Vilnius Jewish Public Library promotes Jewish literature and encourages intercultural cooperation among the communities in Vilnius, thus contributing to the preservation of the country's historical memory and the continuity of Jewish culture in Lithuania.
By collecting the most valuable available books on Jewish history, art, religion, and science, the library not only continues the tradition of the first Jewish public library but also promotes cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue among the city's communities. The space is open for exhibitions, book launches, conferences, discussions, lectures, and other educational and cultural events.
Actively collaborating with the general public and cultural figures, as well as state institutions and non-governmental organisations, the library is guided by principles of transparency and cooperation, making it open to various proposals for collective cultural activities.
How to find us
How to browse the e-catalog
Most of the publications in Vilnius Jewish Public Library are available for borrowing. To find the publication you need, please use the website ibiblioteka.lt.
Extending the deadline
You may keep the borrowed books for one month. As the end of this term approaches, you will receive an email notification with information on how to extend this term. You can do it in the following ways:
You can use the services of the Vilnius Jewish Public Library with a valid reader's card from any library belonging to the LIBIS library network. You can order and register this card by:
Vilnius Jewish Public Library regularly organises meetings with writers and guests from abroad, book launches, discussions, and film screenings. We also offer various educational activities such as lectures on Jewish culture, Yiddish language courses, and creative workshops. You can find the latest information about the library's events on our Facebook page.
If you wish to organise a cultural event at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library, feel free to contact us.
The library is equipped with four computers with internet access. All of them have the Microsoft 365 software installed, and you can use microphones and webcams, as well as video calling applications. You can also work on your laptops as the library offers free Wi-Fi.
Please note that there is no option to print or make copies in the library.
You can also use the following remote services:
Vilnius Jewish Public Library has a unique collection consisting of about 10,000 documents, books, paintings, photographs, music, and video recordings in various languages - English, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, etc.
All publications are about Jews and/or are created by authors of Jewish origin. Readers can find fiction, children's literature, books on philosophy, economics, law, history, art, culinary publications, and more. The library is rich in publications about religion, biographical books, art albums, historical books, literature about the Holocaust, and fiction in foreign languages. Some of the books are unique and are not found in other Lithuanian libraries, such as collections of famous American Jewish painters or photographers, books about Judaism, historical publications, and books in Yiddish.
The collection includes books of great importance regarding the history and culture of Lithuanian Jews, as well as the Jewish heritage in Vilnius. The Yiddish book collection is particularly significant, consisting of more than 800 items, which are intentionally collected publications reflecting Yiddish literature, history, and culture. Readers can find works by classic authors such as Sholem Aleichem, Sholem Asch, Abraham Sutzkever, Peretz Markish, Mendele Mocher Sforim, Chaim Grade, and other authors in Yiddish.
Prof. Irena Veisaitė's Collection
In 2016-2017, Vilnius Jewish Public Library received an exceptional gift from Professor Irena Veisaitė – books personally selected by her from her private library. Based on this gift, the Irena Veisaitė's book collection was established. It contains a significant amount of philosophical, scientific, and fiction literature in Lithuanian, English, German, and Russian. The publications cover a wide range of topics, from everyday history, sociology, and Holocaust studies to international relations, political philosophy, and more.
Israel Lempert's Collection
In 2012, Lara and Ilja Lempert donated a collection of books to the library, commemorating the memory of historian Israel Lempert. The collection, which has been expanded multiple times, was named the Israel Lempert Memorial Book Collection. These books significantly enrich the library's holdings with publications in the Russian language, as well as important publications about Judaism and the history of Lithuanian Jews.
Abram Starobin's Collection
In 2023, Dr. Daniel Starobin, who resides in Israel, donated the book collection from his grandfather Abram Starobin's private library. Abram Starobin (1935–2022) was a member of the Lithuanian Jewish community and specialised in Russian philology. He was a well-known literary collector and a chess enthusiast.
Rabbi Moshe Levin's Collection
On November 20, 2019, Rabbi Emeritus Moshe Martin Levin arrived in Lithuania from San Francisco, USA. He generously donated over 800 books from his personal collection to the library. Most of the publications are in English, and a significant portion of the collection consists of religious literature. The former Consul General in Los Angeles, Darius Gaidys, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated the transfer of the books.
By donating his books to the library, Rabbi Levin aims to remind people that Jews once lived here, that their memory is alive, and that the Litvak (Lithuanian Jewish) legacy will not disappear from Lithuania. He also wishes that the local community would be aware of their cultural, artistic, and diverse heritage, remembering it for the benefit of future generations.
