The history of the Scientific and Technical Library: the stages of development, facts and personalities

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of libraries for any educational institution.  Some hotheads trying to prove that the Internet can easily replace the library and that for our contemporaries the collection of books is a rudimentary element of the information field. They also believe that there will be no place for libraries in the computerized society. But there is, however, another point of view – the library will remain as an integral part of the society structure, but it will have a different form and functions. The word «library» will not merely be associated with the «hikes behind the textbooks», but it will be associated with the words «self-development», «self-improvement», «academic degree», «scientific discoveries», «the Nobel Prize». As stated by American philosopher Alan Carter «Library is the heart of the University; there is no other (institutional) factor at the University, which would has such an impact on the quality of education of postgraduates and researchers, as the library has». The scientists who devoted a lot of time working in the library, while talking about their achievements, would have every right to quote I. Newton: «If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants».

The library of the Kharkov Technological Institute was opened on September 15. It was the first technical library in in the south of Russia. V. L. Kirpichev, the director of KhTI, stressed the importance of the Institute's library: «If the engineer is assigned the mission to carry out any task, he, first of all, looks for information about it in the literature, that’s why the library, which is gradually creating at the Institute, will be one of most important helpers for our industry».

The unique private library of academician and electrical engineer B. S. Jacobi, which was brought on the occasion of the opening of the Institute at the urging of the director of KhTI V. L. Kirpichev, became the groundwork for the establishment of the Institute's library. The value of the collection of 2111 copies was in the fact that it contained rare publications on applied mechanics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, metallurgy, structural mechanics and chemical industry. It has provided a valuable core of the book fund of technical library. The presence of rare books, a large number of autographs of famous scientists of the XIX century P. N. Fuss, K. Baer, M. Faraday, W. Grove, D. Brewster, V. Struve, J. Henry, C. Jacobi, L. Foucault et al.) made this collection unique. Honored Worker of Science and Technology, popularizer of the history of science, Professor, a 1919 graduate of KhTI, Lev Davidovich Belkind, who used the books of B. S. Jacobi's collection while studying at the institute, noted that it contains valuable books which are absent in any library of the Soviet Union. A significant part of publications from this collection is kept in STL today.

In 1885 «The Provision on the Kharkov Practical Technological Institute» was adopted. Under this Provision, the library was under direct responsibility of the Education Committee, and only one staff member worked at it. The first Head of the library of KhTI was Pyotr Alekseyevich Bessonov, the famous Slavist and publisher of folk works, Professor of Slavic Studies Department of the Kharkov University, full member of the «Society of Zealots of Russian historical education», honorable vice-president of the North American scientific and administrative congresses. Professor pluralistically headed the Institute library in the first half of 1886. He stocked the library, drawing on the recommendations of faculty members of KhTI.

In 1885 the complete sets of magazines «Crelle's Journal», «Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik», «Engineering», encyclopedias and chemical lexicons by Würtz, Frémy, Graham-Otto, Beilstein, Gmelin-Kraut et al. were first acquired for the library fund. They served as a starting point for evolutionary development of the library, its systematic restocking.

The first librarian, at the personal request of the trustee of the Kharkiv school district, (since June 1885), and then the Head of the KhTI library (the 1st half of 1886) was Petro Oleksiiovych Bezsonov, a famous Slavist and a publisher of folk literature, Professor of the Department of Slavic dialects of the Kharkiv University.

The second librarian is the collegiate councillor Makariy Lukich Semenchinov. He dedicated his life to the service of the Institute and the library. For 30 years, he was the only one who has stocked the library fund, has systematized and has catalogued it, has carried out reference and bibliographic work and has served readers. Semenchinov was awarded with the Order of St. Stanislaus of the 2nd degree and the Order of St. Anna of the 3rd degree in recognition of his excellent, hard work and distinctive services.

Donated to the library «Lithographic lecture courses of scientists of the St. Petersburg Practical Technological University and the Kharkov University» became the basis for the creation of an educational fund. The library fund was replenished by teaching manuals of  I. A. Vyshnegradskiy, H. S. Voynitskiy, B. T. Vylezhinskiy, A. K. Krupskiy, P. V. Koturnitskiy, M. P. Petrov, N. N. Beketov, M. A. Tikhomandritskiy, K. A. Andreyev, A. V. Gurov et al. Donations of private persons and organizations, procurement in bookstores and firms, book exchange have further become the sources of its replenishment.

