Tallinna Keskraamatukogu - Page 276

‹ 276 › established lending libraries, the best-known among them being Jakob Ploompuu in 1905. Until the end of the czarist state another five were founded. Among them the big library founded in 1917 at Taavet Mutso’s bookshop. It can’t be said that the establishment of TLMAR led to the commercial libraries dying out. There was enough work for everyone. Moving over to libraries aspiring to educational goals – they were called public – it must be said that the city council rejected them completely. Perhaps the council thought that the Estonian Public Library sufficed without looking into what had become of it. But alongside the city council’s rejection one must consider the public libraries’ legal position. Men of commerce and societies with educational aims alike received permits for their activities from the governor, but for the latter additional conditions were established in 1884: the library needed a set of statutes (this had to be confirmed by the interior ministry), it had to have board of governors (of which the provincial grammar school director had to be a member), it had to have a guarantor (whose loyalty to the state was to be confirmed by the gendarmerie). For public libraries the list of banned books was still enforced. This meant that one could buy a book passed by the censors in the bookshops but it might still have been banned in the library. In 1890 the interior ministry divided libraries with educational aims into two categories. The first included those that were fee-paying (called public), the second those that took no fee or asked for a small symbolic fee (up to 1 ruble a year). These were called people’s libraries and the approved book lists were in force for them – if a book wasn’t in the approved book list, it wasn’t permitted in the people’s library. (The approved book lists were also enforced in school libraries, a different one for every level.) If the inspectors (police) found a banned book in a public library, there was trouble. If they found a book not on the approved list in a people’s library, there was again a lot of trouble – the library was closed down, and the guarantor had to answer for it with a heavy fine. So at a time when the establishment of self-administrating libraries with educational aims was spreading in Western Europe and particularly the USA, things were going in the other direction in Russia, where obstructions were being put up. The purpose of the obstructions was clear to everybody: a person who was rich or well-to-do could buy in a bookshop, what the censor didn’t approve. Whoever was not very well-to-do but still managed to pay 10–15 ruble annual fee to the public library encountered the second step of censorship. Those who wanted education but were poor saw only what those in power regarded as useful to them in the people’s library. The state had no fear of the rich; a rich man could even buy Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” (a Russian translation appeared in 1872 and cost 3 rubles). A citizen thirsty for knowledge didn’t find this in the public library (it was banned), and in the people’s library there was no point in even asking as it wasn’t on the approved list. Among the banned books were those that the liberal Russian press was so proud of (A. Herzen, N. Tshernõshevski and others), among the approved books were those that can only make a lover of literature feel ashamed – little booklets praising the czar, the Orthodox Church and the fatherland. In the middle of the 1890s only a small fraction was allowed of Russian literature. Did the system of banned and approved books, which was intended for the whole of Russia, exist here under “the special Baltic regime”? It did indeed, for the Russification of administrative institutions, courts, schools and the police begun in the middle of the 1880s ended the special regime, and the amendment of the public library law in 1884 was like a free supplement to Alexander IIIs well known Russification campaign. True, there was no list of German, French and banned books, but all such literature was subject to a