Moscow library

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

I LOVE libraries! The rows and rows of old, musty books, each one, a whole new world and story.

One of the things I miss most about the U.S. is the community libraries. All you people living in the States – appreciate your local library!!! Is it not so amazing that you can just drive/walk down the road into a building where you can pick out just about any book that you want FOR FREE and even take it home with you??

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

Anyway, I’ve never actually attempted to visit Moscow’s famous state library (Biblioteka Imeni Lenina), so earlier this week I made a visit.

I went with two friends and we got our library cards. The library is right across from the Kremlin, and is totally great. Getting your library card only costs 100 rubles – less than a cup of coffee in central Moscow, and we found everyone at the library to be super helpful and friendly.

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

The system was a bit Soviet, not surprisingly. You’re not allowed to bring any books, cds or even professional cameras into the library. Nor are you actually allowed to take any books out of the building. Instead, after filling out a series of forms, you can take your book to a reading room with desks and computers and do all your studying there.

Library Entrance (2nd podezd, for fellow Muscovites wanting to pay a visit) photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

Using the gigantic card catalogue (photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov -

One of the reading rooms (photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov -

photo by Ilya Varlamov (

I found the reading rooms to be a bit stuffy – they were pretty crowded and a bit hot when we were there, but I guess it’s a pretty good place to study – not too many distractions. Also, the library staff were incredibly helpful and sweet. Mostly elderly ladies who have mastered the art of communicating in whispers. The ladies who helped us find some books were really kind, if overly enthusiastic about having people check out their books.

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

The books, on the other hand, weren’t overly helpful. I’m working on a writing project, so we all checked out a few books for fun and also to see if we couldn’t find any sources for my project. Everything we got our hands on was written between 1950-1980 and every chapter seemed to start with disingenuous praise to Soviet leaders and the glorious revolution.

Lenin reading a book - photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

photo by blogger Ilya Varlamov (

I didn’t take any photos while I was there, but this Russian blogger has done a really great photo tour of Biblioteka Imeni Lenina (all the photo’s in this post are from his collection).

Do you love libraries? Do you have a favorite one? What’s your favorite part of the library? Have you been reading any good books lately?

P.S. A great soundtrack for studying/working on stuff…

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7 Responses to Moscow library

  1. Anastasia says:

    Lenin is still in the name? That’s interesting… Love this post (with not your photos and your commentary) – I think I even got a smell of library through it…

    By the way, the shot of the reading room reminds me of “Moscow doesn’t believe in tears”, too bad there were no photos of the smoking room – the perfect place to pick up a guy!

    • Anastasia, yes, Lenin is still in the name – and it’s also still the name of the near by metro stop. I’ve seen “Москва Слезам не Верит” once – i’ll have to watch it again and look for the smoking room! 🙂

  2. Phyllis says:

    We have the most wonderful little children’s library here. They treat Jaan like a king. He sits at a table and both ladies run back and forth, bringing him books to choose from. 🙂

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