 1950 their number exceeded the prewar number by 12 percent.

The postwar period was characterized by the rapid growth of the library network, especially in the countryside (between 1953 and 1963 more than 32,000 state village libraries were established); the increase of book collections; the technical and material equipping of libraries; and various forms of popular work. There was an increase in aid to libraries from trade unions and other public organizations and kolkhozes. (In 1967 trade unions had 30,000 libraries; kolkhozes, about 5,000.) Between 1960 and 1967, 7,500 libraries were founded, operating entirely on public bases.

Of special importance for the development of Soviet libraries was the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU dated Sept. 22, 1959, “On the Status and Measures for Improving Library Work in the Country.” This decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU set forth the goal of “achieving the transformation of libraries into genuine centers for mass propaganda of political, general educational, scientific and technical, agricultural, and occupational knowledge and into strong points of Party organizations in the Communist education of the toiling masses.” This decree provided for the regulation of the network of libraries, extension of the production of library equipment, and improvement of library acquisitions and the material conditions of library work. During the following eight years approximately 15,000 libraries obtained new buildings. In the Ministry of Culture of the USSR the Main Office of Library Inspection was organized, which carries out methodological guidance and coordination of the activity of all Soviet libraries. Councils on the problems of library work have been established at the Ministry of Culture of the USSR and the ministries of culture of the union and autonomous republics. In order to solve certain problems connected with questions of scientific-technical information, the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Science and Technology has activated the Interdepartmental Commission to Coordinate the Activities of Specialized, Scientific, and Technical Libraries.

By the end of 1968, Soviet libraries (except school libraries) were being used by more than 120 million readers. Individual work with readers at popular libraries is conducted by considering the interests, age, education, and occupation of each of them. Also used are such methods as interviews on materials read, the working out of individual reading plans, selection of literature with an increasing level of difficulty, and individual information to readers about new items on a specific topic. The open-stack method, which allows readers access to the bookshelves, has been widely adopted. Mass measures include book and illustration exhibits, literary evenings and discussions, meetings with authors, oral bibliographical surveys, and differentiated service to readers of specific groups (for example, the supplying of literature to workers at their places of work in factories). The personnel of the Soviet Army and Navy are served by a broad network of military libraries. A great deal of work with children and teen-agers is carried out by an extensive network of municipal and district children’s libraries, which are extracurricular educational institutions, by the children’s divisions of popular libraries for adults, and by school libraries.

The activity of libraries in the field of bibliography has also grown. Popular libraries compile lists of publications on a specific topic for readers and propagandize indexes of recommendations and other bibliographical aids. Scientific libraries prepare bibliographical indexes of recommendations, compose answers to readers’ bibliographical inquiries, and publish the union list of the most important bibliographical aids, Information Index of Bibliographical Lists and Cards, Compiled by Libraries of the Soviet Union. They also publish scientific auxiliary bibliographical works that encompass as fully as possible all domestic and some foreign literature on a specific topic and for a specific period (for example, The Union Catalog of Russian Books in Russian Print of the 18th Century: 1725–1800, 1962–67, which was compiled by the five largest libraries in the country). Regional studies bibliography is being developed by republic, oblast, and krai libraries.

In accordance with the decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR “On the General State System of Scientific-Technical Information” (Nov. 29, 1966), scientific and specialized libraries have become an important part of the entire system of scientific-technical information in the country. As distinguished from informational centers, which collect, analyze, and process all kinds of documentation in order to obtain the factual information on the essence of specific problems, libraries deal only with printed works. The informational bibliographical work of libraries allows the reader to obtain information on what publications contain materials of interest to him. Because of the rapid growth in the number of scientific publications, the completeness and operativeness of the bibliographical reflection of materials received by the libraries acquires great significance. The participation of libraries in the system of scientific-technical information has presented them with a number of problems, including the coordination of their own activity with the work of informational centers, work with special types of technical publications, and use of modern techniques for processing and finding printed information. In certain cases the collections of branch libraries form the literary and bibliographical base of an entire system of scientific-technical information in a given field.

The successful activity of Soviet libraries, their democratism, and their broadly based, varied educational work, which has promoted the growth of the cultural level and occupational education of masses of readers, has had an influence on the development of library work beyond the borders of the USSR. The international ties of Soviet libraries have been developed. Since 1959, Soviet libraries have actively participated in the work of the International Federation of Library Associations, and they have also cooperated with the Department of Documentation, Libraries, and Archives of UNESCO. Especially close ties have been established with libraries in other socialist countries .

Libraries in other socialist countries. Extensive library networks were developed in all socialist countries after the establishment of popular power. Libraries have played a great

Table 1. Development of the library network of the USSR
All libraries76,000277,000347,000
  Books and journals46,000,000527,000,0002,588,000,000
 Popular libraries14,00095,000125,000
  Books and journals9,000,000185,000,0001,198,000,000
 School and children’s home libraries59,000164,000171,000
  Books and journals22,000,00068,000,000385,000,000
 Technical and other specialized libraries3,00018,00051,000
  Books and journals15,000,000174,000,0001,005,000,000

role in the socialist education of the toiling masses and youth, as well as in the economic and technical development of these states. Despite important differences in the levels of cultural development and the historically formed traditions of library work, there are certain common traits that characterize the status of libraries in socialist countries. These traits include the general accessibility of libraries, state support, planned development, the socialist character of library work, and the close ties of the libraries with the activity of Communist and workers’ parties in the field of ideology.