Every year, such replenishments averaged from 500 to 1000 copies. Already by the beginning of 1887 the library subscribed to 87 magazine titles, mainly foreign. Their annual number fluctuated from 120 to 160 titles. The librarian closely monitored profile publications in periodicals.
 

In 1889 «The Rules of management of the library of the Emperor Alexander III Kharkov Practical Technological Institute, the acquisition of books and their usage», developed by the Education Committee of the Institute on typical project, were adopted (the full text of them http://library.kpi.kharkov.ua/Retro.html .). V. L. Kirpichev and N. P. Vorontsov-Velyaminov, the trustee of the Kharkov school district, were directly involved in the drafting of the rules. The document, which has come down to us, attesting exact scientific organization of operations of the library and sophisticated technology of readers' services.

At the beginning of the 90s of the XIX century, the library of the Institute becomes the richest in the number of volumes and titles of technical publications not only in Kharkov, but also in the south of the country. At the beginning of 1892 its fund totaled more than 10 thousand copies, the cost of subscriptions to periodicals reached 1000 rubles per year, there were up to 40 visitors, daily working in the reading room of the library. Along with the expansion of student enrolment and the strengthening of the structure of KhTI an annual amount approximately 4000 rubles was spent on stocking of its document foundation.

The library was primarily located on the first floor of the main building (now the MCB), built in 1876 by the architect R. R. Genrikhsen. As of 1906 it was placed in 4 rooms. The reading room was separately allocated. In 1910, the library was additionally extended an office for a reading room where special tables for drawing atlases of the big format were placed.

The created Library Commission, which participated in all spheres of activities of the library, consisted of two professors from each department (mechanical and chemical), who were elected by the Education Committee for three years. The famous scientists M. D. Zuyev, M. I. Kuznetsov, G. A. Latyshev, A. P. Lidov, G. F. Proskura, E. N. Serdyuk, Ya. V. Stolyarov were its members. In 1894, during the holiday period of the librarian M. L. Semenchinov, the library was headed by P. M. Mukhachyov, and in 1917 – by G. F. Proskura. This fact attests to the personal participation of well-known scientists of KhTI in the activities of the library.

In 1913 was published «The systematic catalog of books of the Emperor Alexander III Kharkov Technological Institute» where the information about the books, the library acquired before 1910 was collected. This catalog, totalling 351 pages, is an outcome of the titanic efforts of the librarian, scientists and students of the Institute. It is known that the catalog was edited by Professors G. F. Proskura, M. D. Zuyev and Ya. V. Stolyarov. M. L. Semenchinov was awarded by a monetary award of 200 rub. for special diligence in compiling the catalog.

The increase of the book fund raised the issue of its location. That's why outside of the main building appeared separate specialized libraries attached to the laboratories and offices of the Institute. The library which was situated in the main building was called «The Fundamental library».

Up to the beginning of 1917 there were 30 thousand book editions available for 1,5 thousand readers.

The 1920s

The last pre-revolutionary years and the 1920s were marked by radical changes in the life of society and the Institute. In 1916 on the territory of KhTI the Kharkov Women's Polytechnic Institute founded by the South Russian Society of Technologists was opened. In KhTI mechanical and technical departments were reorganized into faculties. In 1918 the draft for the distribution of the disciplines of mechanical faculty by 10 chairs, which was implemented in the mid 20s, was adopted. There were opened electrotechnical faculty and the faculty of engineers-constructors, aviation department of mechanical faculty, the workers' faculty, preparatory courses. In 1924 there were 2400 students studied at the Institute, professorial/teaching staff has increased to 123 people. The role and importance of the library in the Institute life were at the high level. The library of KhTI was transferred under the management of the teaching department, headed by the vice-rector of the Institute. It faced challenges of expeditious service of readers and providing students and teachers of new faculties and subdivisions with necessary editions. Since 1917 the library fund has tripled, and by 1922 it reached 165,127 copies. Due to the increase of the number of readers the library timetable was changed: from 10 am to 10 pm (in 1922 – from 8.00 to 24.00). Taking into account new specializations and research topics the policy of fund stocking has also changed. The implementation of the ideological and political function presented the library with new challenges.

