Memorial’s library

Memorial’s library currently contains over 30,000 books and brochures and over 200 periodicals, published in Belorussian, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian.

The main focus of Memorial’s library is its collection of books on the history of the 20th century, which looks particularly at the totalitarian regimes of the USSR and Central and Eastern Europe. However, the library contains an additional 6,000 publications, including monographs, directories, collections of articles and documents, encyclopaedic works about the history of mass political repression, analyses of the structures of punitive governmental bodies, assessments of the different aspects of penitentiary systems and histories of dissent and its suppression. The library’s collection of materials on modern political parties and movements and modern non-traditional press outlets is also one of the largest in Russia. Additionally, one can find a wide variety of histories of Russia, books on culture, science and the church, legal publications related to current human rights issues, literature and contemporary political science and ethnology and a number of regional and less widely circulated publications.

For ease of access, Memorial offers an online catalogue capable of both alphabetical and thematic searches with over 15,000 entries. For those publications and books not yet online, there is also an alphabetical card catalogue, but this is being phased out as the electronic catalogue develops.

Memorial’s library is open access and its resources would be of particular use for those studying histories of totalitarianism, modern political science and human rights. If you are interested in visiting the library you can find its opening hours below.


A brief history of Memorial’s library

The necessity of creating a collection of the memories of the victims of repression and terror was laid out in the Memorial Society’s very first document in 1987. While the chaos of perestroika didn’t provide the best backdrop for such an endeavour, by 1989 the core of Memorial’s library collection had been obtained. At first, spacial limitations – with the collection being temporarily housed in a 7 square metre room near the underground station for the airport – meant that the books were mainly kept in the homes and apartments of Memorial’s activists, however, by the end of 1991, the library received its own space, a large room at Memorial’s office on Maly Karetny Lane.

It began modestly enough, with only two bookshelves, a few hundred books – mostly from the publisher Tamizdat on the third wave of emigration from the USSR – several boxes housing a collection entitled New Self-Publisher, two desks and three chairs. Yet, in the space of a mere twenty years, the library has grown into a collection of tens of thousands of books and periodicals, covering an enormous range of topics with a full time staff and spacious reading areas.


Contact information and opening hours:

The library is open weekdays from 11:00 to 19:00

Head of the library: Boris Isaevich Belenkin

Address: 127006, г. Москва, ул. Каретный ряд, д. 5/10

Telephone number: +7 (495) 699 71 22

Fax number: (495) 609 06 94