Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 20, pages 482484 | Download Citation


THE latest conflagration at Irkutsk has destroyed all the libraries of the town—the Public Library, the private one of M. Vaghine (which contained the unpublished MSS. of Gedenstroni), and that of the Siberian branch of the Russian Geographical Society, which latter contained a great variety of works about Siberia, some of them being very rare, a great number of works and MSS. on Buddhism, numerous collections of publications of foreign scientific societies (European, Asiatic, and American) who exchanged their publications with the Siberian branch, and a large assortment of works on physical sciences and natural history. The destruction of this library will be a very great loss to science altogether, if a new one be not immediately created. It would be difficult for a man of science inhabiting a great city or even the smallest town in Western Europe to understand the important services which this library—the only one in Central Asia—has rendered in the development of scientific knowledge and in giving a scientific character to the geographical exploration of Siberia. Many scientific men when staying in Irkutsk have largely made use of the library (we may name among them the well-known president of the Berlin Geographical Society, Prof. Bastian, and quote his interesting notice on Irkutsk), and the writer of these lines can testify, from his own experience, how immense were the services rendered by this library to him and to his young friends when they began their studies for scientific geographical explorations of Siberia at Irkutsk, i.e., at a distance of some thousand miles from all intellectual centres. We think that all those who have the further development of scientific exploration at heart, should do their utmost to assist in creating a new and good library in that centre for the exploration of Siberia.

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