E-kataloog ESTER

Artiklite andmebaas ISE

Digitaalarhiiv DIGAR

Mon-Fri 10-20, Sat 12-19.
The book return box is in Endla 3, Mo-Su 7-22


Rare books

| History of the collection | The Content of the collection | New arrivals |

| Publications | Useful links |



The European research libraries have set general chronological borderlines for determining rare books.

 All publications printed in Europe on hand press between around 1455 and 1830 are considered rarities. In addition to chronological border, also territorial or national borderlines, which are connected with the start of the publication of books and their wider distribution in the respective country, are taken into consideration. The year 1860 is agreed to be a borderline for Estonian language rare publications. This also corresponds to the changes that occurred in the print process or ends the period of hand press print in Estonia – in 1846, the Tartu printer and publisher Heinrich Laakmann (1802-1891) was the first to implement the industrial printing press in Estonia. Elsewhere in Europe the industrial print press was taken into use between 1814 and 1850.

The historically and culturally valuable Estonian and foreign publications of the National Library are assembled in the rare books collection. All pre-1831 foreign-language publications and pre-1861 Estonian publications are stored in this collection. One of the best preserved copies of national publications issued at the later period is stored in the Archival Collection.

Of the latest items, selectively are added autographed copies, copies with manuscript corrections and ownership marks, censor copies, bibliophile and de luxe publications.

The rare books collection holds 28 000 items all together, of which the eight oldest originate from the 15th century; 1500 publications are from the 16th-17th centuries.

The items from the rare books collection may be used in the Rare Books & Archives Reading Room. The publications can be found in the online catalogue ESTER and via

the card catalogue located at the Reading Room. The location mark begins with the rare books collection sign „R”. Information on the publications of the rare books collection can also be obtained from thematic e-exhibitions.