Central Reference Library

The Reference Library encompasses over 893 thousand publications, including more than 198 thousand books and 680 thousand journals in Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Western European languages. These are outstanding European works dated from the 16th century onwards, as well as an extensive range of domestic publications dating back the 18th century — encyclopedias; geographic, historical, sectoral, explanatory, bilingual and other dictionaries; reference books for all branches of knowledge.

The Library holds the most important world encyclopedias. Among them is the largest German encyclopedia of the 18th century – the Great Complete Encyclopedia of All Sciences and Arts (Grosses vollstandiges Universal-Lexikon aller Wissenschaften und Kunste. 1732 - 1754, 750 thousand entries), printed in 68 volumes in Leipzig by I.G. Zedler. The general landmark of the French Enlightenment is Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts (Encyclopédie, oil Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. 1751–1777. 28 vols.). This edition consists of 17 volumes with 60 thousand articles and 11 volumes of illustrations. In addition, it has 4 volumes of later supplements (1776–1777) and 2 volumes of indexes (1780). It was edited by Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Denis Diderot. The latter was also the organizer of the project and the author of most articles on the exact sciences. Many of the famous enlighteners contributed to the Encyclopédie. It was reprinted several times. The Encyclopédie's influence shaped the modern day encyclopedias — similar publications appeared in many countries. For instance, the Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1768–1771), published in English in Ehrenburg, served as the basis for the British Encyclopedia. In the nineteenth century, an important role in the development of this type of publication was played by the German editions: the Brockhaus Encyclopedia and the Meyers Lexikon (1839–1852. 46 vols, 6 volumes of later supplements).

The domestic publications are covered in completeness. The so-called real (geographical, historical, etc.) dictionaries that appeared in the 18th century are widely represented. These include the Russian first encyclopedic dictionaries compiled by Vasily Tatishchev in the 1730s (published in 1793), Semen Selivanovsky (1822 - 1825), Adolphe Pluchart (1835–1841), F.-E. G. Toll, (1863 - 1864), etc. The authors of reference articles were many prominent figures of Russian science and culture.

The Library also holds official reference books published by local authorities in 89 provinces and regions of Russian Empire, Memorial Books of Provinces and Regions of Russian Empire (over 3,5 thousand items). They are among the most valuable local publications, such as Provincial and Diocesan Gazettes, etc. No library in Russia has a complete collection of the Memorial Books. The Memorial Books which do not have a large circulation and were distributed within their own region, almost immediately became a bibliographic rarity. The variety of publishing products of the past years is listed in the catalogues of publishers (M. Wolf, Glazunovs, P. Soikin, I. Sytin, P. Shibanov, etc.).

The modern domestic publications is described in state bibliographic indexes, chronicles of books, journals, publications, and other informational publications that are regularly issued by the Book Chamber. Among the periodicals that include a large amount of information,  are abstract and other journals VINITI (All-Russian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information). The Library possesses an extensive collection of a wide range of modern reference books in all their diversity.


  • Memorial Books of Provinces and Regions of Russian Empire (1836-1917 )
    [over 3,5 thousand items]
    One of the most complete collections in Russia. It consists of official reference books published by local authorities in 89 provinces and regions of Russian Empire. The Memorial Books contain information about the province (region) for a certain year, as well as retrospective data. The publications that are issued in small print runs, consider to be  the rare ones. Material from this collection is used in the preparation of the Index to the Memorial Books which has been involved many Russian libraries.

Via the ELECTRONIC CATALOGUE, users have access to many publications stored in the Library, including unique ones.


Description of the Collection

Brief Summary