Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library, Moscow, Russia

Post-2006 Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library Single Reader’s Card

Post-2006 Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library Single Reader’s Card (front)
Front of Card (English translation)
Post-2006 Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library Single Reader’s Card (back)
Back of Card (English translation)

Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library

The Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library had its beginnings at the First Library Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1911, when Alexander Aleksandrovich Pokrovsky (Александр Александрович Покровский)(1879–1942), a Russian librarian and bibliographer, proposed the establishment of a network of public libraries throughout Imperial Russia. That proposal resulted in establishing The Central City Library of Moscow, which opened its doors eight years later on January 1, 1919..


Founder of The Central City Library of Moscow, Alexander Alexandrovich Pokrovsky (Александр Александрович Покровский) (1879-1942) Photo Credit: unknown author (no known copyright restrictions)

Since the library was established after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the catalog of The Central City Library of Moscow was comprised of “nationalized” inventory seized from private and state-run collections, book warehouses, and abandoned shops that became the property of Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik regime that had taken control during the revolution. The People’s Commissariat for Education, also known as Narkompros (Народный комиссариат просвещения, Наркомпрос), led by Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky (Анатолий Васильевич Луначарский), coordinated the centralization and inventory of collections.

The first location of the library, No. 10 Novaya Basmannaya Ulitsa (Новая Басманная ул., 10) was an elaborate private apartment abandoned by an attorney that fled Russia during the revolution. Subsequently, the abandoned residence came under the jurisdiction of the Moscow worker’s council, also known as Soviet (сове́т)1. This building currently houses the Department of Labor and Social Protection of Population (Департамент труда и социальной защиты населения города Москвы).

Constructed in 1914, 10 Novaya Basmannaya Ulitsa, became the first home to The Central City Library of Moscow. Photo credit: nekrasovka.ru (no known copyright restrictions)
10 Novaya Basmannaya Ulitsa today. The building currently houses the Department of Labor and Social Protection of Population (Департамент труда и социальной защиты населения города Москвы) Photo credit: googlemaps.com

In 1925, due to the growing demand for library resources, the Central City Library of Moscow relocated to Arbatskaya Ploshchad (ул. Арбат, 2/1) and merged with the Central Reference Library, which already occupied a part of the building.  The combined libraries were renamed the Moscow Provincial Central Library.  The new, combined library added new services such as bookmobiles, book delivery,  and specialized reading rooms, including youth and periodical reading rooms.  In 1936, the library’s name was reestablished as The Central City Library of Moscow. 

The second home to The Central City Library of Moscow. Parts of the building were constructed as early as 1799. The building located at Arbat Street 2/1 (ул. Арбат, 2/1) is deemed a cultural landmark and is now the home of the luxury restaurant, Praga (Прага ресторан). Photo credit: nekrasovka.ru (no known copyright restrictions)
Praga Restoran on Arbatskaya Ploshchad (Arbat Square) (Photo credit: Иван Манилов) This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license (original photo cropped)

Although readership declined during WWII, the library became a vital source for information and news from the war front.  Mobile libraries were formed to serve military personnel, evacuation centers, and hospitals throughout Moscow.  During air raids, the librarians would flee to bomb shelters with newspapers and books so that townspeople would have reading materials and news about current events while sheltering.

In 1946, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the poet, N.A. Nekrasov, the library was renamed the N.A. Nekrasov Library.  

During the 1950s, the N.A. Nekrasov Library had a dramatic increase in readership and the volumes held by the library increased from 74,000 to nearly 300,000; however, not all of the inventory was available to the public.  In June 1955, to accommodate the increase in library inventory, the library was moved to the former estate of Princess Anna Sergeevna Saltykova (Анна Сергеевна кн. Салтыкова) (1848-1917) at No. 20/1 on Bolshaya Bronnaya (Большая Бронная ул). 

During the 1960s, the library inventory doubled to nearly 600,000 books, a library card system was created, and a card catalog was instituted.

The third location of the Central City Public Library (renamed the Nekrasov near Pushkinskaya Square at 20 Bolshaya Bronnaya  (Photo credit: Yuri Virovets) This file is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License (no changes made to original photo)

In late 2002, the Saltykova mansion began historic renovations, so the library was transferred to a former weaving factory (until 1990) and hotel (until 2002) at Baumanskaya Street, House No. 58/25, Building 14.  The Single Reading Card was introduced to enable readers to access information throughout the Moscow public library system via the OPAC-Global automated information system.  

Today, the library, now known as the Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library, functions as not only a library, but a cultural hub and teaching center for library services across Moscow.  The library is a member of the International Association of Metropolitan City Libraries (formerly INTAMEL) and participates in a number of international organizations and professional associations, including UNESCO, who on March 3, 2022, issued a statement (here) condemning Russia’s invasion and escalating violence in Ukraine.  In the statement, UNESCO demanded “the immediate cessation of attacks on civilian facilities, such as schools, universities, memorial sites, cultural and communication infrastructures, and deplores civilian casualties, including students, teachers, artists, scientists, and journalists. These include women and children, girls especially, disproportionately impacted by the conflict and displacement.”  

There are 306 libraries in 73 regions of Russia.

Current home of the Nekrasov Central Universal Scientific Library on Baumanskaya Street in Moscow, Photo credit:  googlemaps.com

Footnotes: 1 The English translation of Soviet is “council.” 

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