There are many different kinds of libraries in the socialist countries. In Bulgaria in the mid-1960’s there were about 9,000 libraries; in Czechoslovakia, 41,000; in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), 17,000; in Hungary, 20,000; in Poland, 48,500; in Rumania, 12,500; in Yugoslavia, more than 15,000; in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), more than 23,000 libraries and the so-called book cabinets (libraries based on public principles); and in the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR), about 400 libraries.

A great influence on the development of scientific methodological work and bibliography in these countries has been exercised by their national libraries (holdings are given according to 1968 data): in Albania, the National Library in Tirana (founded in 1922; 450,000 volumes); in Bulgaria, the Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia (founded in 1878; more than 1.1 million items); in the Chinese People’s Republic, the National Library in Peking (founded in 1912; 4.4 million items); in Czechoslovakia, the State Library of the Czech Socialist Republic in Prague (founded in 1958; 3.9 million items, including the national and university libraries) and the Slovak National Library in Martin (founded in 1863; more than 600,000 holdings); in the GDR, the German Library in Leipzig (founded in 1912; 3.3 million items) and the German State Library in Berlin (founded in 1661; more than 2.8 million items); in Hungary, the Ferenc Széchényi State Library in Budapest (founded in 1802; more than 5 million items); in the MPR, the State Public Library in Ulan-Bator (founded in 1921; 2 million items); in Poland, the National Library in Warsaw (founded in 1928; more than 2 million items); in Rumania, the Central State Library in Bucharest (founded in 1955; more than 4 million items); and in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the National Library in Hanoi (founded in 1919; 1.3 million items). In Yugoslavia each socialist republic has its own national library, the largest of which are the National Library of Serbia in Belgrade (founded in 1832; more than 500,000 holdings), the National and University Library of Croatia in Zagreb (founded in 1874; more than 800,000 holdings), and the National and University Library of Slovenia in Ljubljana (founded in 1774; 700,000 holdings).

The popular libraries of the socialist countries do a great deal of work in propagandizing books. The major scientific libraries are more and more frequently turning to sociological investigations of readers’ interests. Coordination and exchange of experience continue to develop among the libraries of the socialist countries.


Lenin i bibliotechnoe delo. Moscow, 1969.
Lenin i kniga. Moscow, 1964.
Krupskaia, N. K. Chto pisal i govoril Lenin o bibliotekakh, 5th ed. Moscow, 1956.
Krupskaia, N. K. O bibliotechnom dele. Moscow, 1957.
Materialy k istorii bibliotechnogo dela v SSSR (1917–1959 gg.). Leningrad, 1960.
Rukovodiashchie materialy po bibliotechnomu delu: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1968.
Biblioteki SSSR: K 50-letuu Velikogo Oktiabria, issue 36. Moscow, 1967.
Biblioteki SSSR: Spravochnik: Estestvennye i fiziko-matematicheskie nauki. Leningrad, 1967.
Biblioteki RSFSR (bez Moskvy i Leningrada): Spravochnik. Moscow, 1964.
Biblioteki Moskvy: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1967.
Biblioteki Leningrada: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1964.
Slukhovskii, M. I. Bibliotechnoe delo v Rossii do XVIII v. Moscow, 1968.
Abramov, K. I., and V. E. VasiPchenko. Istoriia bibliotechnogo dela v SSSR (do 1917). Moscow, 1959.
Vasil’chenko, V. E. Istoriia bibliotechnogo dela v SSSR. Moscow, 1958.
Iz istorii nelegal’nykh bibliotek revoliutsionnykh organizatsii v tsarskoi Rossii: Sbornik materialov. Moscow, 1956.
Bibliotechnoe delo v zarubezhnykh stranakh. Moscow, 1965.
Esdaile, Arundell. National Libraries of the World: Their History, Administration, and Public Services. Edited by F. I. Hill. London, 1957.
Masson, A., and P. Salvan. Les bibliotheques [2nded.]. Paris, 1963. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook: Annuaire Statistique 1966. Paris, 1968.
Library buildings. Storage places for works of written literature originated far back in antiquity. Clay tablets in the countries of the Near East and papyrus scrolls in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece were kept in areas with special cell-like shelves (the Alexandria Library). Libraries for ordinary books appeared in Europe in the 12th—13th centuries, at first in connection with monasteries (as separate areas without any specific architectural appearance) and later in connection with palaces (the Escorial Library near Madrid, 1523). From the 14th to 15th centuries independent library buildings that still had a severe monastery-like or formal palatial appearance were established. At first, books were kept on reading desks (the Laurentian Library in Florence, 1524; architect, Michelangelo). Later, they were kept on bookshelves along the walls, which were accessible through suspended balconies of two or three tiers (the library at a castle in Mannheim, now in the FRG, 1720–29).
The growth of the social importance of libraries and the increase in the number of readers facilitated the appearance of enlarged reading rooms, often round, with multitiered bookshelves and balconies located along the walls (the British Museum Library in London, 1854–57). This was reflected in the architectural appearance of the buildings; the reading room appeared in the composition of the facade, and it became the center of the building (the libraries in Boston, Detroit, and Cleveland, all located in the USA and built during the second half of the 19th century). With the accumulation of books in libraries there appeared separate specialized areas such as the stacks, which were located next to the reading rooms or under them. This also affected the architectural and artistic composition of the building (the New York Public Library). The subsequent growth of library collections led to the creation of a special type of tower book stacks (the Lenin Library of the USSR in Moscow and others). The interiors of modern libraries are designed as unified, well-lighted spaces in which the basic areas (the circulation desk, reading rooms, catalogs, reference card files, and others) are separated from each other by openly placed equipment—bookshelves, glass display cases, or rearrangeable and movable soundproof or glassed-in partitions and shield screens. Equipment that is suspended or that is built into the walls is being extensively used. Light-colored furniture and floors covered with colored plastic make the reading rooms attractive (the All-Union Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow and others). In order to create greater conveniences and bring the book stacks closer to the reading areas, large and medium-sized libraries are designed as low-storied buildings to permit the free shifting of sections. The lower floors are usually occupied by the basic book stacks, compartments of which correspond to the specialized sections that are located above them. Modern library buildings are distinguished by an extreme simplicity and unity of treatment of all facades (the Yale University Library in New Haven, USA, 1963; the Scientific-Technical Library of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Novosibirsk, 1965). In the USSR popular libraries are constructed according to standardized plans.


