National Library of Ukraine

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National Library of Ukraine [Національна бібліотека України; Natsionalna biblioteka Ukrainy im. V.I. Vernadskoho]. Formerly Central Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The largest research library in Ukraine. It has a status of a scholarly-research institute within the Department of History, Philosophy, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. It consists of five institutes (Library Science; Manuscript; Archival Studies; Book Studies; and Biographical Studies, each with separate departments); six centers (Library Electronic Resources and Technologies; Scholarly Bibliography; the Formation of Library Information Resources; Scholarly Publishing; Conservation and Restoration; and Social Communications Study, including the National Law Library and the Fund of the Presidents of Ukraine); and nine separate departments (among them that of the United Nations Collections; National Bibliography; Newspaper Collections, and others). The library employs over 900 people, among them librarians (65 percent), scholarly staff (20 percent), and auxiliary (15 percent).

The library was established in 1918 at the same time as the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kyiv and was known at first as the National Library of the Ukrainian State. In 1919 it was renamed the National Library of Ukraine (Всенародна бібліотека України; Vsenarodna biblioteka Ukrainy) and affiliated with the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Publishers were required to provide the library, as the official Ukrainian depository, with copies of their publications. By 1940 the library contained five million holdings. During the Second World War it sustained some damage. In 1948 it was renamed the State Public Library of the Ukrainian SSR. During Soviet times, holdings of the library that were considered to be ideologically subversive were kept in special repositories with restricted access. On 24 May 1964 many valuable old printed books, manuscripts, rare books, archives (of the Central Rada, Borys Hrinchenko, Kievskaia starina), and other materials in the library were destroyed in a fire, which was exposed as officially sanctioned arson in the samvydav pamphlet V spravi Pohruzhal's'koho (On the Pohruzhalsky Case). In 1965 it was renamed the Central Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1988 the library was named after Volodymyr Vernadsky. In 1996 it was granted the national library status and it assumed its current name. Between 1992 and 2013 the library was headed by the academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Oleksii Onyshchenko, and since 2013 by Volodymyr Popyk.

The library’s core fund was formed during the 1920s and 1930s from the collections of several pre-revolutionary institutions, among them the Kyiv Theological Academy, the Prince Oleksander Bezborodko Historico-Philological Institute in Nizhyn (see Nizhyn Lyceum), and Kyiv University, as well as a number of museums and monasteries. Also, the library acquired the massive archive of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and numerous personal archives. As of 2017 the library holds more than 15.5 million items, including manuscripts, books, and periodicals. Among the most precious are the collections of the Manuscript Institute that contain about 400,000 handwritten documents and books, ranging from cuneiform clay tablets from ancient Mesopotamia to medieval Arabic and Persian Koranic literature to ancient and medieval Greek manuscripts, Latin alchemic treatises and numerous Latin, Polish, and Cyrillic texts written on the territory of Ukraine (gospels, sermons, chronicles, treatises, diaries, poems, etc.). All these items include 8,000 handwritten books, 100,000 old archival documents, numerous personal materials of Ukraine’s prominent intellectuals and public figures from the 19th and 20th centuries, and the collection of Jewish manuscripts and prints. As for the field of Ukrainian history, the Manuscript Institute contains such rarities as ‘Kyїvs'ki hlaholychni lystky’ (Kyiv Missal, 10th century), a fragment of the Slipchyn Apostolos (12th century), the Orsha Gospel (13th century), the Peresopnytsia Gospel (1556–61), the universals of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, and manuscripts of works by Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Ahatanhel Krymsky, and others. The old prints and rare books collection contains around 60,000 volumes, including the first printed books from Western Europe from the late 15th century. The library also boasts about 8,000 books of the 15th–18th century in Slavonic script (eg, S. Fiol’s Chasoslovets [Horologion, 1491], Frantsisk Skoryna’s Bibliia ruska [1517–19], Ivan Fedorovych (Fedorov)’s Apostolos [1584], the Ostroh Bible [1581]), Petro Mohyla’s Katekhisys and Trebnyk, and 152,000 art works, 38,000 dissertations, 516 incunabula, and more than 117,000 annual runs of newspapers.

The library’s main periodical is Bibliotechnyi visnyk (since 1993). It has also published several more specialized series, among them Rukopysna ta knyzhkova spadshchyna Ukraïny (17 volumes, 1993–2012), Ukraïns’ka biohrafistyka (13 volumes, 1996–2016), and Naukovi pratsi Natsional’noї biblioteky Ukraïny imeni V.I. Vernads’koho (44 volumes, 1998–2016).

Istoriia Tsentral’noi nauchnoi biblioteki Akademii nauk Ukrainskoi SSR (Kyiv 1979)
Natsional’na biblioteka Ukraïny imeni V.I. Vernads’koho, 1918-1998: Bibliohrafichnyi pokazhchyk literatury za 1993–1998 rr. (Kyiv 1998)
Dubrovina, L. and O. Onyshchenko, Istoriia Natsional’noï biblioteky Ukraïny imeni V.I. Vernads’koho, 1918–1941 (Kyiv 1998)
Dubrovina, L. and O. Onyshchenko, Istoriia Natsional’noï biblioteky Ukraïny imeni V.I. Vernads’koho, 1941–1964 (Kyiv 2003)
Dubrovina, L. and O. Onyshchenko, Istoriia Natsional’noï biblioteky Ukraïny imeni V.I. Vernads’koho, 1965–1991 (Kyiv 2008)

Serhiy Bilenko, Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article was updated in 2017.]

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