The Library today

The M. Gorky Scientific Library collection was founded over 230 years ago at St Petersburg University, which is the oldest university in Russia. Today, the Library is a large modern information centre with access to world scientific information.

The central stacks of the Library are situated in the main building of St Petersburg University, the Twelve Collegiums. This is a monument of 18th century St Petersburg architecture constructed by Domenico Trezzini. The Library was accommodated in this building in 1891.

The Library print collection runs to 6.8 million copies and almost 2 million titles. It is divided between a basic scientific collection and subject libraries of the University departments. The Library includes the Central Research Library and 21 subject libraries. It has 40 thousand current users, 30 thousand of them are students.

Historical reference

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 been supporting the Library throughout its whole history. Over 200 private collections of university professors and outstanding promoters of Russia science and culture are kept here. The collection of books acquired by the Library in the middle of the 19th 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 15th to 20th century editions as well as incunabula, palaeotypes and books in old Cyrillic script. The collection of Oriental manuscripts (about 50 thousand manuscripts) kept in the Oriental Department of the Library is unique.

Rare book and manuscripts collection

E-resources and catalogues

Access to resources from the list of electronic subscriptions is open only via the unique ID of the St Petersburg University customer at any time from any place in the world.

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General regulations

The M. Gorky Scientific Library of St Petersburg University is open for all of the students, teachers, researches and employees of St Petersburg University. They must be registered as a borrower and have university reading card. Students and professors from other higher educational establishments of St Petersburg and from other cities of Russia can use the reading halls of the library.

Guidelines for using the SPbU library and information resources: a notice to reader

Addresses and contacts