Lenin Room




"... The room is the first purpose-built reading area. Here you can find all the facilities for users' convenience, that you could think of. This is certainly the only room lit by gas in the evening. The lighting system, consisting of 50 cylindrical gas lamps on tables and 20 gas horns in the front hall and on the stairs, costs the Library no more than 70 kopecks ( a coin worth 1/100 of a rouble) per hour. The room with a flat vault has been designed as a double-height space and extends two floors. A row of windows, located on the right side at a significant height, perfectly illuminate it.."  

"Opposite is a desk for staffers responsible for retrieving books. The several thousand mostly demanded items are arranged in bookcases standing nearby around ... On the left, there is a small reading room for ladies. On the right is a light-filled space where artists feel comfortable painting from large prints. It has a high celeing and huge semicircular windows at a height of 40 feet. Here, you can aslo read the latest issues of popular and scholarly periodicals ... The rooms are intended for reading and have no architectural embellishments. They are only decorated with two excellent paintings by Reichert. One, at the back of the main room, portrays Emperor Alexander I. The other, placed above the entrance to the female room, is a gift from His Majesty Emperor. The painting depicts the invention of printing. Gutenberg, holding the first successful sheet in his hand, stands near the printing press between the capitalist speculator Faust and the simple mechanic Schaeffer ...

Strolling through the Imperial Public Library. 1872



The new reading room was built by Vasily Sobolshchikov in two years (1860-1862). The first special area for reading was enthusiastically received by the public and staff. It was indeed much more comfortable than others in every respect. The well-lit room had lifts for books, bookcases and tables for a reference library, dedicated spaces for artists and female readers.

Next to the reading room, the architect arranged a special room for ladies, where they had a chance to freshen up, with the help of two women from the staff. Here female readers could find the ladies toilet accessories: pins, hairpins, buttons, needles, threads, ribbons, etc.

Bookcases were illuminated by special lamps with reflectors. The desired room temperature was controlled by the good air-conditioning unit.
Until the end of the 19th century, the Sobolshchikov Room remained as the main reading space.

On 22 April 1960, the reading room was dedicated to V. Lenin, the founder and first head of the Soviet Union, to commemorate his 90th birthday.


Photo Gallery



Architects of the NLR.
Fragment with views of the Central Facade, Main Staircase and Lenin Room
Lenin Reading Room
Karl Bulla, the Chief Photographer of the Imperial Public Library