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LIBRARIES. In Lithuania the earliest collections of books were centered in monasteries and their schools. Such libraries are encountered from the beginning of the 15th century, and until the 16th century were rather small. In Vilnius the largest library belonged to the Franciscan Order and comprised 104 works. From the middle of the 16th century more books began to appear on estates; they were brought back by the nobility who had studied in Western Europe. The oldest extant book inventory dates from 1510 and pertains to the library of Albertas Gostautas, chancellor of Lithuania. The library consisted of 77 books in Latin, Old Church Slavic, Polish, and Czech, the majority of which were manuscripts. In the same period King Sigismund the Old began collecting a library in his palace in Vilnius. The library was greatly expanded by his son Sigismund Augustus, who sent personal agents to buy books in Western Europe. This library, housed in Vilnius' Low Castle, numbered about 4,000 volumes, some of which were quite rare for that period; it was larger than the royal library in Cracow. Sigismund Augustus bequeathed his library to the Jesuit College of Vilnius, which also took over the Vilnius diocesan chapter library.
When the Jesuit College of Vilnius became an academy (in fact a university) in 1579, its library became the central one in Lithuania; it was enlarged by donations from the nobility During the Russian attack on Vilnius in 1655, the academy's library was transported to Konigsberg, East Prussia, from where a part of the collection was confiscated by the Swedes and taken to the University of Uppsala. In the later half of the 18th century, the library of the academy numbered 18,000 volumes, which included the large collection donated by King Stanislas Augustus (1765-95). At the time when the academy formally became a university in 1803, its library consisted mostly of theological and philosophical works (80%), mainly in Latin. By 1831 the library had changed to contain literature (50%) and works in medicine, the natural sciences, and social studies (30%); 35% of the books were in French. When the Russians closed the university in 1832, the library contained 52,000 volumes; of these ca 10,000 largely old manuscripts and Works of philosophy, law, history and mathematics, were transported to the University of Kiev; the others were divided between the Theological Academy and the Academy of Medicine, both of which had been established in Vilnius. In 1842 the Academy of Medicine was closed and its library was taken to the University of Kharkov. In 1844 the Theological Academy and its library were relocated in St. Petersburg, capital of imperial Russia. The University of Vilnius Library had been the most important in Lithuania during the 16th-19th centuries.
Besides the University of Vilnius, other larger libraries of the 16th-19th
centuries belonged to the Franciscan friaries in Vilnius (15,000 volumes) and Kretinga (3,000 vols.), which also housed 40 rare incunabulas; the Dominican friary in Gardinas (10,000 vols.); the Synod of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Vilnius, which safeguarded important documents of the beginning of the Reformation in Lithuania; the Jesuit College in Kražiai (3,000 vols.); the Protestant Gymnasium Illustre in Kedainiai (30,000 vols.), damaged during the Swedish invasion of 1655; the prince Radvilas family in Nesvyzius (ca 20,000 vols.); and to Canon John C. Gintila, which included a valuable collection of books in the Hebrew language. None of these libraries have survived in their entirety.
Many libraries were harmed by the repressive measures initiated by the Russian government after the 1863-64 uprising. When the government closed monasteries and their schools and confiscated estates, large numbers of books were lost; the remainder were brought to the former University of Vilnius. There the Vilnius Public Library was opened in 1867. It took over the libraries of the Medical Society and the Archaeological Commission, some 40,000 volumes. In 1877 the Vilnius Public Library had 257,437 volumes, of which the majority were Russian books and only 300 were Lithuanian. From 1903 the library began to receive Lithuanian publications printed in the United States. Before the German occupation of Vilnius in1915, the Russians carried off the more valuable books and manuscripts. At that time the Vilnius Public Library contained 310,000 volumes.
During the Polish rule of Vilnius from 1920-39, the university was revived and was placed in charge of the public library. In a decade the library increased to 450,000 volumes. Several large libraries functioned under the auspices of societies and private individuals. The Jewish Strashun Library, established in 1892, contained 40,000 volumes, including the most renowned collection in Europe of old books and manuscripts in Hebrew. The Polish Wroblewski Library consisted of 180,000 books, over 3,000 manuscripts, 18,000 documents, 1,600 maps, and the sole collection in Lithuania of Freemasonic insignia and documents. The Wroblewski Library served the Institute of East European Studies, which had collected much documentary material on
the Soviet Union. The Polish Learned Society library and museum had over 80,000 books, the majority of which concerned Lithuanian history. The Lithuanian Learned Society (Lietuviu Mokslo Draugija), established in 1907, was the first library designated solely for Lithuanian studies; its foundation was the private collection of Jonas
Basanavicius, and it eventually contained 42,000 volumes (see Lithuanian Learned S'ociety).
