Manuscripts Room


Reader Service Desk in the Manuscripts Reading Room of the Imperial Public Library. Drawing by P. Borel. 1852

"...The reading room forms the right wing of the Oval Reception. It has the similar size and shape to the Manuscript Storage Room that makes up the left wing. In contrast to the latter, it does not have bookcases surrounding the columns...

The room is furnished with two long reading tables, placed parallel to each other in the lateral sections, separated by the columns. It is equipped also with eight small lifting tables that abut against the same columns. Each table has a double-sided sofa in front of it....»  

«In the evenings, the room is illuminated by a chandelier and lamps on the tables. In this place, readers can enjoy the peace and quiet. The eternal silence is not broken even by footstep sounds: the whole room is covered with a carpet, composed of gutta percha and cork..."

Guidebook to the Imperial Public Library. 1872



Manuscripts Room

This space was originally occupied by the first reading room of the Library, with 48 seats for readers. The Reader Service Desk was located in the left corner of the room. Its staff were responsible for the delivery of the Library’s books to its users.

At first,  the Library's holdings were replenished with individual manuscripts. A year after the purchase of the Dubrovsky Collection, Alexander I donated the famous Ostromir Gospel, the oldest dated Russian manuscript book (1056–1057), to the Library. In 1810 A. I. Ermolaev, the assistant to the curator of manuscripts, presented the Library with a copy of the Ipatiev Chronicle. In 1811, Count A. I. Musin-Pushkin gave the Laurentian Chronicle of 1377, containing the oldest copy of the Tale of Bygone Years, as a gift, and thereby saved the unique manuscript from destruction in the Moscow fire of 1812, which consumed away his great collection together with the only extent copy of  the Tale of Igor's Campaign.


Photo Gallery


Tour of the Manuscripts Department 
(The film is in Russian)

Music Gifts to the Russian Emperors

Music Gifts to the Russian Emperors

Tale of the Neva Battle of 1240  
(The film is in Russian)
Ostromir Gospel. 1056-57
Ostromir Gospel. 11th century.
Digitized Manuscript
Ostromir Gospel
See the most interesting miniatutes and initials