The first public library in Russia was arranged spontaneously among the book stalls on Red Square. It was in the 18th century. But the tradition was not formed, and this library sank into oblivion. That is why the National Library of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg is officially the oldest public library in the country. You don't recognize the name, do you? It is all about tradition – St. Petersburg residents call it Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library, Publichka. It was founded under Catherine the Great, but the reign of Paul flashed by, as well as Napoleon's invasion of twenty nations, and only on January 14, 1814 (Gregorian calendar), the Imperial Public Library was opened to the public. The library's collections include Ostromir Gospels of the 11th century, the most complete collection of Russian books, and even Voltaire's personal library. Once all this was available to everyone – the library was called public for a reason. Now the facade of the new glass-and-concrete building on Moskovsky Prospekt, which was opened, by the way, also on January 14, but in 2003, bears a golden inscription “Russian National Library.” But the traditions are alive.
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