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Present building of the National Library of Mongolia
|Items collected||Books, Academic degree dissertations,journals,newspapers, magazines, databases, ancient and modern maps, manuscripts, sutras.|
|Size||around 3 million|
Mongolian National Library (Mongolian: Монгол улсын үндэсний номын сан) located in Ulaanbaatar, is the largest and oldest surviving library in Mongolia. It houses over three million books and publications, one million of which are rare and valuable books, sutras and manuscripts, including the world's only surviving copies of many ancient Buddhist texts.
The purpose of the National Library of Mongolia, according to its Rules of Organization and Operation, is “to collect and preserve manuscripts, sutras, academic degree dissertations, as well as books and periodicals that are published in Mongolia and significant foreign books and periodicals; to create a national bibliography; to serve efficiently the library users with the above material and to provide other public libraries with professional methodology, guidance and information.” The National Library of Mongolia is not only the largest library in the country, it is also the Professional Methodological Centre that develops regulations and legal documents to be applied in libraries in the country, develops and publishes professional publications, guidelines and bibliography and provides consultancy to over 1,500 public libraries of the country.
Among the over one million rare and valuable books is a collection of historical materials in Mongolian, Manchu, Tibetan, and Chinese. There are also contemporary collections in German, Japanese, and Korean funded by non-profits from the respective countries in addition to a Soros Foundation funded English education room to help students prepare for language proficiency exams abroad. There is a United Nations depository reading room and ten computers for Internet access. The National Library also has a significant collection of photocopied pictographs and old xylographed books.
A former branch of the National Library is the Children's Book Palace in Ulaanbaatar. It has an impressive collection of over 100,000 books in Mongolian, English, and Russian, in addition to three reading rooms. The reading rooms have titles like “Big Knowledge Man,” for younger children, “Dream,” for teenagers, and the “Education and Development” room with Internet access. The library has received the support of international organizations such as the Soros Foundation, Asian Development Bank.
The National Library of Mongolia was officially established on November 19, 1921 under the auspices of the Scientific Committee of Mongolia. The decision was taken at the government's 24th meeting just four months after the Outer Mongolian Revolution of 1921 in July. Originally called the Institute of Sutra and Scripts, its original collection contained a mere 2,000 books all donated by the famed Mongolian scholar Tseven.
According to its charter, the library's objectives included: " Assembly and preservation of manuscripts, sutras , thesis for degrees, as well as books and periodicals that are published in Mongolia, as well as significant foreign books and periodicals, and for the creation of the National Library for effectively provide readers the above materials, and to provide other public libraries of professional methodology, guidance and information." Librarians and scholars were brought in from the Soviet Union to establish the first book exchange with the largest libraries of Moscow and Leningrad in 1924 and Soviet bibliographers initiated the first retrospective compilation "Bibliographical Index of Mongolian books".
The library's first reading room opened on November 24, 1923. Prior to the Second World War, the Mongolian library collaborated solely with Soviet libraries. Starting in the late 1940s they began to interact with the libraries of other countries, first with communist bloc nations such as Hungary (1948), from 1963 - with libraries in Bulgaria (1963). By 1965 the library was collaborating with libraries from 26 countries, using funds of 49 libraries. Today, it has a book exchange program with 100 libraries in 70 countries.
In 1963 the hall of the scientific literature was opened. In order to make the ancient texts of the Mongolian Script and Culture more accessible to foreign as well as domestic researchers, the small museum dedicated to rare and valuable books had been established in 1981. The Library became a member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in 1991 and currently has book exchange programs with over 100 libraries in 70 countries. In 2005 the library opened a Turkish Reading Room (1600 publications, more than 600 readers per year).
In February 1990 the MPRP Politburo ordered the removal of Josef Stalin's statue from in front of the library in one of its first concessions to pro-democracy demonstrations that would lead to the 1990 Democratic Revolution. In 2004 the writer and journalist Gotovyn Akim was appointed General Director of the library. Based on his recommendation a statue of Byambyn Rinchen, a translator, scientist, linguist and prominent figure of modern Mongolian literature, was erected on the 100th anniversary of his birth in front of the library where the statue of Stalin had stood for nearly 40 years.
The National Library of Mongolia possesses the great Buddhist canonic texts such as Kanjur consisting of 108 volumes, which contains holy didactical words told by Great Buddha himself and Tanjur, an explanatory dictionary to the Buddha teachings, which consists of 226 volumes. Kanjur means “Concise Orders” in Mongolian translation and it contains over 1260 title books belonging to the ancient Indian Tripitaka or three knowledge areas such as Sutraya, Vinaya, Abhidarma concepts which represent listening, meditating and creating abilities. In addition, the National Library of Mongolia possesses over 10 different kind of Kanjur editions such as Nartan Edition Kanjur /102 volumes/, Derge Edition Kanjur /100 volumes/, Khuree Printed Kanjur /105 volumes/, Mongolian Dust Paint Printed Kanjur /108 volumes/, Mongolian Manuscript Kanjur /76 volumes/, Golden Kanjur /101 volumes/, Silver Kanjur /102 volumes/, and Kanjur written with 9 precious stones which is the only copy in the world.
In 2011 with the financial support of the World Bank the library launched the "People's Messenger" ( Ardyn Elch ) program, which aims to bring books to the nomads living in remote areas, residents in yurt suburbs of Ulaanbaatar , the military, prisoners, the disabled, pensioners and children not enrolled in school. Currently, the National Library advises about 1,500 libraries in the country, in the year to the funds received some 7,000 new publications.