189th Anniversary of Opening Imperial Public Library in St Petersburg

On Tuesday St.Petersburg will host an annual scientific and practical conference devoted to the 189th anniversary of opening the Imperial public library /now - the Russian National Library/.

The St. Petersburg book depository was founded as early as 1795: it was then that Empress Yekaterina II approved of the library building project presented by Yegor Sokolov, an architect. The place for the library was chosen in the center of the city.

The process of building was controlled by the Empress herself, who regularly listened to reports on the work. Yekaterina II was also involved in forming the library stock: by her order a collection of books written by Zalussky brothers, which became the beginning of the Public library's foreign stock, was brought to St. Petersburg. Yekaterina II wanted to unite the received collection with the Woltaire and Diderot collections, kept in the Hermitage's library.

The process of developing the Imperial public library went on for nearly 20 years: it opened only on January 14th, 1814, during the reign of Yekaterina's grandson, Alexander I.

In the first years after the library had been opened it hosted 500-600 people daily, while now over one million readers attend it.

The Russian National Library's stock is currently estimated at about 34 million items. It includes Russia's largest collection of incunabula /over 6,000 volumes/, Egyptian papyri, Indian, Arab, Persian, Tibetan scribal books, scribal "Ostromir's Gospel" /1056-1057/, "Anthology of 1076", "Lavrentyevsaya chronicle" /1377/ and many other unique books.

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