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Network of Libraries of Arkhangelsk Region: an overview

Internship in Arkhangelsk Regional Scientific Library
Participant: Aud Taga, Library Consultant, Troms County Library
(Arkhangelsk, 20-24.04.2009)

Arkhangelsk Region. Arkhangelsk Region is located in the North of European part of Russia. The Arkhangelsk Region has a territory of 587 thousand square km.

The administrative center is Arkhangelsk. The largest cities are: Severodvinsk, Kotlas, Novodvinsk, Koryazhma, Mirniyi. There are 19 municipal districts altogether.

1.3 million people live here (the urban population is about 1 million people). National composition of population of the Arkhangelsk Region is relatively homogeneous (94.2% of Russians). The average age of the population is 37 years of old.

The territory is very rich in natural resources: oil and bauxite are being extracted in industrial volumes; gas and diamonds deposins are being prospected; huge resources of dolomite, limestone, gypsum, stone are known to be here.

The Arkhangelsk Region is a land of timber industry, fishing industry, shipbuilding, and modern Russian astronautics.

There are more than 24 thousand enterprises and organizations.

Economic development in the most traditional branches of enterprises based on the lumber industry, construction industry and a developed infrastructure, commercial ports, including Arkhangelsk sea port, which is the northern gate of Russia provides a significant portion of freight traffic in the region.

The scientific potential of our region is formatd of several scientific and research institutions, among them are Northern branch of the Polar Research Institute of Fishary and Oceanography, the Arkhangelsk Institute of Ecological Problams of the North and others.

Education system consists of 21 higher special institutions, 28 secondary special institutions and about 400 schools. The Pomor State University, the Arkhangelsk State Technical University, the North State Medical University.


The history of library in the Arkhangelsk Region goes back several centuries. The first libraries on the territory of the Region belonged to monasteries. In the XVI-XVII centuries Solovetsky, Antoniyevo-Siysky, Nikoio-Karelsky, Krasnogorsky monasteries owned greatest collections of handwritten and first printed books. At the same time, peasant family libraries were formed and passed down from generation to generation. They included the books for church service, the spiritual literature and the books of the secular content, training manuals, legal documents.

The first public libraries were opened in Arkhangelsk at the beginning of the XIX century; they were the Guberniya public library (1833) and a small library belonging to the port (1842). In the 1870s a network of people's libraries appeared, belonging to the district ('volost') governments and to schools. Five of these libraries still working in Velsk, Krasnoborsk, Kholmogory, Yarensk, and Cherevkovo, the latter being a branch library. By 1916 there were 144 libraries in the Arkhangelsk Region.

In the years of Soviet power libraries were not just cultural and educational institutions, but became the promoters of communist ideology in the first place. After 1918 the number of libraries kept growing (except during the war in 1941Ц1945). State authority created public libraries. On the eve of the 1920-30's the libraries of higher special institutions (teaching, Forestry and medical institutions) were formed. In the 1950s the Arkhangelsk College of Culture was opened for educating and training librarians, also the inter-library exchange system was created. In the 1970s the state and trade unions' libraries were centralised. 20 district and city systems were formed. To manage the centralised acquisition of books there appeared the Regional Book Collector. Librarians were trained at the Courses of Training of Cultural Workers.

In 1990 724 public libraries functioned in the Region (533 of them were state-owned) with the total book collection consists of 14 099 thousand copies, more than 600 libraries belonged to the educational institutions and more than 60 technical and specialised libraries were in use.

The beginning of the 1990s marked by political and economical reforms in our country saw the changes in the library system of the Region.


Today Arkhangelsk Region library Network consists of:

Ц  3 state region public libraries (the Regional Scientific Library named after N.A.Dobrolyubov, the Regional Childrens' Library named after A.P.Gaidar, the Regional Library for Blind;

Ц  1 branch library Ц Region Medical Library;

Ц  more then 500 municipal libraries (including more then 40 childrens' libraries, more then 400 rural libraries);

Ц  about 400 school libraries;

Ц  more then 30 libraries of institutions of primary special education;

Ц  about 50 libraries of higher and secondary institutions (the largest of these libraries are scientific libraries of Pomor State University, Northern State Medical University, Arkhangelsk State Technical University);

Ц  about 20 special and scientific libraries of scientific institutions, museums, industrial enterprises;

Ц  about 20 trade unions' libraries and libraries of other community organizations;

Ц  libraries of military units, hospitals, correctional institutions.


