History of the Scientific Library
The Scientific Library of St.Petersburg University is one of the oldest and largest university libraries in Russia. It also serves as a monument of the national enlightenment, science and culture. By the richness and variety of its stock it ranks among the most prominent libraries of the world.
The basic stock of the library dates back to 1783, when Empress Catherine the Great presented the First Teachers Seminary with 1100 volumes from one of the private collection. Private donations have been supported the library throughout its whole history. Over 200 private collections of university professors and outstanding promoters of Russia science and culture are kept here.
The collection of books acquired by the library in the middle of the nineteenth century most certainly are is of great historical and documentary importance. It include books from the collection of Petersburg Censorship Committee ( 20 thousand books ) and the Committee of Foreigh Censorship ( about 10 thousand books ), the archive and the library of the Liberal Society of Russian Philologists, and also the library of the Bestuzhev Higher Courses for Women, which was the first higher education establishment for women in Russia.
The collection of rarities which numbers 100 thousand books includes a collection of 15-20th century editions as well as incunabules, paleotypes and books in old Cyrillic script. The collection of Oriental manuscripts ( about 50 thousand manuscripts ) kept in the Oriental Department of the library is unique.