Vilnius University Library

Vilnius University Library is one of the oldest public buildings in the city that has not changed its purpose to this day. The library was established in 1570 by the Jesuits, who came to Lithuania at the invitation of Bishop Walerian Protasewicz. In 1579 after the reorganization of Vilnius Jesuit College into Vilnius University, the library became a university’s library.

The early collections of Vilnius University Library are related to the book collections of Lithuanian rulers. Rulers probably started collecting the books in the Middle Ages, but we can certainly only talk about the books of Sigismund I the Old. Several of them are still stored in the university library. Sigismund II Augustus greatly expanded his father’s collection. His agents bought books in various European cities, including Frankfurt, which later became a famous book trade centre. The further growth of the university library was stimulated by donations from the clergy or university students.

The old university library was located in the current Smuglevičius Hall. At that time it had not had such ornate, but it was representative enough. The library moved to the current premises only in the 18th century. The collection of books needed almost a hundred shelves.

Learn more about chained books by clicking this link.