Unique Karazin University: Exclusive, Rare and Valuable Publications and Manuscripts of its Library
August 18, 2017 Author: Veronika Vetukhova
Karazin University Central Scientific Library is one of the oldest university-based libraries. It owns a unique collection of book monuments, valuable publications and manuscripts, which has the status of a scientific object of national heritage. There are about 85,000 units — monuments of Ukrainian and world culture of the XII-XXI centuries: manuscripts, archival documents, printed publications in Latin, Greek, Oriental and European languages, collections of incunabula, paleotypes, Slavic incunabula, periodicals of the ХVІІ—ХХ centuries, a significant part of which have no equal in Ukraine and abroad.
The collection of Greek manuscripts is particularly valuable. Its oldest manuscript belongs to the XII century. It is a collection of theological treatises by church fathers, interpretations of Solomon’s “Song of Songs”, “Book of Daniel”, and so on. The original Oriental manuscripts deserve exceptional attention. Among them are the Persian one of 1638, which is a collection of poems by the poet Hakim Rokna Masihi; Turkish government journals of the late XVI century; manuscripts of Indian origin written on non-traditional materials — black paper with white letters and palm leaves; a Chinese art album of the XIX century made on Tetrapanax rice paper.
The oldest Slavic handwritten artifact is the collection of church chants Irmologion dated back to the XV century. Another Interesting book is the unique monument of folk medicine Therapeutic Advisor, or Herbal of 1534 from Ivan the Terrible’s library, which is the first copy of the German incunabula translated into Russian.
The Library also stores some ancient official documents. Among them are Hetman Ivan Mazepa’s universals, decrees signed by Catherine II, Paul I, Alexander I, Napoleon Bonaparte, contracts on parchment signed by French kings, letters of Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi, and more.
The early-printed books are represented by collections of incunabula, palaeotypes, foreign publications of the XVI–XVIII centuries, books of the Cyrillic and civil press of the XVI — early XІХ centuries. The collection of publications of Kharkiv University printing-house, which was among the first ones in Ukraine, has no equal in the country to this day. it contains more than 2,500 copies in Ukrainian, Russian, Latin, German, Greek, and Italian published until 1917.
The library owns a great collection of lifetime publications of the classics of Ukrainian and world science, history, literature: Ivan Kotliarevsky, Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Johann Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Adam Mickiewicz, and many others. It contains books from personal collections of Václav Hanka, Alexander Potebnja, Dmytro Bahalii, Vasyl Danilevsky, Maryna Drynova, Mykola Sumtsov. A significant number of publications have marginalia and autographs of world-famous personalities.
It is one of the largest literature collections in Ukraine’s university libraries. It is the basis of numerous academic investigations of not only Ukrainian scientists but also scientists from the European countries, the USA, Canada, China, Brazil. Rare documents are stored in the virtual libraries World Digital Library and Yevropeana, which provide open access to the world’s cultural heritage, as well as in the electronic archive of the University’s rare editions and manuscripts e-Scriptorium.