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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: G-16Last update of repository: 15 May 2015
Biblioteka Rossiiskoi Akademii nauk (BAN)
The initial predecessor of BAN was established in 1714 by Peter the Great as the first publicly accessible library in Russia, initially connected to the Kunstkammer, and in 1725 it came under the Imperial Petersburg Academy of Sciences. The basis of the library fonds and manuscripts were the books from the Kremlin Tsar’s Library in Moscow, from the Apothecary prikaz, the Library of the Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp, the Mitava Library of the Duchy of Courland, the personal collection of Peter I from the Summer Palace, and the book and manuscript collections of several members of the Emperor’s entourage—Jacob Daniel Bruce (Ia.V. Brius), Feofan Prokopovich, J.W. Pause (I.V. Pauze), Andreus (A.A.) Vinius, Robert Areskin (Erskine), the disgraced great noble (vel'mozha) Count Andrejs Ostermann (A.I. Osterman), and Burchard Christopher Münnich (B.K. Minikh).
As the most important library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, BAN now ranks among the richest libraries in the world (over 19 million titles). In addition to the holdings in its main building, BAN also has specialized divisions or sectors in over forty Academy institutes or other institutions under the St. Petersburg Scientific Center of RAN. (Many of these are mentioned under Academy institutes in Part E).
Starting in the eighteenth century, many manuscript books were also acquired from institutional sources, especially the Russian Academy, the Archeographic Commission, and the Archeological Institute. A separate Manuscript Division was founded in 1901, which was subsequently augmented by these and a number of private collections—including those of the Novgorod gentry landowner P.N. Krekshin, the historian V.N. Tatishchev, Professor Nordquist (Nordkvist) (with Slavic manuscripts from the Finnish Senate), the Slavicists A.I. Iatsimirskii and I.I. Sreznevskii, the merchants F.M. Pliushkin and N.Ia. Kolobov, the Slavicists and Old Believer researcher V.G. Druzhinin, and many others. After 1901, on the initiative of V.I. Sreznevskii, a series of archeographic expeditions started gathering manuscripts and early printed books from throughout Russia, greatly augmenting the manuscript fonds of BAN.
After the Revolution, in 1924, a Cabinet of Incunabula, Foreign Rare and Early Printed Books, Manuscripts, and Prints was established, to which was transferred foreign manuscripts that had earlier been held (since the 18th c.) in the Second Division of the library. In 1931, foreign manuscript materials were transferred to the Manuscript Division, which previously had only housed Russian and Slavic manuscript books.
In connection with the archival reform and reorganization within the Academy of Sciences (1931), the library was required to transfer many of its archival fonds from the Manuscript Division to state archives (including LOTsIA, now RGIA, B-3), to the Public Library (now RNB, G-15), and to archives and institutes of the Academy of Sciences. Among those transferred were archives of the Department of Police and other government organs, especially documentation on the history of social and cultural movements, including archives and illegal publications of political parties, as well as personal papers of revolutionaries, writers, and scholars. (For example, many fonds relating to literature, folklore, and social thought were transferred to Pushkinskii Dom—E-25.) Since that time, the Manuscript Division (OR) became an Academy-wide special depository for manuscript books in Russian, Slavonic, Greek, and Latin languages from the earliest times to the early twentieth century. It was renamed the Division of Manuscripts and Rare Books—ORRK (Otdel rukopisei i redkoi knigi) in 1952. In 1993, as a result of the consolidation of three sectors, the division became known as the Division of Manuscripts, Rare Books, and Cartography—ORRKK (often, ORRKiK—Otdel rukopisei, redkoi knigi i kartografii). Further reorganization in 1996 has left those three sectors again separate, with the collections of manuscript books now constituting the Scientific Research Division of Manuscripts (NIOR).
A devastating fire ravaged the library in February 1988, and approximately 400,000 volumes were lost beyond repair and over 3,600,000 damaged by water, steam, and moisture, but the holdings of the Manuscript and Rare Book Division were fortunately spared. Losses were most severe in the obligatory depository sections of the basic holdings, in the K.M. Baer collection (foreign books to 1930), in holdings of foreign serials, and in the Newspaper Division (approximately one third), especially the Soviet-period holdings.
The current Sector for Museum Exhibition and Archival Work was established in 1990.
In addition to other archival holdings described below, it should also be noted that BAN has been actively collecting samizdat and unofficial periodicals from the pre-1991 period. The library recently purchased the rich collection brought together by the St. Petersburg Independent Public Library (Sankt-Peterburgskaia nezavisimaia obshchestvennaia biblioteka), which had been founded in 1989, specifically to collect underground and unofficial materials of socio-political interest and those relating to current political parties and social movements.