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National Library of Latvia

National Library of Latvia
Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka
Established August 29, 1919
Location 8 buildings in Riga, Latvia
Size 4.1 million books and other publications
Other information
Director Andris Vilks
Staff 480

The National Library of Latvia is the national cultural institution of importance under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, acting in accordance with the law "On the Latvian National Library", other laws and Regulation is approved by the Cabinet.

The NLL mission is to promote the free and inventive usage of Latvia's cultural and scientific heritage so as to foster education, research, the development of knowledge and the quality of life.

The NLL cooperates with many libraries, organisations and institutions in Latvia and in the world with the aim of sharing professional experience and knowledge. The international activities of the NLL are focused upon:

participation in international library organisations IFLA, CENL, CDNL, CERL, EBLIDA, ELAG, LIBER, IAML, IBBY, Bibliotheca Baltica, etc.; participation in international organizations UNESCO, ISO, IASA, ICON, IGELU, IPC and agencies ISBN, ISSN and ISMN; implementation of joint international projects and programs; cooperation with international organisations, foreign embassies in Latvia and Latvia’s embassies abroad, information and culture centres to promote Latvia’s culture heritage and organise international exhibitions and conferences; international document exchange and participation at international book fairs.[1]


  • History 1
  • Collections 2
  • Letonica 3
  • New building 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The National Library of Latvia was formed in 1919 after the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed in 1918. The first supervisor of the Library was Jānis Misiņš, a librarian and the founder of the Latvian scientific bibliography (1862–1945).

Today the Library plays an important role in the development of Latvia's information society, providing Internet access to residents and supporting research and lifelong education.


1919 The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia adopts the decision on the establishment of the State Library of Latvia

1920 The Library starts receiving the legal deposit copy of Latvian printed editions. The legal deposit copies of the USSR and LSSR (1941)

1921 The current series (numbered) of the bibliographical index “Latvian Science and Literature” of articles published in periodicals is published. Retrospective series (lettered) (1926)

1922 The “Law on the State Library” and the “Law on the Central Book Catalogue” adopted. The interlibrary loan (ILL) launched in Latvia

1924 Latvia joins the Brussels Convention that envisages the international exchange of printed matter published with state funding - official documents, scientific and literary publications

1927 "The Bulleting of the State Library”, the index of books published in Latvia, bibliographical monthly magazine sets the foundation for regular national bibliography. The Association of Latvian Librarians (ALL) becomes the member of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations). ALL renews its membership in IFLA in 1999

1940 The State Chamber of Books (since 1989 - the Institute of Bibliography) established at the State Library of the Latvian SSR. An independent institution since 1959, merged into the structure of the NLL in 1993.

1946 The closed stack or the so-called specfonds has been formed. Transferred for general use in 1988

1949 Start of the publication of the national registering bibliographical index “Press Chronicle” (since 1957 — “The Press Chronicle of the Latvian SSR”)

1950 Start of the publication of the analytical bibliographical edition “Chronicle of Magazine and Newspaper Articles”

1958 The State Central Sheet Music Library is joined to the Library, establishing the Music Department

1968 The Library organizes the first summer seminar-camp for Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian libraries LiLaEst

1988 The Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR adopts a decision on building a new State Library building

1992 The Law of the Republic of Latvia “On the National Library of Latvia” is adopted

1993 The NLL becomes the member of the Conference of the Directors of European National Libraries (CENL)

1995 The Baltic Central Library, created by Oto Bong (1918—2006) is made accessible to the readers

1996 The Council of Europe Information Office is opened at the NLL

1997 Library Information Network Consortium established for the implementation of LATLIBNET project (the present state agency Culture Information Systems)

1998 The Support Foundation of the NLL established (at present – the Society)

The depository of the NLL opened in Silakrogs (the present repository). Its second stage commissioned in 2006.

The Centre for professional continuous education, established by the NLL, the University of Latvia, the Library Information Network Consortium and IT company Alise, is launched (at present – the Training Centre of the NLL. Accredited in 2008) 1999 The NLL starts the building of the digital library with the project “Heritage 1: Preservation of Latvian periodicals (1822— 1940)”.

