The Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences went through several periods of development, which, apart from general processes and activities, were marked by specific events, which never occurred in other times. The period from 1912 to 1931 was the time of the establishment of the Library; 1931 to 1940 were the years of the Wroblewski State Library; and 1941 to 2009, of the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
On September 29, 2009, the former name of Wroblewski was returned to the Library by the Presidium of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and upon the approval of the new regulations on November 24, 2009, the institution entered a new period – that of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.
The establishment of the Library, 1912–1931
The library was founded by the prominent lawyer, public figure and bibliophile Tadeusz Stanisław Wróblewski (Tadas Stanislovas Vrublevskis, *8 XI 1858–†3 VII 1925). His father was the doctor homeopathist Eustachy Wróblewski (Eustachijus Vrublevskis, *1826–†1891 VI 9), and his mother was Emilia Beniowska-Wróblewska (Emilija Beniovskytė-Vrublevska, *1830–†23 XII 1886). In 1891, after his father‘s death, Tadeusz Wróblewski returned to Vilnius, settled in the apartment of his parents in 9 Universiteto St. and lived there for the greater part of his life. A lawyer by profession, Wróblewski spent almost all his income on books, manuscripts, works of art, medals, coins and other collectibles; he was determined, should opportunity arise, to establish a public library based on his personal collections. Tadeusz Wróblewski inherited from his parents some books and manuscripts, enough to fill two bookcases. As early as before the First World War, he significantly expanded this collection, having acquired the libraries of Count Józef Plater, Józef Cechanowicz, Józef and Jan Weyssenhoff, and of Józef Bieliński, as well as some other private libraries and important personal collections. In 1912, Tadeusz Wróblewski‘s personal library counted about 65 000 volumes of books, 1 000 maps, about 5 000 manuscripts and autographs. Its valuable part consisted of documents from the history of Vilnius and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The library was kept in Wróblewski‘s apartment in 9 Universiteto St.
1912 signifies an essential change in the Library‘s history – the private library becomes public. On October 30 of the same year, the Statute of the earlier-founded Society of the Eustachy and Emilia Wroblewski Library (Towarzystwo „Biblioteka imienia Eustachiego i Emilii Wróblewskich“) was registered. The Society had been set up to manage the Wróblewski family‘s collections. On February 13, 1913, Tadeusz Wróblewski donated his library to this Society.
In 1912, Wróblewski allocated 42 000 roubles to purchase a plot in Mindaugas Street, where a new building was to be erected to house the Library. In 1914, he again allotted 40 000 roubles for the construction. World War I interfered with his plans to move the Library to the new location. Fortunately, its collections came to no harm during the war. Even more so, the collections were further increased, the stocks were systematically arranged, catalogued and inventoried.
After the war, Tadeusz Wróblewski not only renewed the activities of the Society, but also reorganized it as the Society of Eustachy and Emilia Wróblewski for Science Support (Towarzystwo Pomocy Naukowej im. E. i E. Wróblewski). On August 15, 1922, the Statute of the Society was confirmed. One of the first clauses stipulated a necessary condition for the functioning of the Library: “The Society’s residence will be in Vilnius and the Society’s collections may not be removed from Vilnius”.
In 1925, the stocks of the Library counted more than 80 000 volumes of books, 212 bookplates, 1 474 maps, 2 956 manuscripts, 10 534 engravings, pictures and other works of art.
Tadeusz Stanisław Wróblewski died on July 3, 1925. The Society continued to manage the affairs of the Library. On March 14, 1925, the Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Education of Poland purchased the Tyszkevicz Palace (Žygimantų St. 9) for the needs of Vilnius libraries. From 1926 to 1931, the Tyszkevicz Palace was being renovated and adapted to house the Library. At the same time (1928–1931), the Library’s staff, while few in number, were hard at work making the much-increased collection ready for the relocation. On December 9, 1931, the construction work was finished, and the building was handed over to the Directorate of the Library.
The Wroblewski State Library, 1931–1940
When the Library settled in the Palace, the work took on a form essentially unchanged to this day. Readers were serviced, various collections were put in order, the stocks of books, periodicals, manuscripts, works of art and other collectibles were accumulated. The library had two general stock departments – the Book Department and the Periodicals Department – which shared a reading room and holdings. In addition, there were a number of special departments such as Cimelia, Manuscripts, Graphics, Cartography and Art, of which each had its own holdings. The Library also housed the Museum, which included Vilnius Iconography and Masonica sections, the Founder’s Memorial Room, and some other objects.
From January 1, 1932 onward, the Library would receive deposit copies of regional press from four provinces: Vilnius, Białystok, Polesia and Nowogródek. This enabled the Library both to strengthen its role as an institution of regional historical memory and to add contemporary publications to the collections of the written heritage of old Lithuania acquired by Tadeusz Wróblewski.
On June 21, 1937, the Polish Ministry of Education confirmed the new Statute of the Wroblewski State Library.
In 1939, numerous culture institutions suffered significant damage when Vilnius was occupied by the Soviet Union – many valuable art and cultural objects were taken out to Russia. The Wroblewski State Library, too, did not escape losses. In October 1939, the Masonica, Albaruthenica, part of Lituanica collection of the 16th–18th centuries and the reference library for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were removed from the Library to Russia.