The Arkhangelsk Region public library system today

The network of state and municipal public libraries is the framework for library network of the Arkhangelsk Region. The Arkhangelsk Region public libraries remain the most accessible institutions. They continue to evolve as information, educational and cultural centers.

The main purpose of public libraries activities is to organize access to information to meet the informational, educational and cultural needs of the population.

The priorities of the municipal libraries of the area are:

Ц  improvement of library services;

Ц  development of the libraries resource;

Ц  introduction of information and communication technologies;

Ц  create of a unified library space in the region.

The directions that our libraries actively follow in their activities are as follows:

Ц  to help the process of continuous education which means to arrange all kinds of courses and schools of supplementary education and creativity deнvelopment;

Ц  to restore the spiritual traditions and crafts of the Russian people, to establish and maintain high moral principles and infuse courage which have originated in the depths of time in the national character;

Ц  to educate people ecologically, to form the outlook and behaviour of man which would be consciously aimed at environmental protection, at preнserving the world around us;

Ц  to organize people's leisure using such diverse forms as hobby groups, literary salons, quizzes, games, celebration parties etc.

The role of the Arkhangelsk Region libraries in retaining the cultural heritage, in systematizing and storing the information on regional studies is great. Librarians here write a chronicle of their motherland with true love, making files on certain topics, albums, stands and even museum exhibiнtions of a smaller scale, which could become the core of a real museum.



Federal laws лAbout the Librarianship╗ and лOn Obligatory Copy of Documents╗, adopted in 1994, regulate the activities of the library in our country. They are the first library laws in the history of Russia.

Federal law лAbout the Librarianship╗ defines principles of the library activities, regulate general questions of librarianship, the relations between government, citizens, enterprises, institutions and organizations in the field of librarianship.

Principles of Russian libraries are:

Ц  Free of basic library services;

Ц  Focus on the needs of users;

Ц  Networking of libraries in the creation and use of resources;

Ц  Development of social partnership with governments, culture and education institutions, local community.


Many other federal laws also regulate the Russian libraries activities in field of opening of libraries and developing of library network, providing and ensuring the quality of library services, creating of information resources and their provising to users, business and finance of libraries, library cooperation and management.

Two regional library laws regulate libraries activities in the Arkhangelsk Region: Regional Law лOn Obligatory Copy of Arkhangelsk Region Documents╗ adopted in 2003 and Regional Law лOn Libraries and Librarianship in the Arkhangelsk Region╗, adopted in 2005. They are based on the provisions of federal laws, but also they specify and complement federal laws in the light of regional situation.

In 2007 the model standard of municipal public libraries activities was adopted by the Arkhangelsk Region governmental authorities. It establishes basic provisions, principles, the minimum standards to ensure good work of municipal public libraries.

The standard is based on factors that have an important influence on the regional library situation, and can be used as a guide for municipal public libraries and the municipal authorities of the Arkhangelsk Region to organize an effective system of library services to the population of the Arkhangelsk Region.


Organizing of Library and Information Services

Today 505 municipal public libraries conduct library and information services to the population of the Arkhangelsk Region. There are 413 libraries of them in rural areas.

39 special children's libraries, including 14 - in rural areas implement Library services for children and adolescents in the Arkhangelsk Region.

There are many inhabitants settlement which has small Libraries, and in several of these the chief may be the only one person working.

The process of restructuring and optimizing the library network is happening in the Arkhangelsk Region. Rural libraries are closed due to a great reduction in the number of population in rural communities and lack of finance for the small libraries. Book Collections of these libraries provide to other libraries, and library service is organized by the nearby libraries in the li brary locations. To reduce the cost of libraries, the association of public and children's libraries occupied in the same building, is happening.

