Tallinna Keskraamatukogu - Page 277

‹ 277 › annual fee of ten rubles. In 1898 there were 10,000 books in this big Russian-language library at Olevmägi 8, and 15,000 lendings, which was a very good indicator. This library was gladly used by Tallinn’s secondary school pupils who, as the head of the provincial gendarme government complained, “chose literature of a certain tendency”, for the school library languished at the mercy of the list of approved books. At the beginning of the Estonian Republic in 1918 the Tallinn Central Library applied to takeover the leaderless Maritime Library but it went to the general staff administration. At the beginning of the century there were three public libraries (with “approved” books) in Tallinn: two Estonian – the libraries of the Tallinn Estonian Handicraftworkers’ Society and the temperance society “Valvaja” (Guardian), both established in 1903 – and one Russian-Estonian – the library of the Tallinn Temperance Committee, also established in 1903. The two first ones, as can be seen by their names, belonged to societies, but both had many members and were important to the Estonian population of the city. Both of them had literature that was missing from the approved books list, altogether illegally. The police found this in the Handicraftworkers’ Society Library and closed the society down in1906. The third, belonging to the Temperance Committee, not to be confused with the Temperance Society, was a state institution totally loyal to the czar, but still asked for 10–20 kopecks a month or a whole ruble annually. The library was located in Mündi street. For this purpose the Temperance Committee asked for support from the new city council. This was not granted and the city council established the Tallinn Municipal Free Public Library and Reading Room instead. The Temperance Committee Library carried on and in 1913 created another library in Vabriku street. Now we have considered all the predecessors of the TLMAR. As we can see the picture is not rich in achievement. In order to see Tallinn against the background of other cities, particularly Tartu, we present the following figures regarding the number of libraries beginning in the 1870s. As before this does not include official goverment institutions or school libraries. We see that Tallinn, which was always considerably bigger than Tartu, only managed to catch up as regards the number of libraries in 1905, and then overtake. Of course comparing figures in a table is questionable, for a mouse (some small library) might land next to a giant (such as a university library), but it does present a certain picture, if we correct it with the importance of each city’s libraries to Estonian culture – in Tartu the Estonian Learned Society, Estonian Writers Society, Estonian Students Society, The Estonian National Museum Library, not to mention the university library, which by every measure surpasses Tallinn’s. For a long time, until the 1870s, the power in Tallinn’s municipal authorities was with the great merchants and the so-called literati. Starting in 1877 the power was in the city council chosen from among German merchants and property owners. This ran educational matters for the Estonian city dwellers out of necessity. The demand for a general educational institution like a library would have been met with a shrugging of shoulders. But in 1904 Estonians won a great victory in the city council: Of 60 seats Estonians won 38 and Russians 5. The new city councillors were Ferdinand Karlson, Voldemar Lender, Jaan Poska, Mihkel Pung, Konstantin Päts, Otto Strandman and Jaan Teemant. They are all shining lights in Estonian history. The Estonian-minded city council influenced the city administration to improve education, social welfare and health care. Quite naturally the creation of a free library for the city’s population with literature in the “three local languages” came under discussion: one-third Estonian, onethird German, one-third Russian. As became clear in the previous development of libraries, the establishment and running of such a library only became meaningful in 1906 when the central Russian government ended the oppression of public and people’s libraries with lists of banned and approved books. 1870 Tallinn Tartu All cities 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1915 4 8 22 4 1 27 8 13 36 8 13 41 10 13 39 10 15 49 14 20 70 22 22 89 29 24 126 48 30 164