Over the long period of time from 1919 to 1930, on the recommendation of M. L. Semenchinov, the Fundamental library was managed by Mariya Lvovna Shepeleva, the widow of the teacher of physics and mechanics P. V. Shepelev. The librarians A. M. Krasnova, K. M. Lagutinskaya, N. G. Latysheva, M. B. Pazol, I. M. Pozina, O. K. Sokolovskaya, V. O. Shebalina and others worked fruitfully.

1930s–1940s

In December 1929, the Institute was renamed the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute. At that time there were about 30 chairs working at KhPI. The All-Union reform of the higher technical education system has been commenced, which provided for the significant increase in the number of graduates - specialists. The training of engineers in-depth narrow specialization has been commenced. In 1930 there was a complete reorganization of KhPI, all its faculties had been transferred as independent branch institutes: machine-engineering (KhMMI), electrical technology (KhETI), chemical technology (KhCTI), aviation (KhAI), and others. Each branch institute has established its own libraries. The library of KhTI has provided some of its fund for the formation of libraries of the newly formed institutes. Editions on chemistry and chemical technology were handed to KhCTI, editions on electric engineering – to KhETI, editions on aeronautics and aircraft industry – to the aviation institute; editions on construction, architecture and descriptive geometry – to the construction institute; editions on automotive industry – to the Automobile and Tractor Institute. This was preceded by the painstaking work of librarians for the selection of the book fund, which was also accompanied by heavy physical activity. The Fundamental library was left attached to the Kharkov Mechanical Machine Building Institute.

In the drawing building (now the main building) was opened the student's library named after L. N. Tolstoy («Tolstoy's library»). Social and economic publications and fiction were collected in it. Its fund contained a significant amount of editions of the classics of domestic and foreign literature, the originals of lifetime editions of works of the European writers of the XIX–XX centuries. The library served readers of all branch institutes within its own territory.

During this period of history, the libraries of the newly formed institututes are starting their biographies.

Until 1940, the entire fund of the library of KhCTI totaled 117,719 published items, and 79412 copies of them was educational literature, 38307 copies of them was scientific literature. Before the war, the library subscribed to 200–250 periodicals in chemistry from 35 countries of the world, including European, South American, Asian, Australian and African countries.

In the 40s, in a memorandum to S. V. Kosior, the Vice-Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the UkSSR, I. I. Strelkov, the director of the Institute, wrote: «The Kharkov Chemical Technical Institute has one of the best scientific libraries of the Soviet Union in chemistry and chemical technologies and related fields of technology. Our scientific library has more complete sets of the world's chemical magazines and reference books, compared with the library of the Academy of Sciences of the UkSSR. This kind of library has great economic importance, because exactly in the field of chemistry and chemical technology occurs such a frequent phenomenon, when the results of many classical researches done decades ago, only now have the opportunity to industrial implementation».

Granting of reader's requests for the latest domestic editions had contributed by granting to libraries of KhCTI, KhMMI, KhETI an obligatory paid copy at the profile of the Institute, according to the Decree of the USSR CPC from May 9, 1940 under the No. 700 «About providing scientific libraries with a paid copy of literature». In accordance with it all profile printed publications of the USSR arrived to the libraries of institutes and were available for all comers. The well-known librarians of that time were M. L. Shepeleva, S. M. Zingerman, V. G. Deparma and others.

The war years

Upon the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War the libraries and the librarians of all three institutes could not evacuate. The richest book funds of the libraries of institutes remained in Kharkov. Soon after the capture of Kharkov the information about the unique collection of books and magazines, kept in libraries of the first capital of Ukraine, were transferred to Berlin. In accordance with orders of the German command the export of rare scientific publications, publications on industrial technology, geology, topography and books and periodicals on strategic-military topics has been initiated. Teachers and librarians, who remained in Kharkov, initiated work on rescue of the state property from aggressors.

The librarians of institutes in every possible way sabotaged orders of the German commandant's office about destruction of part of the literature. Rare books as well as valuable laboratory devices and mechanisms were hidden from fascists in cellars, covered with a lot of garbage, buried in boxes, transferred to the houses of librarians. Half-starved and exhausted, librarians and teachers transported abandoned books from private libraries and institutions to a safe place with their own hands, using carts and sledges, which were covered with things.

