The National Library of the Chuvash Republic has a rich history. It was established on January 24th, 1871. The library subscribed to 8 magazines and a few books. Then, the library collections were replenished with about 80 books, including a 13-volume Plyushar’s encyclopedic dictionary, a 14-volume Russian encyclopedic lexicon and a significant amount of fiction, which were in great demand. The library’s credibility grew, and it became a public library in 1892. In this connection the library received a small grant from the town council that allowed a permanent paid librarian.
In 1900 the library had 3987 books and in 1910 – 4663. The library subscribed to such magazines as ”Istoricheskiy vestnik”, “Russkoye bogatstvo” , “Russkaya mysl”, “Vestnik Evropy”. They also bought books in bookshops. The richest collections were those of Russian and foreign fiction. The most popular foreign authors were Mayne Reid, Jules Verne, Fenimore Cooper, the Russian ones were Ivan Turgenev, Aleksey Pisemskiy, Pavel Pecherskiy, Nikolay Gogol. The library had neither books and newspapers in the Chuvash language nor materials about Chuvashia. The library did not subscribe even to the first Chuvash newspaper “Hypar” which had been published since January, 1906. In 1917 there were 162 readers in the library, but it did not acquire any new books. The library was visited by young workers, pupils of technical colleges and employees. In this period 4 librarians worked in the library. The library was situated in a beautiful private building in Karl Marx Street, the first reading room appeared.
The year 1938 was very important in the library’s history. On March 1st, 1938, the city library has been transformed into the Library of the Chuvash Republic and was named after Maxim Gorki. The first librarians in the Cheboksary public library were the teacher K. Mikhailov, the doctors E. Vishnevski, E. Astronomov, E. Gerasimov and W. Nikolaev. At the beginning of the year 1946 the library’s collections contained 93 thousand books. 22 employees worked in the library. The same year the library moved into a building in K. Ivanov Street.
In April, 1994, the library was given the status of the National Library. Nowadays the library employs 132 staff members, of whom 107 have higher education. Every day the library welcomes more than 500 readers. The collections of the library contain more than two million items including more than 58 thousand items in the Chuvash language, making the Chuvash collection the largest in the republic. In 2000 the Public Centre for Law Information opened its doors to the library users, and in 2003 the Centre of Open Access to Internet was launched. Today, the National Library of the Chuvash Republic is a scientific public library and a regional methodic centre.
In the years 2006-2009 the main building of the library was reconstructed. The reconstruction made it possible to organize a modern space which is aimed at serving the readers and fits the requirements of the informational environment.
During the years 2009-2011 the construction of the annex to the main library building was conducted. Here are placed the Chuvash Regional Centre of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, Room of State Symbols, Electronic Reading Room, Room for Videoconferences, an assembly hall.
To meet the information needs of blind and visually impaired users, a special room was opened, equipped with a personal computer with means of speech synthesis, Braille consoles and a device for scanning and reading. The entrance to the building is provided with appropriate ramps for the low-mobility groups of the population.
In 2012, Technology and Innovation Support Center was created, which provides free access to the Russian and foreign information resources in the field of intellectual property.
In 2012, on the basis of Foreign Literature Department the Hall of National Cultures was opened. It provides access to the literature of the peoples of Russia. The activities of the Hall are aimed at interaction with the national associations of the Chuvash Republic, creation of conditions for preservation of the cultures of the peoples living on the territory of the republic.
In 2013, the library was reorganized: the State Book Chamber of the Chuvash Republic became a structural unit of the library.
In 2014, the children’s room “Intellectuarium” was opened for free classes for parents with children from 1 to 6 years. The room is beautifully decorated, equipped with modern children’s furniture; all sorts of educating, environmentally friendly toys and materials for creativity were purchased.
The same year the Center of Orthodox Book “Radonezh” was opened. The main directions of its work are spiritual enlightenment, patriotic education, methodological support of the public libraries of Chuvashia in preservation of the Orthodox traditions.
In September 2016, the Chinese Culture Center was opened on the basis of Foreign Literature Department. The main partner of the Center is the Library of Anhui Province of the Department of Culture of the Government of Anhui Province (PRC). The main purpose of the Center is popularization of the Chinese culture on the territory of Chuvashia.