Conference Proceeding: Documenting the Vilna Ghetto Library

Vilna – known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania – had a strong cultural tradition before the Shoah that flourished even after the Vilna Ghetto was established in 1941. One of the most important cultural institutions in the Ghetto was the Vilna Ghetto Library. In many ways, The Vilna Ghetto was unique – it was the only ghetto with a central, officially sanctioned library that functioned during the Shoah.
Documentation from the Vilna Ghetto Library has survived and includes lists of readers in the Library, lists of workers in the Library and even a list of readers who did not return books to the Library. Most of these lists are in the Lithuanian State Central Archive (LCVA) in Vilnius. One such list, “List of Readers with a Subscription to the Vilna Ghetto Library, Arranged in Alphabetical Order,” includes names and addresses of 4,401 Vilna Ghetto residents. This list is now publicly searchable by surname at https://www.litvaksig.org/all-lithuania-database. Although none of the lists of Vilna Ghetto Library patrons appear to include the names of the particular books that specific patrons took out of the Library, several documents from Vilna Ghetto librarians provide insight into which kinds of books were preferred by which sorts of Ghetto patrons.

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