Unfortunately, we know only a few names of librarians who made the feat of saving of the books from day to day under fire, risking getting shot every minute – Vera Gennadyevna Deparma, Natalya Sergeyevna Yurkevich, Olga Vasilyevna Chikova, A. I. Tyurina. Scientists who remained in the occupied territory, particularly M. I. Sakharov, Professor of physics and F. A. Belyakov, Professor of KhECI, took an active part in the rescue of the unique laboratory mechanisms and books. In early 1942, at the initiative of Professor of KhTI and KhNU A. V. Zhelekhovskiy, Commissioner of Education Department of the City Government, the private collections of G. F. Proskura and I. M. Babakov were transferred to the library fund of KhMMI, as a result, they were saved from looting and destruction.

The rescued books were placed in the main building (MCB), which the least suffered from the bombing. Still, the German invaders were able to transfer part of the book fund and valuable equipment. The significant damage was caused to the libraries of the institute, especially to the libraries of KhCTI. The scale of the theft can be represented by the available data. 25 titles of complete sets of magazines were taken out to Germany, among which were such as «Annales de chimie et de physique» (1789–1941); «Annalen der Chemie» (1832–1941); «Annalen der physic» (1799–1941); «The American Journal of Science» (1890–1940); «The annalyst» (1876–1941); «British plastics» (1929–1941) «Biochemische Zeitschrift» (1906–1940) and others. Also the reference fund was partially taken out.

The considerable number of the fund was prepared for export, but fascists were stopped by the liberation of Kharkov on 23 August 1943. Leaving our city, they undermined the building of KhETI, whereupon the laboratory and part of the book fund of the institute’s library were damaged.

We don't know the surname of the teacher of one of our institutes who facilitated the return of the books from Berlin to our library in 1948. From the stories of our senior colleagues, we know that in the spring of 1945, being in the freed Berlin, he saw the books with familiar stamps and did everything to return the books to Kharkov. The commandant of Berlin helped him in that effort.

Thanks to the selfless actions of teachers and librarians around 200 thousand editions were rescued. The Government appreciated the feat of librarians. Vera Gennadyevna Deparma was awarded with the medal «For Labour Valour» for preservation of the fund and preparation of the library of KhMMI to the 1944/1945 academic year.

After the liberation of Kharkov the staff of the institutes was returning from the evacuation. They witnessed a dire picture of destructions. The main building in which KhCTI and its library were placed, was considerably damaged: the building and all wooden parts were completely burned; the brick arch floors, ceilings between floors and constructions of ceiling structures, located above a large lecture hall, were partially overwhelmed. The parts of chemical, technical and other buildings were burned and destroyed. Fine lecture halls turned into a pile of rubble and metal constructions, damaged from fire. The windows were broken, the premises were dumped with a pile of garbage, the water supply system and the system of central heating were defrosted. Having returned, the staff of the institutes was placed in the intact buildings without furniture and equipment. The premises of the libraries turned into dumps of the books covered by glass and lime. The books of the institute libraries were mixed with the books of other libraries of Kharkov educational institutions and private collections. The library staff was able to systematize and arrange the fund in a short time and with the beginning of the learning process in January 1944 the staff organized the service of readers.

From 1949 to 1963 the library was led by Anna Konstantinovna Kozhemyakina. Her work was rewarded with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

1960s–1990s

To its 75th anniversary the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute turned into a major training and scientific center. In the context of reorganization of teaching and educational and research processes the requirements for the activity of the Institute's library have increased, its objectives and functions have become quite complex, the sphere of communications has expanded. The KhPI Library worked closely with dean's offices, departments and other divisions of the University. The number of readers reached 14.5 thousand people, the loan increased to 800 thousand.

In the 60's there was a change of the library structure. The premises were provided for a reading room for 120 places and for the Delivery Desk of Fiction with a book fund of more than 70 thousand copies. Indoors the Palace of Students there was the open access Delivery Desk of Fiction which was situated near the publicly accessible Reading Room for Educational Literature. In 1963 there were the premises of 100 sq.m provided to the branch of the Library located in the area of the Kharkov Tractor Plant, which served the students of the evening department of KhPI. This premises were situated on the first floor of the apartment building. The branch of the Library was previously placed in the basement. All staff of the Library took part in the transfer of publications and their sorting. The taken measures have significantly improved the Student Services System and the system of providing students with literature. There was a clear system of differentiated service of readers of all 5 delivery desks.

