May 26, 2022

Russia: “Moscow Libraries’ Hipster Makeover Hits Stumbling Block”

From the Moscow Times:

Three years ago, the Dostoevsky Library at 23 Chistoprudny Bulvar was much like any other library in the Russian capital: dark, cramped and nearly deserted.

Now, its huge first-floor windows reveal an airy space filled with readers, testifying to the potential that lies in Moscow’s hundreds of other public libraries.

This is potential that, reformers say, is still largely dormant, despite an ambitious program launched by former Moscow City Hall Culture Department head Sergei Kapkov three years ago that brought about the renovation of the Dostoevsky Library.

A true reformation would require a revolution in service culture from Soviet-era norms and disciplinarian librarians that seem targeted to repel visitors.


The Russian capital now boasts 452 public libraries with a total of 2.25 million members registered as of the end of 2014, according to the Moscow Library Center, an agency set up by the Culture Department to oversee the reform program, but few of them manage to draw many visitors in from the street.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.