The library’s book collection is one of the largest in Siberia and Far East with approximately 3 million items in Russian and other foreign languages. The library welcomes around 50 000 visitors annually, among them teachers, researchers, and students of ISU and other institutions of higher education. There are 11 lending library branches with academic, research, non-fiction, and fiction material, 14 reading halls with academic and reference materials, information center, the department of book-studies and cultural-historical education, in addition to other divisions and services.
The “golden” collection consists of many rare books and manuscripts.The division of Russian literature contains many old publications dating from the era of Peter the Great and rarebooks from the 18th and 19th centuries, including items from the collection of the Decembrists and the patron of the libraryV. N. Basnin and N. S. Romanov, among others. Unique exemplars dating from theRenaissance can be found in the department of old books and manuscripts in foreign languages. Among the bibliographic rarities in the collection there can be found Siberian journals dated back to 1775. The collection of pre-revolutionary Siberian newspapers is the largest in all of Siberia.
The university library was founded when the university was established, but the rare-book and manuscript collection and some other materials originated from the collection of the merchant V.N. Basnin with the following notation: “For the library of the Irkutsk university.” This was still before the October Revolution of 1917. In 1918 when the university was formally founded the majority of the collection came with professors from the university in Kazan. In 1920 the collection was enlarged due to the nationalization of seminaries, women’s institutes, male gymnasiums, and other formerly private educational institutions, which is how books from the Decembrists came to be found in the university library collection after having been at one time given to religious seminaries. In the rare-book collection there are books from the collection of the Decembrists Lunin, Trubetskoj, and others.
The library is a partner in several projects that create a national digital database allowing students to access many books digitally from their homes. While preserving and expanding the library’s collections, the library offers a wide array of electronic resources that we create ourselves. We have come a long way since the first digitalization at the beginning of the 2000s, having now created such electronic resources as “The Scientific Articles of ISU Researchers”, “Irkutsk Diocesan Bulletin”, “Prerevolutionary Periodical Publications”, “The Museum of Eastern Literature”, and the publication of the East-Siberian Branch of the Russian Geologic Association.
At present, a new building to host the University Library is under construction. In the new building there will be available new services that are already in practice in other libraries throughout the world. We would like to enlarge library’s functions and turn it into the cultural center. We would like to create a library where visitors can not only find information, but also take a rest, have a bite to eat, attend a lecture, or watch a film or concert. In the new library there will be halls and individual study rooms for university researchers and other facilities.