When the Soviet Union ceded Vilnius to Lithuania, the institutions of the Polish Ministry of Education were handed over to the Lithuanian Ministry of Education. On September 1, 1940, the Wroblewski State Library was transferred to the Institute of Lithuanian Studies (Lituanistikos institutas, established on September 1, 1938) which after a few days took over its holdings and property. These developments determined the change of the institution’s status and name: it became the Central Library of the Institute of Lithuanian Studies.
Despite having lost its former name for a long while, the Library never left its location: the collections remain in the former Tyszkiewicz Palace to this day.
The Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, 1941–2009
On January 16, 1941, the Institute of Lithuanian Studies was reorganized into the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR. The Library now became the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR.
In the storms of World War II, the Library’s activities were for a while interrupted. As of March 27, 1943, it was shut down by the German occupation authorities. Upon the liberation of Vilnius by the Soviet Army, the Library resumed its work: in the autumn of 1944, the reading room was reopened, while the catalogues and inventories were renewed in 1945. Since 1946, the Library has been receiving a deposit copy of Lithuanian publications; and from May of the same year, it would also get paid deposit copies of literature in a number of fields, published in the Soviet Union in Russian.
The Central Library was to provide every possible assistance to the institutions of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR in doing scientific research, to supply them with scientific literature and bibliographic publications, to propagate scientific literature of the Soviet Union and foreign countries, and to carry out scientific research and methodological studies in the fields of book science, bibliography, librarianship etc. Later, on September 21, 1960, these activities were defined in new regulations of the Library, approved by the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR. The regulations also determined the structure of the Library. At the time the latter consisted of the Department of Acquisition and Exchange; the Book Processing and Cataloguing Department; the Stock and Readers Service Department; the Reference Department; the Manuscript Department; the Department of Old, Rare and Cartographic Publications; Classified Holdings Department and Maintenance Department. Of them, several had been established before 1960. After 1965, a number of libraries in research institutes were turned into divisions of the Central Library. This structure, with small changes, remained effective until 2009 – the very end of the period.
At that time, the growth of the Library was rapidly increasing. This is reflected by all key indicators used to assess the performance of a scientific information institution. In 1941, the Library’s stock totaled 380 000 documents; in 1945, it ran into 500 000 documents; in 1960, it was 1 508 000 documents; and in 2009, 3 784 000 documents. In 1945, the Library serviced 67 readers; in 1960, this number grew to 2 300; and in 2009, to 9 595. The Library had several reading rooms such as the General Reading Room; Periodicals Reading Room; Manuscripts, Rare Books and Cartographic Publications Reading Room.
During this period, the most valuable part of the Library’s collections, which since Tadeusz Wróblewski‘s times has been made up by objects of the written heritage of Lithuania, also experienced some changes. It grew in size and scope, and expanded its thematic range. As early as before the German-Soviet War, some collections of inter-war institutions of Lithuania (the 29th territorial riflemen corps) and Vilnius region (the Evangelical Reformers Synod, the Belarusian Scientific Society, the Society of the Friends of Science, etc.) were given to the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR. As the library did not have time to take over the most valuable and abundant collections, a large part of them was destroyed during the war.
The libraries of the Evangelical Reformers Synod and of the Vilnius Society of the Friends of Science suffered the most damage – after the war, only scanty remains found their way to the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR.
The war losses were in part compensated by documents received at a later time. In 1946, the Lenin State Library returned part of the manuscripts, which had been removed from the Vilnius Public Library by the Tsarist government in 1915. At the same time, the Library took over many archival manuscripts, documents and books, collected during expeditions to the Königsberg region, which, in 1945–1946, had been organized by Prof. Povilas Pakarklis (*23 XI 1902–†28 VII 1955). In 1946, the Library received the manuscript collection of Lucjan Uziębło (*11 II 1864–†12 XII 1942); in 1951, the manuscript collection from the Šiauliai Aušra Museum. The Vilnius Capitula Archive, found in the Vilnius Archcathedral Basilica during repair works, was handed over to the Library in 1956. Further on, the Library continued to receive many valuable documents.
After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence on March 11, 1990, significant changes started to happen in the state and society. They affected both the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences and its Library. The changed nature of library work, new policies, goals and objectives were set out in new regulations of the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, confirmed by the Presidium of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences on February 15, 1994. Perhaps the most apparent sign of change became the dissolution of the Classified Holdings and the ensuing transformation of the stock, which lasted for a few years. These developments were accompanied by the establishment of several new departments. The Department of Old Periodicals and the Department of Library Automation were founded in 1991 and existed until 2010.
The final phase of the period is marked by important events that laid the groundwork for major transformations in the Library. On September 29, 2009, owing to the efforts of Director Dr. Juozas Marcinkevičius, the Presidium of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences returned to the Library the former name of Wróblewski. On November 24 of the same year, new regulations of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences were approved. Later on, structural, economic and other changes were initiated and launched, with a view that at the beginning of the second century, the Library would become one of the most advanced, convenient and significant cultural memory institutions in Lithuania.
Dr. Sigitas Narbutas