Tallinna Keskraamatukogu - Page 274

‹ 274 › Libraries in Tallinn before the Establishment of the Tallinn Municipal Free Public Library Kalju-Olev Veskimägi The establishment of libraries for a wider public began in the 16th century in connection with the Reformation. Martin Luther’s letter “to all German alderman that they must found and maintain Christian schools” (1524) sought education for all people. In the section of the letter touching on libraries Luther expressed the wish that “no effort or expense should be spared in the provision of libraries, particularly in larger towns where this is possible.” Luther’s appeal was first answered with the establishment of libraries by towns and then churches. Among old Livonian towns and cities Riga came to the fore in a praiseworthy way. At that time Tallinn was almost Riga’s equal in population but not in cultural interests. The Library established probably in 1552 near St Olav’s was a church library which experienced many highs and lows and changes of masters and locations. In the 19th century it became Tallinn’s biggest and most important library and is now part of the Tallinn University Academic Library. As there was no need for a library it fell into neglect by the second half of the 16th century. It rose again under Swedish rule in the middle of the 17th century when Tallinn recovered economically, the town council granted funds, thereby taking charge of the library, and consituted a commission to restore order. In 1668 there were 3v