— The Academic Library —
The Library was founded in 1818 as the basis of the Asiatic Museum (AM). It included the books transferred from the Kunstkamera and the Library of the Academy of Sciences (all in all more than 400 volumes) on history, philosophy, geography, religion, the languages of the countries of the East and related humanitarian disciplines. The first Director of the AM and, at the same time, its chief librarian was the well-known Arabist acad. Christian-Martin von Frähn (1782-1851). Later the Library of the AM became the largest storehouse of the academic literature on all aspects of Oriental studies. Originally the Library was replenished due to private donations, gifts of foreign and Russian scholars, and purchases of various collections of relevant books. There was also a practice of exchange of the books with foreign establishments and scholars.
Originally the AM was located at the left wing of the main building of the Academy of Sciences (Universitetskaya emb., 5), it then moved to an apartment on the Tamozhenny line, thence in 1930 to the building of the Library of the Academy and finally, in 1949, to the Novo-Mikhailovsky palace (Dvortsovaya emb., 18) where the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts remains until today.
In 1930 the Library already consisted of 500,000 items. Work continued throughout the war, and the Library was replenished with the private collections of T.I. Stcherbatsky, P.K. Kokovtsev, A.N. Samoilovich, K.A. Inostrantsev, A.E. Schmidt, etc. which contained valuable materials on Buddhology, Indology, Semitic studies, Turkology and other disciplines of Oriental studies. The Library was not greatly harmed during the war.
The Library now consists of the basic stock and separate collections of books and periodicals in Eastern languages, established according to region. Thus, there are Indian, Turkic, Arabic, Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Korean funds, collection of V.F. Minorsky, collection of the Маghreb lithographs, etc. The library keeps many descriptions of journeys to countries of the East undertaken by Russian and West-European travelers, among them such unique editions as those of Adam Olearius (1603-1671), Pietro della Valle (1576-1652), Armin Vamberi (1832-1917), Jean Chardin (1643-1713), Nikolay Przhevalsky (1839-), Vladimir Obruchev (1863-1956) and many others.
The index system of the library includes both catalogues and card files, with both Russian and foreign parts, the catalogue of periodicals, catalogues compiled according to region (continued until 1950).
In the recent years, especially in the 1970-80s the Library issued a number of the significant reference books reflecting literature on various aspects of Oriental studies such as “The Catalogue of the Hebrew Incunabula Kept in the Library”, “Oriental Studies as Represented in the Editions of the Academy of Sciences: 1726-1917”, etc.