the published works and other documents collected by libraries for public use and made accessible through a system of catalogs and card files; also, one of the main divisions of library science.
Libraries were the first formed in response to the objective need of human society to accumulate, preserve, and disseminate the information contained in written works. In modern times, each country’s library collections taken as a whole represent the wealth of the country and serve as an indicator of the national level of education and culture. As of 1976, the libraries of the USSR contained 4.2 billion books. The collections of all Soviet libraries are steadily growing, but the increase is particularly rapid in the collections of popular libraries (as opposed to scientific and specialized libraries; see), rural libraries, and libraries in national regions that lacked a library system prior to the October Revolution.
There are three types of library collections—general, subject, and specialized—and these are divided into such categories as books, journals, newspapers, audiovisual materials, pictorial publications, sheet music, phonograph records, maps, and microfilms, depending upon the nature of the collection.
The decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU On Increasing the Role of Libraries in the Communist Upbringing of the Working People and in Scientific and Technological Progress (1974) has contributed to the centralization of the library system and to the consequent creation of large libraries possessing collections that can satisfy the increased demands of readers. A new statewide system of book storage aimed at improving organization and utilization of library collections was put into effect in the USSR in 1975. Under this system, books and publications that are rarely used are being transferred to special book depositories.