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International Journal of Libraries and Information Studies

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Breathing Life into Rare Book Collections: The Digitization of the Taiga Skit Old Believers Library

1Tomsk State University, Research Library, Tomsk, Russian Federation

2Tomsk State University, Faculty of History, Tomsk, Russian Federation

This research is supported by Tomsk State University Competitiveness Improvement Program.

Citation Information: Libri. Volume 66, Issue 4, Pages 313–326, ISSN (Online) 1865-8423, ISSN (Print) 0024-2667, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/libri-2016-0010, December 2016

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The number of information resources that are being developed on platforms of university libraries is growing like an avalanche. However, few of them are in great demand and an informative support for scientific research. This problem is especially urgent for the book collections of the Russian Old Believers stored in the libraries of Europe, Asia and America. The Old Believers book collections include manuscripts and printed books from the Middle Ages and author’s works and compilations by contemporary leaders of this religious movement written in the Church Slavonic language in the second half of the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. Placing digital copies of these rare books on the Internet without providing the information about the social and cultural condition of establishment of the Old Believers book collections (i) reduces the role of the libraries to the technical implementers of digitizing projects and (ii) contradicts the current approaches to the study of the textual heritage of the Old Believers – a denomination for which the reception of the Christian practices of reading and writing has become a means of adaptation to the macrosocial changes. The article reports on a study of the views of librarians, researchers and the Old Believers and demonstrates the concept of the “Taiga Skit Old Believers Library” digital resource, showing the unique book collection in the context of peasant colonization of Taiga Siberia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the features of this living religious community. Research is based on experience of a 30-year collaboration between the Research Library of Tomsk State University –Siberia’s oldest university library – and the humanists of Tomsk State University in the field of studying Old Believers family and community libraries, and carried out within the framework of the development program of its Special Collections Department.

Keywords: university library; special collections departments; scientific digital resource; Old Believers book collections

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