The book exchange with the Kiev, Riga, Minsk, Yerevan, Gorkiy, Novocherkassk, Kalinin, Irkutsk and Lvov Polytechnic Institutes was reactivated; the book exchange was also reactivated with the Lvov and Kiev Universities and with other institutions. There was the introduction of the automatic information unit (AIU-50), which provided the information about new domestic and foreign publications, provided materials on the methodology of working of higher educational institutions, provided the rules of depositing of scientific articles. The STI sources and the addresses of scientific organizations were also provided.

In accordance to the Rector's order the Institute of Informants of the Departments was created in the 70s. Its structure was approved at the same time. Some of the departments defined the effect of carried out scientific works by level of use of information materials provided to them by bibliographers. The theme of the scientific and auxiliary indexes of the KhPI Library was so relevant that they were consistently requested from all over the former Soviet Union and there was a formation of the queue for their mailing. The standards for library processes were actively developing in the 70s. As early as 1973, the department of the scientific organization of labor was created. It was later reorganized into the scientific and methodical department.

The 80s were marked by the preparation of the library staff for the 100th anniversary of the Institute and the Library. The achievements and prospects of development of the Library were considered at the scientific and practical conference organized on the occasion. During this period, the Library has already had 10 departments, 93 staff members, 80 percent of them had the higher education. At the disposal of readers were 5 Delivery Desks and 8 Reading Rooms. On the occasion of the anniversary 30 employees were awarded with certificates of honor from the rectorate and public organizations; the Head of the Library Yelena Vasilyevna Kuznetsova was awarded with the Order of Honour and the Certificate of Honour, and 25 employees were honoured with the title of «The Veteran of Labor». During this period, the Library introduced the «Faculty Days». The analysis of results of the book providing of academic disciplines was provided for this event. The information about rarely used publications and the results of the readability analysis were also provided for this event. The information requests of specialists were precised.

From 1986 to 2005 the library was headed by Mykola Opanasovych Bulatetskyi — a man with a big heart and a talent for songwriting. In the 90's there were more than 120 people working at the library, and the fund averaged nearly 1,8 million copies. The premises of the library were catastrophically overloaded, therefore the part of the fund was transferred to the departments' studies.

The year 1992 is officially considered as the year of the beginning of computerization of the Library. The formation of the electronic catalogue has begun. The project «Educational and methodical base of the Library automation», which was developed by the library staff, was submitted to the contest to the International Renaissance Foundation in 1996. The project was approved and the Scientific and Technical Library received a grant of 4 computers of the IBM-486 brand (which were modern at the time) and 2 printers. It was a significant event in the life of the collective, because the possibilities of automation of the majority of technological processes have expanded. In 1997 the Library got a free Internet access with the assistance of IREX Fund. In 1999, the website of the Library was set up on the Internet. Business contacts are being established with the Library of Poznan University of Technology. The staff of the Center of New Information Technologies helped librarians to receive practical computer skills.

A new stage of development of information resources of the Library and its communication and information function has begun. The scientific and practical conferences and the conferences of young specialists, whose materials were covered in the journals «Scientific and Technical Libraries», «The Library Bulletin» are actively held in that period. The library staff was repeatedly awarded with honorary diplomas and certificates of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine and the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine for the achievements.

THE XXI CENTURY

The Scientific and Technical library has entered the XXI century with significant acquisitions and achievements. The functions of the library have considerably expanded, its tasks has grown more complex, and its resources have acquired a strategic importance, because they created opportunities for successful implementation of the scientific and educational tasks facing the University. Since 2005, the library is a member of the «Informatio-Consortium» Association. This expanded considerably the opportunity of access to global electronic resources.

From mid-2005 to June 2006 the duties of the Director of the library were temporarily performed by Svitlana Andriivna Kulikova — an active and goal-oriented person. She intensified the establishment of full-text database of teaching and learning materials, supported cultural and educational activities. The website of the library was listed as one of the best.

Since July, 2006 the library is headed by Larysa Petrivna Semenenko. The library rapidly reacts to dynamic changes in the University, looks for new approaches to the process of service of readers and processing of publications, improves its activity. The library also expands not only the range of library and information services, but also the impact on the University activities. It develops a strategy and implements a policy of development of the library model itself in accordance with the requirements of tomorrow.