In 2006 the Federal Law лOn General Principles of Local Self-Government in the Russian FederationФ was adopted. Restructuring of the library network has started after the event. Now we have a motley picture of library network.

There are 10 municipal districts in which all the municipal public library of district were united into one cultural institution, which is called лA Library System╗ or лIntersettlement Library╗. A founder of this institution Ц a municipal district. A main source of funding is a district budget. Its organizational structure includes a central library and branches (structural units). The Central Library completes a total library collection, organizes reference and bibliography services, consulting for librarians.

5 districts have library systems that integrate only a portion of the public libraries. These systems also were funded from the district budget. Some libraries are transferred to the ownership and property of municipal settlements. They remained separate institutions or were included in other cultural institutions.

2 municipal districts transferred all libraries to individual settlements. Each district has its variant of library network organization. The first variant: leaders of Settlements which have several libraries unit them in the library systems. A district has some library systems. The second variant: some leaders of Settlements unit libraries in the li brary systems, but some leaders of Settlements transfer Libraries into other cultural institutions.

There are districts where all the library transferred to the settlements, but one library is left in charge of the district. It's called Intersettlement Library and is funded from the district budget. Leaders of settlements contract with administrations of municipality district on the transfer of authority to the organization of library services and provide the necessary funding. Intersettlement Library makes monitoring of the library network and library activities, collects information for state statistical reports, acquires total library collection, organizes the records and the use it, organizes reference bibliographic services, consulting for librarians. Settlement Libraries use Intersettlement library collection on Rights of operational management.

There are districts where Intersettlement Library makes its functions contracting on Library services with the settlement authorities.

There are districts where all the library transferred to the settlements but Intersettlement Library doesnТt make its functions. Settlement Libraries lose communication with the center library resources and are in professional isolation. This negatively affects the quality of library services, prevents the organization of an effective system of management and training of librarians. Municipal public libraries of large cities are united in a centralized library system.


Information resources of municipal public libraries

Information resources of municipal public libraries include:

Ц  Library collections,

Ц  Electronic resources, creating libraries (Electronic catalogs and databases, library sites),

Ц  Database аcreated other information agencies and provided for local use in the library,

Ц  Internet Resources.


Library collections

Total Arkhangelsk Region municipal public libraries collection is more than 6.5 million documents. Each inhabitant of Arkhangelsk Region has 5.4 library books. In 2008 number of new books is 270.9 thousand copies. (4% of total collection), the number of documents denied from collection is 386.7 thousand copies (5.8% of total stock). Publications represent 99% of total new books.

Unfortunately, the collections contain many outdated books and still can not meet existing needs in the new popular science and reference books, special literature, books for children and teenЦagers.

Traditional sources of municipal library collections acquisition are a central and local bookselling companies, publishing houses, post offices and the Arkhangelsk Regional Library named after N.A. Dobrolyubov. Books sent as a gift also make up a large proportion of new books acquired for library collections.

Libraries have problems of library collections acquisition.

Ц  Libraries havenТt deficient and unstable funding the cost of acquisition.

Ц  Introduction of new mechanisms for the legal regulation of economic activities that do not take into account the characteristics of library collections acquisition and the lack of instruction for librarians.

Ц  Destruction of the centralized acquisition of settlement libraries through the central district libraries (small libraries which are not united in a centralized library system havenТt without the necessary funding, because the settlement budget has no funds for the acquisition of collections).

Ц  Many Libraries havenТt modern computer and copying equipment, necessary technological opportunities for the use of modern means of communication impede the introduction of new, more effective methods of acquisition, reduce the speed and quality of formation of library collections and organization of users' access to new publications.

аTechnical, technological and organizational problems hinder the effective management of library development and region information resources.


Databases of other information services

Library Information Resources include not only Library collections of difficult documents in a variety of media, and also databases provided by other information agencies and stored on servers or available on-line. For example, this is a database of legal information.


