The National Library is an attractive landmark of Belarus. Today the library is more than a rich collection of books. It is a multipurpose center that combines high technologies, ultramodern design and unusual architecture.
The country’s top library was founded in 1922 under the aegis of the Belarusian State University. Back then it was named the Belarusian State and University Library. Initially it contained 60,000 books.
In 1926 the Belarusian State Library became an independent institution. The decision to build new premises for it was made then. Well-known Belarusian architect Georgy Lavrov came up with an unusual design that embodies a mathematical system of coordinates. Today the building is one of the few remaining specimens of the constructivism age in Belarus and home to the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly.
During the Great Patriotic War the Belarusian State Library named after Lenin lost about 83% of its books and special equipment. It managed to evacuate all the rare and early printed books, editions stored in the circulation department and reading halls while the reserve fund building burnt down completely together with what was inside.
Design of the new library building In 1989 a USSR-wide contest was held to choose the best architectural design for the Library. The winners – architects Viktor Kramarenko and Mikhail Vinogradov – suggested the Belarusian diamond design that combines functionality and modern design solutions. The design envisaged the construction of an original building in the shape of a rhombicuboctahedron — a complex polyhedron of 18 squares and 8 trianglesresting on a supporting podium (stylobate). The surface of the diamond is covered by heat-reflecting mirror glass. The authors wanted the cut diamond shape to symbolize the value of knowledge and the endlessness of the perceptible world.
Nevertheless, it took 13 years to get the daring design approved and implemented.
The large-scale construction project, which involved about 5,000 people and 200 enterprises, began in 2012. At peak times up to 3,000 people worked at the site every day 24 hours a day.
The National Library of Belarus was opened by the Belarus President on 16 June 2006.