Odessa Regional Universal Scientific Library named after M.S. Grushevsky is one of the largest and oldest book collections in Odessa, with a history of 125 years. The fund consists of 1.19 million volumes.
The public library was established on June the 1st, 1875, under the auspices of the Odessa Society for Mutual Assistance of Jewish Clerks, then the largest in the Russian Empire. In the first year of its existence, its fund amounted to 1,138 volumes; the number of readers was 127 people.
In 1885, a branch of books in the ancient Hebrew language “HEBRAICA” was opened in the Library, which in 1888 numbered 2000 volumes. The department was the only and best repository of ancient Jewish literature in Russia after the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg. In the same year, the JUDAICA department was opened at the Library.
In 1920, after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Library was nationalized. At first, it was called in several ways: “Central Communal Library”, “Central District Library”, “October Revolution”. The Library grew very quickly, after reorganization and merging with other libraries, its fund numbered 75 thousand books and it became the center of library activities of the district and the city of Odessa.
In 1927 the book fund of the Library numbered 150,793 books, there were 17,765 readers. On average, the library was visited by 1,014 readers per day. The village department was engaged in providing rural libraries with books and training librarians. The staff of the Library in those years was composed by 48 specialists.
In 1937, the Library was named after V.I. Lenin. In 1940, it served 27 thousand readers, had a book fund of 255,598 copies. In addition to the city libraries, the interlibrary loan served 33 district and 16 rural libraries. The Library staff grew to 93 people.
During World War II and the Romanian occupation
In 1941, during the defence of Odessa, the library did not stop its work until October 15, 1941, continuing to serve readers on a subscription and in the reading room, as well as hospitals and evacuation points. After the Romanian-German troops entered Odessa on October 16, 1941, the Library was occupied by the Romanian military unit, and only on November 27, 1941, it resumed its work. During the occupation the Library was damaged: more than 100,000 books were thrown off the shelves, some furniture disappeared. Throughout the winter of 1941, there was no heating.
In April 1942, the export of literature to Romania began. The so-called “Trophy Commission” by order of the Romanian authorities exported to Romania more than 1,000 books and magazines of encyclopaedic, historical, religious nature. 90 volumes of Marxist-Leninist literature were destroyed, together with all books in Hebrew. The total amount of books taken out of the Library was 4970.
Throughout 1942, the Library was closed. Only in January 1943, the Romanian authorities allowed its reopening. On April 10, 1944, Odessa was liberated from the Romanian-German occupiers. On April 18 the Library reopened again to readers.
After the German-Soviet war
In the 1950s, the Library provided methodological and practical assistance to district and city libraries, village and club libraries, collective farms and various departments and institutions. The book fund of the Library amounted to 300 thousand volumes, its readers were 21.5 thousand people.
In 1966, the Library became a scientific one. Specialized departments for agriculture, technology, art, foreign languages literature and local lore sector were established. Various readers’ associations worked in the Library: the local history club “Stars of Odessa”, the club of young poets, the club “Dachnyk”.
On July 8, 1998, by a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the library was named after Mykhailo Grushevsky, politician and historian, who was one of the most important figures of the Ukrainian national revival of the early 20th century.