You are here
National Library of Latvia
The National Library of Latvia, also known as the Castle of Light, tops the list of 21st century cultural projects in Latvia – a modern and artistic, world-class information and cultural center.
At the National Library of Latvia:
- Find the books you are looking for
- View the various exhibitions
- Participate in public discussions and presentations
- Enjoy concerts in Ziedonis Hall, especially suitable for chamber music, choral, as well as acoustic music
- Watch cinema films
- Have a breathtaking view of Riga from the 8th floor, or up to the 12th floor together with a guide
The National Library offers excursions, where visitors can learn everything about the Library building, reading rooms and services. Excursions are available from Mon until Sat during business hours. Prior application on working days (Mon-Fri) from 9:00 to 17:00 by phone 22022920 or email: [email protected]
Floors 1 to 8 can also be visited individuallyExcursion fee: 2 EUR per person or 20 EUR for a group with 15 persons.
Excursions are offered in Latvian, Russian, English and German.
The mission of the Latvian National Library is to create a collection of national literature, support higher education, research and lifelong education, as well as ensure activities and literature for children to promote reading.
The core of the more than four million units large National Library collection is the national collection, which consists of Latvian and foreign editions on Latvia and Latvians, works by Latvian authors. Readers can also access the museum’s special collections – rare books and manuscripts, written materials, audiovisual resources, recordings, art and music, graphic documents, small prints, maps, etc.
Dainu skapis or The Cabinet of Folksongs
It is a filing cabinet of the Latvian folksongs, containing the original manuscripts of the texts published in the edition "Latvju dainas" (1894–1915, in 6 volumes). Dainu skapis was made in Moscow in 1880 according to the design of Krišjānis Barons (1835–1923), the compiler and editor of the aforementioned edition. The folksong manuscripts in the cabinet are arranged in 70 drawers, each having 20 sections, while three larger drawers hold correspondence of Krišjānis Barons and other valuable documents. In total, there are 268 815 paper slips (sized 3 x 11 cm) with folksong texts handwritten by hundreds of collectors. The drawers are marked with the numbers of the song types and volumes used in "Latvju dainas".
Since 1940 Dainu skapis is held by the Archives of Latvian Folklore. For several decades it was preserved at the building of the Academy of Sciences. In 2014 it was moved to the new building of the National Library of Latvia – the Castle of Light.
In 2001 Dainu skapis was recognised as a cultural heritage item of international level and inscribed on the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Register.
Castle of Light
Composer Jazeps Vitolins’ ballad for mixed choir - Gaimas pils, or Castle of Light is a Latvian music classic and a symbol of the Song and Dance Festival, thus the National Library building was created as a symbol and reminder about the country’s most crucial historical turning points leading to the creation of the Latvian state, while at the same time celebrating the re-birth of Latvia and the renewal of its rich cultural collection.
The Latvian National Library was established in 1919. The new building was designed by the well-known Latvian-American architect Gunars Birkerts. In 2008, construction of the new building commenced, and was unveiled to the public in 2014.