Natalia Sergeevna Gurianova,

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Community Libraries as a Source for Studying Book Culture of the Old Believers


 DOI: 10.31518/2618-9100-2024-2-20

 The article examines descriptions of the library of the Vyg-Leksinsky community as a source for studying the book culture of the Old Believers. Attention is drawn to the first documentary evidence of books available to the Vyg inhabitants. These books are listed in “Register of Books according to alphabetical order”, which was compiled by Grigory Yakovlev, Vyg resident, in 1748, and attached to the essay submitted to the Holy Synod before the author joined the official Church. Analysis of the list of books made it possible to draw the conclusion that it reflected the breadth of thematic interests of the Vyg Old Believers, which they satisfied not only through the community library, but also through the main book depositories in whole Russia. Analysis of Inventories compiled in the 19th century by E.V. Barsov, A.E. Viktorov after the closure of Vyg monastery and the confiscation of the library, allowed to show the potential of these sources, when they are used for studying the book culture of the Old Believers. As a result, the thematic breadth of Old Believers’ interests was confirmed, and these descriptions were presented as evidence of the Old Believers’ completely scientific approach to the use of texts. Modern “Description of the manuscript and book collection of the Vyg-Leksinsky community”, compiled by E.M. Yukhimenko, made it possible to characterize the destiny of the books in the community library more profoundly and to draw a conclusion about the desire of the Old Believers to own books, not only “hidden” by them during confiscation, but also especially valuable manuscripts and ancient printed books. The descriptions of the Vyg Library, considered as a source of information, allow us to make a conclusion about the highest level of book culture, which combined the characteristic attitude of the early period, close to the sacralization of the book, with a completely scientific approach towards the text.

Publishing: 28/04/2024

The article has been received by the editor on 15/01/2024

Original article >

How to cite: Gurianova N.S. Community Libraries as a Source for Studying Book Culture of the Old Believers // Historical Courier, 2024, No. 2 (34), pp. 276–287. [Available online:]

The article was made on the topic of the state assignment “The Past in the Manuscript Sources of the 16th–20th Centuries: Preservation and Development of Traditions” (FWZM-2024-0006).

Links: Issue 2 2024

Keywords: Old Believers; Vyg-Leksinsky community; library; description; source; book culture