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 History of the Library

History of the Library

The history of the 'Gogol House' Memorial Centre may be traced back to 1923 when the Mobile Library appeared at the Commissariat for Education, under the special supervision of Lenin's wife Nadezhda Krupskaya. Since then, it has been constantly changing and improving to fit the altering conditions and objectives. Here are some dates from the institution's development:

1923. The Mobile Library was established at the Commissariat for Education for public propaganda and enlightenment purposes.

1926. The Library went under the control of the State Publishing House.

The Library's chief task at the time was door-to-door delivery of books to people's homes and work places. Specifically trained carriers served 6,000 readers daily, and the Library's total client base reached about 20,000 people. The staff varied between 23 and 40 people and, the personnel sorely lacking, the Library applied to the Artel of the Unemployed. In 18 months 120 agents came and went, but the difficulties persisted as the Library only lived on book deliveries.

1927. The Library was closed and sold to the Away with Illiteracy society. It was still chiefly focused on delivering books to undereducated workers in plants and factories, to 'red corners' (specific educational and propaganda places found at every Soviet institution), etc.

1931. The Library was given to the Healthy Housekeeping society, with little impact on its key activity.

1933. The Healthy Housekeeping society merged with the Moscow Committee of the Red Cross Working Society, with the Library becoming the Research and Fiction Library of the Moscow Red Cross Society. This gave an even stronger humanitarian drift to its work. By that time it had a lending and a mobile section and a substantial fund of about 10,000 books.

1941–1945. The war dealt an immense blow to the Library, but its workers continued to bring knowledge and mercy to everyone in need. The librarians travelled to the military units, air defense troops and hospitals working as nurses, carrying books to the wounded, and writing letters to their families. In 1942, duplicate books in the fund were assembled into small collections for hospitals, sanatoria and centres for the handicapped.

1956. The Library was handed over to the Culture Direction at the Moscow City Executive Committee and turned into Moscow City Public Library No 130. Its financing came now from the city budget, but the mobile division operated on a self-supporting basis. The paid service of door-to-door book delivery was only discontinued in 1969 though handicapped clients were always served for free. By then, the Library already had 42,685 books.

1961. The Library's number changed from 130 to 2, with it becoming the second most important library in Moscow.

1971. The Library moved to the historic mansion of the 18th-19th centuries where it remains.

1974. The Museum was opened at the Library's ground floor – Gogol's Memorial Rooms, restoring his drawing-room and cabinet based on contemporaries' memoirs.

1979. City Library No 2 was given the name of Nikolai Gogol. By then, it had 180,530 items in its fund and 15,220 readers, with lent books reaching 350 000 copies – compared to 160,000 items, 6800 readers and 154,000 lent books in 1973.

2003. The Library celebrated its 80th anniversary.

2005. Gogol City Library No 2 was transformed into Central City Library – Memorial Centre 'Gogol House' combining a research library of over 250 000 volumes, a research centre, an exhibition hall, and a memorial museum.