Library Science

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Library Science


a branch of science in which the purposes, principles, content, system, and forms of the public use of books are studied. The basic divisions of library science are general library science, in which problems of the organization of the public use of books are considered (including the place and role of the library in society, principles of the organization of library service, and principles of constructing a network of libraries and their typification); library collections (problems of acquisition, organization, and storage of library collections); library catalogs (the description and classification of published works and methods for compiling catalogs); work with readers (a system of serving readers in the library and forms and methods of working with them, guiding their reading, raising the cultural level of their reading, inculcating habits of reading for self-education, and studying the interests and requests of readers); organization of library work (organization and rating of library work, the accounting and planning of library activity, construction and equipment of library buildings, mechanization and automation of library procedures, and others); and history of library service, in which the content, forms, methods, and organization of the public use of books under conditions of various socioeconomic structures are studied.

The methodological fundamentals and problems of library science are determined at each historical stage by the socioeconomic conditions and ideology that dominate under a given social structure. At the basis of socialist library science is the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the objective laws for the development of society and V. I. Lenin’s doctrine concerning the cultural revolution and communist education. This has determined the formation of socialist library science as a branch of science, whose basic task is the study of the patterns of development of library procedure as a social phenomenon and the analysis on this basis of the national peculiarities of library work in different countries.

The theoretical foundations of socialist library science have been developed by Soviet library science as a result of the distillation of the experience of social development, including library work, which has been accumulated in the USSR. Socialist library science discloses the social role and special characteristics of a socialist library; the principles and methods of subordinating library work to the political, economic, and cultural goals of the country; the organizational forms, ways of differentiation, and methods of serving the people by means of books with the purpose of attracting the basic mass of the population to systematic reading and to the use of libraries. At its present stage of development socialist library science centers its attention on problems of the nature, essence, contents, and social conditions for molding the interests of readers; the place and role of the library in the system of scientific and technical information; and the scientific and theoretical fundamentals for a unified system for library service, among other problems. Problems of library techniques are studied in connection with the goals, tasks, and contents of library work. In their scientific research and practical work, library scientists utilize mathematical, statistical, sociological, and other methods. Especially important for library work are scientific conclusions concerning the importance of information in modern society. Certain methods and technical means of information are also developed which promise much for the future.

Important guidelines for Soviet library science were the directions of V. I. Lenin concerning library work, the resolutions of congresses of the Communist Party, and decrees and directives of the Soviet government which determined the creation and growth of the library network, the improvement of the organization of libraries, and the increase in their educative role. In the establishment of Soviet library science great services were rendered by N. K. Krupskaia, who, first as chairman of the Main Political Education Board (1920–30) and later as deputy people’s commissar of education (from 1929), daily directed the work of libraries. N. K. Krupskaia played a great role in the development of the general theoretical principles of Soviet library work, primarily in working out problems of the specifics of Soviet libraries, principles of organizing library work in the Soviet state, principles for reading guidance, library work with children, and so forth.

Important contributions to the development of Soviet library science have been made by such library scholars as Z. N. Ambartsumian, V. V. Vasil’chenko, Iu. V. Grigor’ev, A. V. Klenov, L. N. Tropovskii, G. G. Firsov, E. I. Khlebtsevich, E. I. Shamurin, and O. S. Chubar’ian. Of great significance for prerevolutionary Russian library science was the activity of such library scholars as V. I. Sobol’shchikov, L. B. Khavkina, K. N. Derunov, N. A. Rubakin, and P. M. Bogdanov. In the USSR library personnel are trained in special departments of institutes of culture, in certain universities and pedagogical institutes, at library divisions of cultural and educational schools, and at library technicums.

Bourgeois library science lacks a unified theoretical conception, despite its undoubted achievements in working out specific problems (problems of the mechanization and automation of library procedures, development of the principles for coordinating the acquisition of library collections, design of library buildings, and so on). This lack of conception is related to the objectivistic tendencies inherent in bourgeois library science, the essence of which lies in its attempts to produce a library, despite the real situation, that is an institution standing outside politics and outside the influence of the ideology of the ruling class; this institution collects literature of various political tendencies and presents it for the use of any reader. This has led the representatives of bourgeois library science to a denial of the objective laws for the development of library work, which undermines the theoretical fundamentals of library science as an independent branch of science and reduces it to a complex of organizational and technical problems.


Lenin i bibliotechnoe delo. Moscow, 1969.
Krupskaia, N. K. O bibliotechnom dele. Moscow, 1957.
Materialy k istorii bibliotechnogo dela v SSSR (1917–1959 gg.). Leningrad, 1960.
Chubar’ian, O. S. Obshchee bibliotekovedenie, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Bibliotechnye fondy. [Edited by Iu. V. Grigor’ev.] Moscow, 1967.
Bibliotechnye katalogi. Edited by Z. N. Ambartsumian. Moscow, 1967.
Rabota s chitateliami. Moscow, 1961.
Kunze, H. Grundzüge der Bibliothekslehre, 3rd ed. Leipzig, 1966.
Encyclopaedia of Librarianship, 3rd ed. Edited by Th. Landau. London [1967].


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