In the spring of 2023, Julius Bieliauskas donated a collection of books featuring Jewish themes that had belonged to his mother, Roza Bieliauskienė. Roza Bieliauskienė (1946–2023) was the chief curator of the restored Jewish Museum, a researcher of Lithuanian Jewish culture, a translator of historical and literary texts from Yiddish, and dedicated her life to the study and promotion of Lithuanian Jewish culture and the preservation of Yiddish.
Fira Bramson-Alpernienė's Collection
On February 24, 2017, entrepreneur, community activist, and the founder and longtime president of the legendary Lithuanian Jewish sports club “Makabi", Semion Finkelstein, made an exceptional donation to the library. For years he had cared for the extensive personal library of his relative, the renowned Judaic and Yiddish expert, and bibliophile Esfira Bramson-Alpernienė, and decided to share it with a broader readership by donating it to Vilnius Jewish Public Library. The collection includes historical, biographical, and fiction literature in English, Yiddish, and German.
In 2019, the library received books from the historian Solomon Atamuk, which were presented by his son Mark Atamuk and daughter Maša Grodnikienė. These books include exceptional publications in Lithuanian, Russian, and Yiddish languages. The collection comprises fiction, historical publications, religious texts, and more. Many of the books bear personal dedications to Solomon Atamuk.
Yiddish Book Collection
In the summer of 2012, the Yiddish Book Center from Massachusetts donated nearly 800 Yiddish-language books to the library. A significant portion of this collection consists of books published in the early 20th century in various Eastern European cities, including Vilnius and Warsaw. The main themes of the collection are history, literature, music, and theatre. Working with this collection is an ongoing process, with most publications available to readers, while some require the careful attention not only of librarians but also of conservators. This collection holds exceptional value and enriches the library's holdings. The majority of the authors of these publications are Litvaks, Jews who were born and raised in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus.
By maintaining close ties with both Lithuanian and foreign writers, public figures, publishers, libraries, and other partners, we continually receive and enrich our collection, striving to offer our readers relevant and uniquely valuable literature. We are grateful to all who contribute books, documents, and other informational resources.
Some historians believe that the history of Jewish libraries in Lithuania dates back to the 16th century when small libraries for the religious could have been established alongside the first synagogues. However, documented evidence leads us to a somewhat later period in the 18th century.
After a city fire in 1748 a list of destroyed buildings was compiled by Bonifacijus Jachimovičius, which shows that there was a building in Vilnius dedicated to books in the Hebrew language. It is unclear whether these books were publicly accessible, but it is known that there were more such buildings. The Enlightenment ideas that were spreading throughout Europe did not bypass the cultural elite of Vilnius Jews. Educated individuals who were engaged in scholarly pursuits accumulated valuable personal libraries in their homes, often privately owned and accessible only to a select few.
The historical tradition of Jewish public libraries in Vilnius dates back to the late 19th century when a Jewish book collector and philanthropist, Mattityahu Strashun (1817–1885), bequeathed his entire personal library for the establishment of the first public Jewish community library. When the public library started operating in 1892, its collection consisted of approximately 7,000 publications in Hebrew and other languages, and it was continuously expanded with books and personal libraries donated by other Jewish scholars and book enthusiasts.
In 1901, the public library, now bearing the name of Mattityahu Strashun, was relocated to a new two-story building next to the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, becoming not only one of the most prominent figures in Vilnius's Jewish community but also a significant cultural centre for the city, promoting a spirit of tolerance and attracting both Jewish community members and the general public. The library thrived until the outbreak of World War II when its building was damaged during the war, and a significant portion of its books was taken abroad. Some of the books eventually returned to Lithuania, while others ended up in New York.
Judaica Research Centre of Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania has prepared a virtual exhibition called "People and Books of the Strashun's Library", dedicated to Mattityahu Strashun's life and his personal collection of publications. The exhibition provides a comprehensive presentation of this renowned educator's legacy.
The Establishment and History of Vilnius Jewish Public Library
In 2010, initiated by the private book collector Wyman Brent, consideration began for the possibility of reviving the tradition of the Jewish public library in Vilnius, based on his donation of a collection consisting of more than 5,000 books on Jewish culture, art, history, religion, and other subjects.
After weighing all conditions, the opinions of interested parties, and evaluating the possibilities of ensuring the continuity of library activities, the quality of services, and public accessibility, it was decided to establish Vilnius Jewish Public Library as a structural unit of Vilnius County Adomas Mickevičius Public Library.
The project to establish Vilnius Jewish library was included in the 2011 plan for commemorating the victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania. The library was given premises on Gedimino Avenue 24 in Vilnius.
On October 5, 2011, Wyman Brent signed an agreement to donate his collection to Vilnius County Adomas Mickevičius Public Library. On December 16 of the same year, the library was officially opened.
On January 1, 2022, Vilnius Jewish Public Library became a separate unit of Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.