Pashchenko, F. N. Arkhitektura i stroitel’stvo bibliotechnykh zdanii. Moscow, 1941.
Pashchenko, F. N. “O novoykh putiakh organizatsii i oborudovaniia knigokhranilishch.” In the collection Biblioteki SSSR, issue 12. Moscow, 1959. Pages 199–234.
Mevissen, W. Büchereibau. Essen, 1958.
Thompson, A. Library Buildings of Britain and Europe. London, 1963.
Metcalf, K. D. Planning Academic and Research Library Buildings. New York [a.o.], 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a library?

Libraries in a dream suggest the search for knowledge and the hunger for ideas. It may be time for the dreamer to seek out new meanings in life.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A computerized facility containing a collection of organized information used for reference.
An organized collection of computer programs together with the associated program listings, documentation, users' directions, decks, and tapes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A place for maintaining a permanent collection of books for public or private use; in a home, usually consists of a single room, but in a public or private facility, may occupy an entire building.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Computing a collection of standard programs and subroutines for immediate use, usually stored on disk or some other storage device
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(programming, library)
A collection of subroutines and functions stored in one or more files, usually in compiled form, for linking with other programs. Libraries are one of the earliest forms of organised code reuse. They are often supplied by the operating system or software development environment developer to be used in many different programs. The routines in a library may be general purpose or designed for some specific function such as three dimensional animated graphics.

Libraries are linked with the user's program to form a complete executable. The linking may be static linking or, in some systems, dynamic linking.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See Windows Libraries.

(2) Any electronic collection of files or links to files. For example, the Library in Apple's iTunes software includes music, movies, TV shows, books, apps, ringtones and Internet radio links.

(3) A collection of software routines that programmers incorporate into their applications. The library routines are linked into the program when it is compiled. See class library.

(4) In the Unix/Linux world, an executable software module that augments the operating system's functionality. The equivalent in the Windows world is called a "dynamic link library" (see DLL).

(5) A collection of offline program or data files on disk or tape. See data library.

(6) A device that manages multiple storage modules and provides one or more drives for reading and writing them. See tape library, disk library and optical disc library.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.


You may be trying to assimilate some new information or idea. A library is a place of learning and is generally a good dream image. It suggests that you may be close to solving a problem or discovering something new and exciting.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The ramp choreographs changing perspectives through the interior, and the arrangement of book stacks on the perimeter contrives to open up the space vertically, so that the building becomes, in effect, an inhabited ramp.
This enabled him to provide ease of navigation along the length of the spiralling book stacks, while also giving opportunity for more accidental forms of wandering via a series of radial axes that fan out from the central control point on the first floor.
It's hard to believe that being stuck between book stacks all day is really worse than tackling yobs or fending for yourself in front of a classroom full of primary school children with attention deficit disorder.
Numerous book stacks, a fifth-floor addition, and a mechanical penthouse would create significantly greater loads.
One of our favorite stunts, back in the days when undergraduates had limited access to the book stacks in the university library, was to fill out a locator card for a book with one of our phony names.
The book stacks in the old Eugene Public Library are gone, replaced by work stations for engineers.
The extensive renovation will include a children's library complete with new lights, book stacks, counter and furniture.
After doing so, I measured the book stacks to determine the frame size.
Your students' book stacks should be flat and equal in height.
Peter's, two feet smaller than that of the Pantheon) with multilevel cast-iron book stacks; this advance was obsolete by 1920, when an attempt to add to the stacks strained the structure.