RESEARCH LIBRARY of Tomsk State University

Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts

Head of the Office: Kirill A. Konev

Phone: (+73822) 78-51-09


Location: The Old Building of TSU Research Library

Historic reference

Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts holds rare and especially valuable publications, manuscripts, archival documents, graphic materials which all have scientific, historical and cultural significance. Under this Department, TSU established the Book Museum, which allows looking at monuments of book culture that are stored in the library.

The history of the Department is inextricably linked with the history of the establishment and development of the Library by the University’s founder Vasiliy M. Florinskiy. Florinskiy believed that "large and comprehensive library stocks are the important and the most solid basis of our spiritual development. Shame on a professor who is interested in events of our days and does not want to know thoughts and beliefs of predecessors." Count Strogonov's family library, which included 22,000 books, was the first part of the library stocks bought in 1880 in St. Petersburg. Since there were many rare books in this collection, Florinskiy decided to store all the collection in one piece but to place the especially valuable copies (about 500) in special showcases. Thus, already at that time the Library became a core for the future Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts.

In 1914 the Library received its own building, which was designed by the famed Siberian architect A.D. Kryuchkov. There was a special room equipped with showcases, which were used for exhibition of the old books. In 1920 by the decision of the Faculty of History and Philology the University established Cabinet of Graphic Arts under the supervision of Professor B.L. Bogaevskiy. The goal of this Cabinet was " attract attention to a book as a cultural monument of different countries and ages". In this Cabinet there were mainly some graphic works and albums with reproduced engravings from the Strogonov's collection. The Library also had to face the tragic moment of Russian history connected with the search and confiscation of museum and library treasures for export needs. In 1930 the Shock Brigade of People's Commissars confiscated 2,093 copies of book monuments, most of them from the Strogonov library. Having lost the most of its collection, the Cabinet was closed in 1930.

In 1938 the Library began systematic activities on restoration of a number of memorial library rooms, having great scientific and cultural significance, among them the poet Vasily Zhukovsky, a professor reviewer A.V. Nikitenko, an Irkutsk merchant A.A. Bald and others. Rare books and manuscripts, Count Strogonov's family collection, and a number of restored library rooms were allocated the 5th floor of the book depository. This place was meant to be used as a basis for further permanent expositions telling readers about book treasures of the Library. In 1939 the Library top management sent a request letter to the People's Commissariat for education for establishing a position of Head of Book Museum. The management tried to explain the importance of this position but the complex political and economic situation of that time did not allow implementing this plan.

The Department as an independent structural subdivision of the Library was established in 1945; a permanent exhibition of book history was opened soon after this establishment. Throughout the history of the Department, it has collected the unique fund of books including more than 100 thousand copies. The collection’s chronological boundaries are the end of the 12th to 21st centuries. The topic of storage of materials is universal. Materials are in Russian, in different European languages (French, German, English, Latin, Greek, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Polish and others) and in some Eastern languages (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and others). The collection includes manuscripts and printed books, magazines, newspapers, albums, leaflets, posters, post cards, photos, maps, music notes, paintings, prints, archival materials, and others.


For recent 10 years the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts has trained seven experts, who are successfully developing the following areas:

1. Scientifically justified development of management of the Department collection and its information stock
2. Ensuring safety of the documents
3. Readers service
4. Research activities
5. Tour and exhibit activities
6. Research and methodological activities

Structure of Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts:

  • Section of storage
  • Section of research


The stock of the Department consists of:

  • The stock of manuscripts and archival documents
  • The stock of thematic and chronological collections, and book collections:
    - Private book collections
    - Thematic and chronological collections
  • Reference collection