M. Gorky Scientific Library
St Petersburg University
The M. Gorky Scientific Library of St Petersburg University is one of the oldest and largest university libraries in Russia. It also serves as a monument to national enlightenment, science, and culture. By the richness and variety of its collection it ranks among the most prominent libraries of the world. The basic collection dates back to 1783, when Empress Catherine the Great presented the First Teachers Seminary with 1100 volumes from one of the private collections. Private donations have supported the Library throughout its history. Over 200 private collections of university professors and outstanding promoters of Russian science and culture are kept here. The collection of books acquired by the Library in the middle of the nineteenth century is most certainly of great historical and documentary importance. It includes books from: the collection of the Petersburg Censorship Committee (20 thousand books); the Committee of Foreign Censorship (about 10 thousand books); the archive and the library of the Liberal Society of Russian Philologists; and the library of the Bestuzhev Higher Courses for Women, which was the first higher education establishment for women in Russia. The collection of rarities, which numbers 100 thousand books, includes a collection of fifteenth- to twentieth-century editions as well as incunabula, palaeotypes, and books in old Cyrillic script.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department keeps all old-print books; foreign books from the fifteenth century to 1800; Russian books from the beginning of home book-printing to 1800; books that were illegal, banned and destroyed by censorship; the most outstanding relics of typography; first editions; and classic’s lifetime editions. This department’s collection also includes some of the collections, which were acquired by the Library, with the collections of the books of the Censorship Committee, the Committee of Foreign Censorship and book collections of outstanding Russian cultural workers.
Rare and lifetime editions of outstanding figures in domestic and foreign science and culture, and classics of Russian and world literature, are kept in the Library. They are of exceptional value. There are the rarest editions of Galilei, Kepler, Newton, Linnaeus and Laplace, M.V.Lomonosov and D.I.Mendelejev, and works of A.S.Pushkin, N.V.Gogol, L.N.Tolstoy, F.M.Dostoevsky. Due to the acquisition of books of the Censorship Committee, the Library has the most valuable collection of censors’ copies of books. They were published in St Petersburg in the first half of the nineteenth century. The books with autographs of outstanding writers and scholars including F.M.Dostoevsky, T.G.Shevchenko, A.N.Maikov and A.A.Fet take up a significant part in the collection.
Numerous editions of the epoch of West European revolutions of the nineteenth century, works of the classics of Utopian Socialism came to the Library with the books from the Committee of Foreign Censorship. These books make up a unique collection of foreign books banned in Russia during the reign of Nicholas I.
Contact InformationSt Petersburg University
The Twelve Collegia Building
7-9 Universitetskaya Emb.
199034 St Petersburg,
+7 (812) 328- 95-46
Eurasia and Eastern Europe