Today the Komi National Library occupies a majestic classic style building in the old part of Syktyvkar, the capital city of Komi. It is one of the city's landmarks and a perfect example of the Stalinist architecture known as Socialist Classicism. However, it had taken more than a hundred years before the library's collections found their permanent home.
At the turn of the 20th century the Ust-Sysolsk public library was placed in two modest-sized rooms of the local administrative building. One of them served as a storage room, the other as a reading room.
After the 1918 October revolution, the new Soviet government in Ust-Sysolsk confiscated the houses of the merchants' families for public needs. These were normally two-storey brick and stone mansions that were converted to headquarters of newly formed Bolshevik authorities. In 1920 the public library was transferred to one of such buildings with a stock of 20,000 items. Later, in 1932 the library moved again, this time to merchant Kambalov's former mansion which survived to the present day and now houses the National Children's Library of the Komi Republic.
It was only in 1958 that the National Library of Komi finally got its own new building, designed individually for the library needs, with a spacious reading room that could accommodate 200 visitors and a storage capacity for 500,000 books on seven levels. That was a historical cultural breakthrough and a big change for the reading public who could still remember the dangerously dilapidated condition of the previous home of the library and hours of waiting in a queue before they could get into the tiny and clattered reading room fit for 10 people.
In the 1950s institutions of culture were poorly funded by the government and literally lived from hand to mouth. It took four years to find the money and approve the construction project. The design was borrowed from another library project and refined and elaborated by a group of architects from Komi who added a portico with columns to accentuate the grandeur of the building. The first woman-architect in the region, Feofania Tentiukova, adapted the construction project to the rigid northern climate.
The Komi National Library was built at a time when the Soviet architecture made a conversion to mass construction, standardized design, and low-cost technologies to eliminate shortage of housing. The result was thousands of identical prefabricated concrete blocks of flats built across the country. The library in Syktyvkar was among the last examples of the Stalinist architecture which emphasized interior and exterior luxury of Stalin's 'Empire' style.
In 1992, the library building was granted the status of a regional architectural and historical monument.
Guided tours of the library rooms and depositories are offered for reserved groups. Individual tours can be also arranged at request.