Resources created by the libraries

At first these are bibliographical resources. They are the traditional resources to create libraries. Library catalogs are most popular of them. All libraries have card alphabetic and systematic catalogs.

Electronic catalogs are created in half of center municipal districts libraries and all center towns libraries. The total volume of electronic catalogs municipal libraries consists of 172.8 thousand of records. Electronic catalog of only one city library system is presented in the Internet.

Most of the central libraries of cities and districts create electronic catalogs of library materials about their cities and districts. The largest of them has over 10 thousand bibliographic records.

Libraries account bibliographic indexes, mainly reflecting the literature on the province, such as: УLiterature about a district (town, village)Ф, indexes on famous countrymen or establishments (enterprises) significant for their territory.

In addition, the library professionals gather factual and pictorial materials on their territories; write chronicles their settlements, design albums; publish books and monographs on their district (town, village).

In 2008, one of the municipal systems has started to form an electronic library on its district.

6 municipal library systems of the Arkhangelsk Region have web sites that provide information about the libraries, study of local lore information.


Library staff

Over a thousand and a half people are employed in the Arkhangelsk Region municipal libraries including 1056 library professionals. Only a third part of the library professionals are in higher education. Half of library professionals have a special library education. Number of people with library education is decreasing.

More than a quarter of Arkhangelsk Region librarians have pensioner age.

New stuff coming to the municipal public library has not special education and do not wish to receive it.

Low salaries make our profession is not attractive to young people. There are not enough specialists to bibliographies and Methodists in municipal public libraries.

Regional library education system includes the Arkhangelsk College of Culture and Arkhangelsk branch of the St. Petersburg University of Culture and the Arts.

The system of further professional education for municipal public libraries consists of 3 levels: regional, district and outside the Region.

The Regional Scientific Library named after N.A.Dobrolyubov, the Regional Childrens' Library named after A.P.Gaidar, the Regional Center of Further Professional Education of Culture Specialists conduct educational activities at the regional level. Leader is the Regional Scientific Library named after N.A.Dobrolyubov. Library managers are a primary group for the training.

At the local level, the central library of districts and cities organize workshops for other professionals. The main topics of educational is collaboration of libraries with the local authorities, library work with families, children and youth, promoting books and reading, organization of project activities, etc. Increasing computer literacy is one of those teaching librarians

Differentiated system of training is formed in libraries. The work is conducted in three lines: basic knowledge for new staff without special education, maintenance of basic knowledge of a contingent of professionals, to provide information to managers.

Arkhangelsk Region librarians rarely participate in professional meetings outside our region. Only specialists of municipal libraries of Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk and Mirniyi constantly participate in annual conferences of the Russian Library Association. Some Training programs have been organized for library Professionals and managers in federal education centers and even abroad. For example, in 2007, a group of directors of libraries committed professional tour in Finland, in 2008 librarians one of city went to China.


The material and technical base

The material and technical base is bed. Most libraries are located in adapted premises. Buildings of several dozen of libraries require major repairs. The premises of some libraries do not meet the sanitary standards.

Only 3 libraries have buses (cars). 25% of municipal libraries have copiers. Not all libraries have a telephone connection. Libraries do not have sufficient funds for the purchase of furniture and a modern library, computer and telecommunication equipment.

Computerized libraries comprise 36.2%. There are Most of them in cities. Two libraries have local area network. 14.1% of municipal library has Internet access.


Each year, more than 400 thousand people are treated the services of municipal public libraries, 144.7 thousand of them live in rural areas, 233.5 thousand children and youth. They visit the library more than 3 million times and borrowed more than 9.6 million books.

Interlibrary loan has an important place in the user services of municipal libraries. Interlibrary loan system allows every inhabitant of the Region to get information, using collection not only for his libraries, and other region libraries and outside. The Regional Scientific Library named after N.A.Dobrolyubov is a regional center of the interlibrary loan system. Only 61 municipal libraries employed interlibrary loan system. This is due primarily to the high cost of postage, which are paid by users of municipal libraries.

Municipal libraries are using the technology for electronic document delivery service users.

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