In September 1830, during one of the meetings with Grodno Governor General, the decision was made to establish a library in Grodno. It became the first public library in the contemporary territory of Belarus.
The donations of the city elite became the basis of its collections. Access to the library documents was opened only to a small category of persons, including officials, nobility and landowners. For a long time library did not have its own building, the collections were barely replenished, there was no support from the state. In order to improve the state of the institution, the employees of the city in 1859 donated 1% of their earnings at the proposal of the Governor. The library subscribed to periodicals and purchased several dozen books.
In 1865, the Ministry of Internal Affairs adopted the charter of the library, and from 1877 government subsidies started to come. The administration of the library included the director of Grodno All-Boys School Secondary and the rector of the local spiritual seminary. It is remarkable, that the fate of the famous Belarusian poet Maksim Bogdanovich's father was connected with the library. A. E. Bogdanovich, scientist, teacher, public worker, headed the administration in 1892–1895. E.F. Orlovsky, Grodno historian, teacher, local history expert, also actively participated in the life of the library.
After the establishment in 1920 of the Soviet regime, the library combined the collections of many liquidated establishments. Valuable books and the manuscripts taken from private libraries were also transferred there. The library was opened for the wide public on May 1, 1940, and the books could be borrowed for free. Document collection increased to 35 thousand copies, and the number of readers reached 4 thousand.
The majority of documents was forever lost in the years of World War II, and only a small part of the collections was preserved due to the library employee M.A. Chervyakovsky. Nevertheless, the library resumed its work on the tenth day after the liberation of the city. Despite the severe conditions, the books were lent out, the reading hall was constantly crowded. The library gained authority each year. In 1957, it was named after E.F. Karsky, first Belarusian academician, the founder of the Belarusian linguistics and philology, a native of the Grodno region.
Today the regional scientific library is the leading information and socio-cultural centre, the leader of library policy in the Grodno region. More than 40 thousand users turn to the universal collection, comprised of more than 600 thousand copies documents in different formats and to electronic information resources. Furthermore, are given access to world EIR through the Virtual Reading Room of the National Library of Belarus.
The library successfully functions as a systematic and scientific research centre of the region. The staff was repeatedly awarded certificates and diplomas for the diligent and creative work, and in 2008, it became the prize winner of a special award of the President of the Republic Belarus “For the Spiritual Revival”. Ya. F. Karsky Grodno Regional Scientific Library continues to be one of the most important parts of the library system of the country, carrying out the noble mission of enrichment of the intellectual potential of the nation.
The information about the library and about the documents dedicated to it can be found in different information resources of the National Library (factual database “Belarus in Persons and Events”, E-Catalogue and others). Materials to the previous anniversaries of the main library establishment of Grodno region were published on the pages of the bibliographical bulletin “New Books: Through the Pages of the Belarusian Printing” (2000, No. 1; 2005, No. 5)
Bibliology Research Department