History of Libraries in Almaty

First Libraries

In the late 19th century, when Almaty was known as Verny, the first libraries emerged, becoming the starting point for the development of library culture in the city. The earliest mention of a library in Almaty is the Kazakh-Russian Second-Class Library, opened in 1858. It was established at the Kazakh-Russian School, which became the first educational institution in the city. The library was intended for students and provided them with access to books and educational materials. In 1887, the City Municipality Library was established with the aim of providing access to books and informational resources to the city’s residents. It was a time when the printed word played an important role in disseminating knowledge and culture.

Soviet Period

During the Soviet era, libraries in Almaty received a new impetus for development, significantly influencing their role and functions. New libraries and branches were opened, including central and specialized libraries, to meet the growing population’s needs for access to knowledge and information. In 1931, the Gorky City Scientific Library was opened. This library became one of the largest and most prestigious libraries in Almaty. It provided access to an extensive collection of scientific and artistic works, encyclopedias, reference books, and periodicals. The library also held lectures, organized cultural events, and exhibitions. In 1933, a library was established at the Alma-Ata State University. It served as a scientific research and educational center, providing access to a wide range of literature and scientific resources, contributing to the development of education and science in the region. An important milestone in the development of library services was the establishment of the M. O. Auezov Central Library in 1941. This library became a symbol of Almaty’s cultural heritage and is the largest library in Kazakhstan. It amassed a rich collection of books, including unique rare editions, and became a center for research and study of the Kazakh people’s cultural heritage.

Modern Trends

The modern libraries in Almaty are actively incorporating information technologies to stay up-to-date with current trends and meet the needs of their visitors. They create electronic catalogs that allow users to search and order books online, as well as provide access to e-books and magazines through their websites or dedicated applications.

Contemporary libraries in Almaty also actively organize various events aimed at attracting visitors and fostering cultural community development. They strive to become not only places for storing and accessing information but also centers for cultural exchange and interaction.

The libraries in Almaty also collaborate extensively with other institutions and organizations, including educational institutions, research institutes, cultural centers, and museums. They organize joint events, exchange exhibits and information, which contribute to strengthening cultural ties and expanding access to knowledge and information.

Overall, the modern libraries in Almaty are actively adapting to technological and social changes, aiming to provide their visitors with broad access to information, education, and cultural opportunities. They continue to play an important role in the development of society and the cultural life of the city.

History of Centralized Library System of Almaty City

The Centralized Library System of Almaty City (Library) was established in 1984. The creation of the CLSA was preceded by the centralization of libraries in the city, which was carried out in three stages. In July 1976, children’s libraries were centralized, followed by the centralization of 21 public libraries in January 1977.

By the decision of the Almaty City Executive Committee of the Council of People’s Deputies, “On the merger of the central systems of children’s and public libraries of Almaty city” (No. 231) on January 24, 1984, the centralized systems of children’s and public libraries were merged, and the Centralized Library System of Almaty City was organized.

The main goal of the State Institution “Centralized Library System of Almaty City” is to provide library and bibliographic services to the population and meet their cultural needs.

In the year 2000, which was declared the “Year of Supporting Culture” by the first President of the Republic, the Library of Kazakhstani Writers (BKW) was opened based on Branch No. 13 in Almaty.

In September 2000, at a meeting of the Maslikhat of Almaty City Administration, the topic of culture was discussed, where the work of the Library and proposals for improving library services to the population of Almaty were presented.

By the resolution of the Akimat of Almaty City No. 1/190 dated March 26, 2015, “On the Reorganization of Certain Communal State Institutions of the Department of Culture of Almaty City,” the institutions “Centralized Library System of Almaty City,” “State Youth Library named after Zhambyl,” and “State Children’s Library named after S. Begalin” were merged into the State Institution “Centralized Library System of Almaty City” under the Department of Culture of Almaty City.

In 2017, as part of the “Ruhani Zhangyru” program aimed at creating a modern complex of service facilities and a creative atmosphere for communication and reading, the modernization of the Library’s branches began.

In 2018, the Youth Library named after Zhambyl underwent modernization. The library now features a modern open space with areas for working with books, electronic information, viewing documentaries, educational films, conducting presentations, and intellectual clubs.

In 2019, five branches of the Library underwent modernization:

Branch No. 15; Branch No. 20; Branch No. 24; Branch No. 32; Branch No. 33.

In 2020, the following ten branches of the Library were modernized:

Chekhov Central City Library; Library of Kazakhstani Writers; City Children’s Library named after Krylov; Branch No. 1; Branch No. 4; Branch No. 6; Branch No. 26; Branch No. 29; Branch No. 30; Branch No. 44.

Following the modernization, the Department of Culture of Almaty City organized a press tour with the participation of journalists from leading media outlets in Almaty and bloggers. The branches of the Library not only acquired a new look but also changed their working hours to be open daily from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, without weekends. After the modernization, each branch saw an increase in seating capacity, the creation of various areas for individual work, communication, events, and internet halls.

In December 2020, as part of the implementation of the “City without Outskirts” strategy, the Alatau District, a new creative space called “ALATAU CREATIVE HUB,” was opened. The center provides opportunities for programming education, development of creative industries, creative potential, and virtual art.

In 2021, a new format library called “Almaly Kitaphanasy” opened its doors at 46 Maulenov Street. It features multifunctional areas, including a reading hall, coworking spaces, and demonstration platforms.

Currently, Almaty has 28 branches that are part of the Library, implementing the state policy in the fields of culture and education through the active development and improvement of the city’s library system and providing access to literary and informational resources for the city’s residents.