UNESCO General Assembly in Paris approves “Resolution for the support to the building of the NLL” submitted by the NLL

2000 475 years pass since the first book in “common Livonian, Latvian and Estonian language” was printed. Launch of the NLL electronic catalogue.

The International Council of Experts of UNESCO established for the support of the construction of the NLL 2001 The united reader’s card of the Consortium Libraries introduced.

The 15th annual meeting of CENL held in Riga

2002 The Bank of Latvia issues a one lat coin with the image of the new NLL building.

The Parliament of the Republic of Latvia passes the Law on the Construction of the NLL

2004 The clearing of the NLL building site starts

2006 The foundations of the National Digital Library of Latvia “Letonica” are laid.

The completion of the international project TEL-ME-MOR.

The NLL becomes a full member of TEL (The European Library)

2007 The NLL included in the list of the national research institutions

2008 The construction of the new NLL building starts


The main building. Krišjāņa Barona iela 14

One of the characteristic cornerstones of the NLL, which characterizes every national library, is the formation of the collection of national literature, its eternal storage and long-term access.

The NLL is a centre of theoretical research and practical analyses of the activities of Latvian libraries. The Library carries out the functions of the centre of Latvia Interlibrary Loan, ensures the library and information service to the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia - the Saeima, implements the standardisation of the branch. Since the very outset, its main concern has been the national bibliography. The massive union catalogue “Ancient Prints in Latvian 1525 -1855 ”(published in Riga, 1999), received Spīdola Prize in 2000 and was awarded “The Beautiful Book of the Year 99”.[3]

In 2005 “The Index of the Authors of Letonica Books (1523-1919)” was published, providing information about versatile branches of science and representatives of various nations, Latvia being the main focus of their publications.

The NLL includes several collections of posters (artists Oskars Šteinbergs (1882–1937), Sigismuds Vidbergs (1890–1970), Raoul Dufy (1877–1953), Bernhard Borchert (1863–1945), Niklavs Strunke (1894–1966) and others). [4]


Digitising collections at the NLL started in 1999. At present the Latvian National Digital Library Letonica, which was formed in 2006, holds digitized collections of newspapers, pictures, maps, books, sheet-music and audio recordings. In 2008 NLL launched two major digital projects. is the NLL's collection of digitized historical periodicals in Latvian with the possibility to read full texts and search page by page.[5] Latvia has a tradition of Song and Dance Festivals organized every four years. The historical materials from the first Song Festival in 1864 till the Latgale Song Festival in 1940 can be explored in another digital collection of the National Library of Latvia.[6]

New building

National Library of Latvia in Riga

On May 15, 2008, after discussions lasting for many years, the state agency Three New Brothers and The Union of National Construction Companies signed the contract on the construction of the new National Library of Latvia. One of the notable architects is Gunārs Birkerts. It will open its doors to visitors in 2014. The first discussions about the need for a new National Library had already started in 1928, and the significance of the project of this century was further confirmed by the high-level international recognition. In 1999 almost all 170 UNESCO member states during its General Conference adopted a resolution,[7] calling the member states and the international community to ensure all possible support for the implementation of the NLL project.


LIBER 43rd Annual Conference

Development of the digital library services

Dissemination and Exploitation via Libraries: for Success and Sustainability of LLP Results

Effective training tools application to qualification improvement in library sector (ETQI)

Europeana Awareness

Europeana Inside

Europeana Newspapers

Europeana Sounds

The Exhibition "Book 1514-2014" and Academic readings "Content of the 21st Century"

The Impact of Digital text and Multimedia Format on Childhood Learning: a Multidimensional Approach

See also


  1. ^ "About the National Library of Latvia". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Facts From National Library of Latvia History". Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "About collection of NLL". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Treasures of the National Library of Latvia". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  5. ^ "Latvijas Nacionālā digitālā bibliotēka" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  6. ^ "Latviešu Dziesmu svētki (1864–1940)" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  7. ^ "Resolution 38 adopted at the 30th session of the UNESCO General Conference". 

External links

  • Official site of the National Library of Latvia
  • Project of the new building of the NLL
  • Friends of the National Library of Latvia
  • Message to the future readers
  • Live from the construction site
  • World Wide Science

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