An article provided by the National Library of Estonia.
The National Library of Estonia, established in 1918 as a parliamentary library, today fulfills five major roles. As a national library, we collect, preserve and make accessible publications issued in or related to Estonia. The second role is that of a parliamentary library, providing information services to the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) and other constitutional institutions. The third task is to function as a research library focusing on the humanities and social sciences. The fourth role is to act as the development centre for the Estonian library network, and the fifth role is to be a cultural centre.
The Library’s physical holdings contain over 3,3 million items. Our digitised and born-digital materials are stored in the digital archives DIGAR and DIGAR Estonian Newspapers. We build and manage the Estonian Web Archive and the Estonian National Bibliography Database ERB. Estonia is the first country in the world to collect and store all digital output-ready files as legal deposit copies starting from 2017.
The National Library of Estonia is also a pleasant meeting place, located in the centre of Tallinn, the country’s capital city. The 8-storey library building (2 floors underground for stacks) was completed at the time when the Republic of Estonia regained its independence, hence its status as a symbol carrying the Estonian national identity. The architect Raine Karp designed the building as a pyramid, made of local limestone. Floors 6 to 8 are quiet areas for reading and research, floor 5 is a communication area with comfy and colourful interior, offering meeting rooms with modern equipment which are available free of charge for up to 3-hour use. They have become a popular venue for pop-up offices, student group work and business meetings of nearby companies.
The reading area is covered with free WiFi. All our 15 reading rooms provide the service of information specialists. Readers needing tailored advice on searching and processing information can use our personal information service. We also offer training courses for school students, librarians and specialists in different areas, and organise the traditional summer school for Estonian memory institutions.
The Library’s manifold cultural environment consists of a wide range of events that have already become traditional, many of them organised in cooperation with other institutions - the Tallinn Book Fair in spring and the Book Market in December, the Native Language Day, the contest and exhibition 25 Best Designed Books in Estonia, the GIS Day dedicated to geographic information systems, the Cultural Week with its diversity of free cultural events, etc. Since 1998 the Library has been granting the Eduard Wiiralt Art Award with the support of partners to treasure modern Estonian graphic art.
The library building has become a home for two small theatres – Varius and VAT Theatre, the latter being the oldest Estonian independent troupe who staged its first productions in 1987. The Library’s Conference Centre offers different size conference and meeting rooms and annually hosts around 500 events ranging from large international conferences and fairs to smaller presentations and meetings.