The Russian State Library (up to 1992 – The State Lenin Library of the USSR) has many times been mentioned by the Guinness Book of Records as the most distinguished in Europe and the second biggest in the world after the USA Congress Library.
It’s considered to be founded in 1828, when the order of the emperor Nikolay I gave it a status of a state institution as a component part of Roumiantsevskii Museum. Afterwards (namely, in 1862) it moved to Moscow and became one of the greatest libraries in Russia.
Beginning with 1918 (when the Russian government established its new location in Moscow), the main library of the state has been realizing a unique in topics and priority service of the needs of the Russian Government, in effective collaboration with other information institutions.
The mission of the RSL is to collect, to store and to provide the society with access to the unique funds of the documents which reflect the knowledge of all mankind, and which do, first and foremost, concern Russia and its national interests.
The national essence of the activity of the RSL is emphasized by its statuses:
— The Component Part of the State Archives Funds for Manuscript Heritage (from 1918);
— The State Documents Depository (from 1921);
— The Chief Library of the USSR (from 1922);
— The Central State Library of the Armed Forces (from 1929);
— The Educational Institution (from 1932);
— The All – Russian (before 1992 – The All – Union) Centre of Dissertations on all Subjects except for Medicine and Pharmacy (from 1944);
— The Central Branch Organ of Scientific Information for Culture and Art (from 1972);
— The National Centre of the Inter – Library Loan System and Documents’ Delievery
— The Depositary. In its funds it stores national publications as well as the documents of numerous international organizations, among which there are the UN, UNESCO, the European Union, the World Bank and other centres of international cooperation. More than forty international organizations have been sending here their documents free of charge (from the middle of the twentieth century).
The RSL as a national library, which also possesses a status of a scientific institution, guarantees, as well, the informational security of the state by collecting and granting users’ requests with reliable information only.
It was the first among Russia’s federal libraries to create the centre of the legal information in 1998, making accessible the latest programme law products of the leading state and commercial structures, with the latter being updated weekly.
In the twenty – first century the library has focused its attention on:
— the further improvement of work of the All – Russian Network of Public Centres of Legal Information (PTPI/ARNPCLI) – representing the federal methodological centre of this sphere;
— the expansion of the national digital library based on the concept worked out by the RSL and accepted in 2004. To promote the project, in 2005 the RSL initiated the Russian Association of Digital Libraries (ELBY/RADL);
— the development of the project of the Digital Dissertations Library, in the framework of which during the last ten years the RSL has opened its virtual reading halls in almost all regions of the RF states of the CIS, etc. This was one of the brightest examples of the impact made by the RSL to the progress in information economics and to the decrease in information inequality.
It should also be pointed out that this experience of servicing people of the regions of the RF became quite a vivid example of the attention of the RSL towards information needs of the citizens of Russia, and of the accomplished mission of the national library.