Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist

Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


(Ban), in Leningrad, one of the library centers in the system of scientific libraries of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; the oldest scientific library in the country.

The first state library in Russia was established in St. Petersburg in 1714, following an edict by Peter I. Its basic collection comprised books and manuscripts from the royal libraries and from the former Dispensary Office, which had been transported in 1712 from Moscow. In 1725 this library was transferred to the jurisdiction of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Throughout the 18th century the BAN remained the most important universal library in Russia in terms of public use. The acquisition of collections of domestic literature was carried out mainly through new academy publications, as well as by purchasing and by receiving separate books and collections as gifts. In 1783 the library began receiving a mandatory deposit copy of all domestic publications. Acquisition for the library was carried out by the most important scholars of that time: M. V. Lomonsov, S. K. Kotel’nikov, G. F. Miller, V. N. Tatishchev, and others. By the end of the 18th century the BAN had become one of the largest scientific book repositories in the world. Among the library’s readers were N. G. Chernyshevskii, D. I. Pisarev, D. I. Mendeleev, P. L. Chesbyshev, and I. P. Pavlov. In 1891 and 1894, V. I. Lenin worked in this library. In April 1917, V. I. Lenin became acquainted with the extremely rich collection of Russian illegal revolutionary literature which had been collected in this library. From 1921 to 1924, following Lenin’s directive, the library was transferred to a building especially constructed for it on a point on Vasil’evskii Island.

As of Jan. 1, 1970, the book collections of the library and its Leningrad network (29 libraries of academic institutions) amounted to approximately 12.5 million volumes, including over 8 million volumes at the central library.

The library’s holdings include literature on all branches of knowledge. The collection of domestic literature is almost exhaustive. There is an extremely complete collection of Russian books and journals of the 18th century. Of great value is the collection of publications of the Academy of Sciences, issued since the time of its founding. There are also extensive collections of foreign literature in physics, mathematics, and natural sciences. The library annually receives about 10,000 titles of foreign periodicals and serial publications. It has a very rich collection of manuscript materials (approximately 16,000 items), among which are the following: chronicles (including those of Ipat’ev and Radzivil), chronicle compilations, chronographs, historical collections, and translations of Byzantine and Western European chronicles. The library regularly organizes archaeographical expeditions in order to collect monuments of Old Russian written literature. Among the richest and oldest of the specialized collections is its cartographic collection, including over 90,000 items. The central library and its Leningrad branches annually serve more than 30,000 readers.

The library carries on a book exchange with more than 2,800 scientific institutions in 99 countries. It publishes bibliographical indexes of literature on specific subjects and problems of science, prepares printed catalogs of specific book collections, publishes scientific descriptions of its manuscript materials, and issues topical collections on various problems of book control, theory, and practice of library management and bibliography.

The BAN is the coordinating center for reference and scientific bibliographical works of the libraries of the USSR in the fields of physics, mathematics, and natural sciences. In 1964 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

As early as the beginning of the 19th century, with the creation in the Academy of Sciences of museums, laboratories, studies, and, later, institutes, there came into being special libraries attached to academic institutions. In 1930 the special libraries of the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, located in Leningrad, Moscow, and other cities of the country, were combined into a unified library network, which constituted the largest complex of scientific libraries in the world. The BAN in Leningrad became their administrative, organizational, and methodological center. Since this time this library has organized centrally the acquisitions for the libraries of academic institutions as well as the cataloging of foreign literature received by them. In 1934 (in connection with the transfer to Moscow of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, as well as a number of scientific and research academic institutions), first a library post was organized in Moscow, and after 1938, a section of the network of specialized libraries, amounting to a branch of the BAN. Subsequently, in the process of the development of scientific research, a branch system of scientific libraries was developed in the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (as of Jan. 1,1969, there were 170 libraries in this system) with four library centers—the BAN in Leningrad; the Fundamental Library of Social Sciences (since July 1969, the Institute of Scientific Information and the Fundamental Library of Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR) in Moscow; the section of the network of specialized libraries (Moscow), which unites libraries of academic institutions which have a natural science character in Moscow and outside it; and the State Public Scientific and Technical Library of the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Novosibirsk. The general direction of the activity of these centers, each of which has its own library network, is conducted by library councils on natural and social sciences in conjunction with the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.


Istoriia Biblioteki AN SSSR: 1714–1964. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Biblioteka AN SSSR (1714–1964): Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Leningrad, 1964.


Full browser ?