V. I. Lenin

To The People’s Commissariat Of Education[1]

Written: February, 1919
First Published: 1933 in Lenin Miscellany XX IV; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 28, pages 451-452
Translated: Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive May, 2002

First page of the manuscript

Please pass on to your library departments (both adult education and public library, etc.) my supplementary ideas on the question recently raised in the Council of People’s Commissars and let me know your conclusions (and those of the respective departments).

*     *

More than anything else the libraries, including of course reading hues, all kinds of reading rooms, etc., require competition between individual provincial libraries, groups, reading rooms, etc.

The proper way to send in accounts, which is now demand-ed by the Council of People’s Commissars, should serve three aims:

I) authentic and complete information to the Soviet government and all citizens about what is going on;

2) enlisting the public in library work;

3) encouraging competition among library workers.

To these ends lists and forms of accounting should be immediately drawn up that will suit the purposes.

Account lists should, I think, be drawn up at the centre and then reprinted in the gubernias and distributed among all educational departments and all libraries, reading rooms, clubs, etc.

These account lists should enumerate (printed, say, in heavy type) the compulsory questions which library man-agers, etc., must answer on pain of prosecution. Apart from these compulsory questions there should be a considerable number of non-compulsory questions (in the sense that failure to answer does not necessarily carry the threat of prosecution).

The compulsory questions should include the library’s (or reading room’s, etc.) address, name and address of the manager and his board members, quantity of books and newspapers, working hours, etc. (the big libraries will have to give more information).

The non-compulsory questions should include all improve-ments being applied in Switzerland and America (and elsewhere) so that we can reward (by giving bonuses in the form of valuable books, collections, and so on) those who make the most improvements and carry them out best of all.

For example: t) Can you supply precise information to prove more books have been lent from your library? or 2) how many people visit your reading room? or 3) book and newspaper exchange with other libraries and reading rooms? or 4) compilation of a central catalogue? or 5) work on Sundays? or 6) work in the evenings? or 7) encourage. ment of new readers, women, children, non-Russians, etc.? or 8) satisfaction of readers’ references? or 9) simple and practical means of storing books and newspapers? Saving them? Mechanical means of obtaining the book and returning it to its place? or 10) lending a book? or 11) simplification of guarantees in lending a book? or 12) send-ing it through the post?

And so on, ad infinitum ....

Bonuses are to be awarded for the best accounts and forthcoming successes.

The Library Department of the People’s Commissariat of Education must inform the Council of People’s Commis-sars about the number of accounts received monthly and the answers to which questions are given; and the totals.


[1] On January 30, 1919, at a Meeting of the Council of People’s, Commissars Lenin raised the question of the library service. The decision compiled by Lenin and adopted by the Council of People’s Commissars instructed the People’s Commissariat of Education to publish and send to the Council of People’s Commissars brief monthly reports on the progress achieved in increasing the number of libraries and reading rooms and the circulation of books.