The library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy (1632-1780) in its historical context.
This study of the history of the library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy (1632-1780), is a piece of interdisciplinary research, which looks into the intellectual sources of the long term development of Ukrainian and Russian culture and education. The Kiev Mohyla Academy, founded as a college in 1632 on the Jesuit model, was the first Orthodox seat of higher education in the East Slav lands. The intellectual milieu formed by the Academy in the seventeenth century may be regarded as unique and highly influential for the fostering of culture and education in the whole region. Very little has been written about the library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy and much uncertainty surrounds its history. The building that housed the library was badly damaged by fire in 1780, and there is very little documentary evidence as to what proportion of the library's collections survived that disaster. The main objective of this study is to piece together and evaluate evidence from various sources (printed references, manuscripts, archives, surviving books) so as to reconstruct a picture of the library's history, collections and organisation. Some of these sources have never been used by scholars before. In the seventeenth century the library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy offered Ukrainian intellectuals what may be called a 'heavyweight' introduction to Western printed matter. No less than 90 per cent of the total of around 8,000 volumes kept in this holding by the late eighteenth century were Latin books of a remarkably varied nature, and there are grounds for believing that the proportion was the same a century before. In this way, Kievan scholars had to cope with the full body of literature and thought which had evolved over the previous 200 years or more in the West, and to absorb it at a stroke. Printed books had important implications for knowledge in that they brought about the concept of standardisation, the reorganisation of textual space, the preservative functions of the printed word, and an awareness of the diversity and multiplicity of views which educated people could hold. These theoretical and methodological perspectives help to produce a tentative model of how the introduction of anew, Western, system of cultural symbols and stereotypes may have influenced the development of Kievan learning in the seventeenth century.