Tallinna Keskraamatukogu - Page 275

‹ 275 › A break in the establishment of libraries with a larger readership can be seen in the 18th century. Under the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment there was a shift from reading spiritual works to worldly ones, and the 18th century is called the century of the novel. This brought with it a fundamental change in the nature of reading: intensive, that is to say repetitive reading, which is natural in taking in spiritual literature was replaced by extensive reading – meaning several books at the same time. Readers could not afford all the new books that they were interested in, and therefore the demand for new sorts of libraries arose. These came into being in Germany; France, England and elsewhere in Europe in the form of commercial libraries, also called lending libraries. The owners of these libraries did not limit reading according to status or other criteria. Everyone who could afford to pay the reading fees was welcome. The oldest information about a lending library in Estonia is from Tallinn. The owner was Johann Christian Allée. He published his library’s catalogue in 1777. Allée’s library was located at Nunne street 2. Looking inside the house one has to assume that he had the rooms occupied today by the shop. By the way, from 1907 until 1921 these premises contained the Tallinn Municipal Free Public Library and Reading Room (Estonian abbreviation: TLMAR)! The catalogue of the first lending library in Tallinn leaves a very favourable impression. There were 350 titles (over 500 volumes), contemporary German and French literature (two-thirds having appeared in the previous four years – 1774–1777), truly new literature for new readers. It was predominantly travel letters, and books with historical and geographical content. There were all the famous writers-enlighteners (G. E. Lessing, J. W. Goethe, Ch. De Montesquieu, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau). The fee for using the books was one ruble per quarter of a year. Acquisition costs must have made themselves felt and the return was small, for probably in 1781 he sold his library to the merchant Johann Gottlob Hasse, who in turn sold it on. In the last decade of the century there were three lending libraries in Tallinn, three in Tartu, one each in the county towns. But at the end of the 18th century the lending libraries and all sorts of foreign books in the Baltic provinces were caught up by trouble from the imperial house: foreign books started to be banned. The reason was the French 3 Revolution. In 1796 censorship offices were established in five cities, including Riga, to monitor literature arriving from abroad. In1799 a censor was put in place at the harbour of Tallinn. The first list of banned books was created, which banned all books printed in France during the revolution. In 1800 the book banning reached a peak – Czar Paul I banned all foreign books no matter what they were about. All bookshops and lending libraries were sealed up, banned literature was looked for. This was a catastrophe for local German and French book culture. Fortunately not for long, f