Manuscript Division of the Russian National Library
- Location and Contact Details
Address: pl. Ostrovskogo d. 1/3
The manuscript department is in the main Publichka building. Having entered the Publichka, turn to the right and follow an unassuming-looking corridor round until you come to the bottom of a large staircase. There are glass doors by the staircase. Go through them, then the doors on the left lead through the department of prints to the manuscript department. There is a sign on the door, but you still need to go down another corridor to the next door. If you get the impression that this cannot possibly be the right way and you’ve found the fire exit or an old unused part of the building, you’re probably going the right way.
Metro: Gostinyi dvor
Phone: (812) 312-28-63
Library Director: Anton Vladimirovich Likhomanov
Head of manuscripts department: Marina Iur’evna Liubimova
Opening Hours: The opening hours vary according to the time of year. See the website for details: http://www.nlr.ru/ser/inv/hours.htm#manus
The sanitarnyi den’ is the last Tuesday of each month.
- How to Register
You will first need a library card for the RNB per se. Obtain one by filling in a form, which you find on a table on the left after you enter the library (the garderob is on your right). Present this form, your passport and your letter to the ladies in the cubicles near the table. There is no obvious system of queuing, and they may tell you to go to the other cubicle. They enter the information from your form into the computer, take your picture and print your library card. You can then immediately enter the library through the turnstile. Present your card to the guard, swipe in and receive a kontrol’nyi listok (which is needed for putting stamps on and which you must hand back to the security guard upon exiting the library – do NOT lose it). If you are taking a laptop in with you, you must first get the requisite stamp. Go upstairs to the first floor, enter the foyer to your right, fill in a form, which you will find on the round table. Be sure only to fill in the number of your library card where it asks you to – putting the initial two letters ИН (which mark you out as a foreigner) as well incurs the wrath and/or ridicule of the woman sitting at a desk in the corner, to whom you must now present the form and your kontrol’nyi listok in order to receive the stamp. Stamp received, you go back to the ground floor and register in the manuscript department reading room. You will need a letter from your supervisor addressed to the head of the library, your library card, and of course your kontrol’nyi listok which will be stamped again. The archivists keep the listok and your card until you leave the manuscript department.
- How to Order Material
You should fill in one order form per manuscript. Orders will arrive after 1500 the next day, and the maximum order is 5 items.
- Reading Room Practices, General Hints and Tips
Mobile phones should be on silent. There are lamps, and sockets for laptops. The reading room is generally not particularly quiet. Researchers have conversations, phones are more often than not not on silent, and in summer the windows are open to let in the noise from Nevskii prospect traffic and buskers. The archivists tend to disappear into a back room for long periods. The normal practice is to loiter near the desk and look at the book displays, and eventually someone will come back. They are friendly and helpful, and used to foreign newcomers. When you receive your documents you must record them in a book. The book entries are numbered, and you must write this number on the white slip attached to the cover of this document. There is both a bufet and a stolovaia in the library. In the summer only the buffet is open, so you may want to leave the library to eat. There are many places on Nevskii prospect. The toilets in RNB are fairly dirty and you need to bring your own toilet paper.
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