Letter to the Library Section of the Commissariat for Education, December 30, 1918

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The question of requisitioning Surkov’s library was discussed on December 27, 1918, at an enlarged sitting of the Executive Committee, the Extraordinary Commission and the Committee of the RCP(b) of the town of Rodniki. Its decision noted that “the books in Citizen Surkov’s library, which are of social value, are shut away and unread at a time when there is an immense lack of books for the enlightenment of broad masses of workers and peasants”, and that since a library was being formed in Rodniki “the requisitioned books will be of tremendous benefit as public property”. In order to give Lenin fuller information on this question, the meeting decided to send A. N. Prokofiev, secretary of the local Cheka, to see him.

Lenin received Prokofiev and after a talk with him wrote his letter to the People’s Commissariat for Education.

30. XII. 1918

Please receive the bearer, Comrade Prokofiev. His request for the requisitioning of Surkov’s library for a district of 40,000 people is, in my opinion, correct. Surkov, perhaps, should retain certain rights to use it? Please send me a copy of your decision on this question, and help the Rodniki comrades to expand their library. Can they not be sent one of the libraries requisitioned from the landowners? Please inform me about this as well.[1]

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)

Chairman, CPC

  1. In reply to Lenin’s letter, V. Y. Bryusov, head of the Library Section of the People’s Commissariat for Education, informed him on January 2, 1919, that A. N. Prokofiev had been received and heard out in the Library Section. Bryusov wrote that, according to existing rules, the requisitioning of libraries could be permitted only with the knowledge and consent of the People’s Commissariat for Education, in order that, when requisitioning takes place, the interests of the state as a whole should be taken into account—primarily the requirements of the large state libraries: the libraries of the Rumyantsev Museum (now the State Library of the U.S.S.R., named after Lenin), the Historical Museum, the Socialist Academy, the universities, and others. In view of this Prokofiev was asked to submit an inventory of the requisitioned library.
    On receipt of Bryusov’s memo, Lenin wrote a letter to Prokofiev (see this volume, Document 235).