One of the older libraries (6,420 volumes) in Kaunas belonged to the Theological Seminary, transferred from Varniai in 1864. During the period of independent Lithuania, it together with the library of the Kaunas diocesan chapter reached 33,000 volumes. This combined library housed the important archives of Bishop Motiejus Valancius. When the University of Kaunas began to function in 1922, a completely new main library with separate faculty libraries was instituted; by 1939 it numbered 300,000 volumes. A Central Military Library was also organized, whose 105 branches contained 180,000 volumes of modern military literature. At first, public libraries and reading rooms were rounded by private individuals, societies and town councils. The Central National Library (ValstybSs CentrinS Bitilioteka) was established in 1919 in Kaunas; by1939 it had 135 branches throughout the country and 70,000 volumes. There existed also a wide network of school
libraries (2,316) and those of 'organizations, largely youth (2,075). The
largest of the libraries maintained by town councils was the Vincas Kudirka Library (14,000 vols.) in Kaunas; special facilities were erected for it. The Marian Fathers' monastery in Marijampole had over 50,000 volumes, which included a large collection of works pertaining to Lithuanian studies. Immediately prior to World War II the library of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies was being organized in Kaunas; its purpose was to amass specialized literature and documents for the study of Lithuanian history and culture. Over 2,000 volumes were collected.
During the first Soviet occupation in 1940-41, libraries in Lithuania were affected by the nationalization process and by the adaptation to Marxist ideological principles. All libraries were ordered to "purge" themselves of socalled bourgeois literature: patriotic, religious, political and, in a broad sense, "anti-soviet". Schools, societies, and smaller libraries had to relinquish such literature to the administration authorities; the larger libraries had to take such books off the shelves. A special library-purging authority functioned in Vilnius; it inspected books and sent undesirable volumes to paper factories. This destruction of books was halted by the outbreak of the Russo-German War on June 22, 1941. During the German occupation of 1941-1944, a different ideological line was taken, the libraries had to purge their
shelves of Soviet and Semitic literature. The old Hebrew publications
from the Strashun Library in Vilnius were transported to Germany, all other Jewish library books were destroyed. The library of the Evangelical Synod, with its rare old books and manuscripts, was demolished by fire during the second Soviet army invasion of Vilnius in 1944.
After World War II under Soviet rule, its library regulating principles,
inaugurated during the first occupation, were renewed and extended. Already in 1940-41 libraries had been nationalized and united. Books from monasteries, estates, and societies had been brought to the larger town libraries. The main concentration point was the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in Vilnius, established on Jan. 16, 1941. It took over the Wroblewski Library, the libraries of the Lithuanian and Polish Learned Societies, the library of the Theological Seminary in Vilnius, the Military Library in Kaunas, and others. Thus 380,000 books and periodicals and ca 15,000 manuscripts were concentrated in one place. In 1956 the significant and renowned archives of the Vilnius diocesan chapter, which had been hidden in the Cathedral during the war, were taken over. The Academy library at present contains over 100,000 old, rare publications, including 100 incunabulas; 200,000 manuscripts, including ca 1,500 parchment documents; over 1,200 maps; and a large collection of old engravings and photographs. The institutes of the Academy have separate libraries, of which the most important is the library of the Institute of Lithuanian Language and Literature. This library contains over 70,000 books and28,000 manuscripts, which largely concern early Lithuanian literature. Its foundation is the library of the Lithuanian Learned Society.
The University of Vilnius library reached over two million Volumes after World War II; it gained mostly in Soviet Russian publications. Its oldest books and manuscripts (14th-15th centuries) date from the earlier era of the old University of Vilnius. Several books have survived from. the library of Sigismund Augustus. Archives of former estates, court documents, a large collection of maps from the 16th-18th centuries, and much iconographic material were given to the university library. Some of the old books and manuscripts, which had been transported to Russia in 1915 and 1939 were returned to Lithuania after the war.
One of the largest libraries is the Library of the Republic (Republikinė biblioteka) in Vilnius. It is the same as the National Library, which functioned in Kaunas from 1919; in 1963 it was relocated to its new building in Vilnius. In 1970 the library had four million catalogued items: books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts, microfilms, and illustrative materials. A large collection (over 100,000 items) consists of literature about Lithuania in different languages. The library maintains ties with 36 countries and publishes the monthly journal Bibliotekų Darbai (The Work of Libraries). The registration and collection of Lithuanian publications througliout the world is one of the functions of the Hall of Books (Knygų Rūmai), established in Vilnius in 1945 as a scholastic institution of bibliography. It has amassed over a million publications; it publishes the monthly Spaudos Metraštis (The Press Annual). Academic, art, and educational institutions maintain separate libraries.
There were 2,328 public libraries in1970; the majority of these were established after World War II. The new libraries abound in Soviet ideological and propagandistic literature in Lithuanian and Russian. The public libraries are uniformly supplied from one book distribution center, which determines what is suitable and necessary for the people to read. Since the contents of all publications are still severely censored, any work which is alien to the Soviet regime in any way
is not allowed in public libraries. The pre-war and contemporary foreign literature found in the large libraries is available to a select clientele who must gain special permission.
Bibl.: K. Jablonskis. "Alberto Gostauto biblioteka," V.V.U. Mokslinės bibliotekos metraštis, IV, Vilnius, 1911; K. Hartleb, BMjoteka Zygmunta Augusta, Lwow, 1928; M. Brensztejn, Bibljoteka uniwersyiecka w Wilnie do roku 1832, Wilno, 1922; A. I. Milovidov, Iz istorii Vilcnakoi -publichnoi biblioteki, Vilno, 1911; L. Vladimirovas, Vilniaus universiteto biblioteka, Vilnius, 1958; A. Ivaškevičius, LTSR Mokslų Akademijos Centrinė biblioteka, Vilnius. 1959.
Text from the ENCYCLOPEDIA LITUANICA I-VI.  Boston, 1970-1978