KETĀB-ḴĀNA-YE MELLI‑E TĀJIKESTĀN (Taj. Kitobḵonai millii Tojikiston), the Tajikistan National Library (PLATE I), located in Dushanbe.

The Tajikistan National Library was established on 1 January 1933 on the groundwork of the Dushanbe city library. Named after the outstanding Persian poet Abu’l-Qāsem Ferdowsi, the library in 1993 was granted the status of national library (Borodin, p. 121; Salimov, p. 3). In 2007, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon commissioned the construction of a new building for the Tajikistan National Library to be located in the heart of Dushanbe near the Palace of the Nation, that is, the presidential palace. The foundation stone was laid on 4 September 2007 by the president (“Iftitoh,” p. 2), who on that occasion officially announced that every year the 4th of September must be celebrated in Tajikistan as the Day of the Book. The new building of the library, looking onto Rudaki Park, was officially opened on the eve of Nowruz, 20 March 2012 (ibid.). The former building of the Tajikistan National Library (Kitobḵonai Firdavsi; PLATE II) has become a children’s library.

The impressive, nine-story white building of the new Tajikistan National Library (PLATE I), which is portrayed on the 200-somoni banknotes, is an example of the gigantomania shown by the Tajik government in the post-Soviet period. Hailed as the largest of its kind in Central Asia (“Kit­ob­ḵonai millii Tojikiston,” p. 2), the new library stands 52 m high with an area of 44,078 m2, with 25 reading halls, 1,458 seats, and 10 conference halls. It also has a canteen that accommodates 558 people, and a café with 215 seats. The number of employees is reported as 520 (“Iftitoh,” p. 2; Salimov, p. 3).

With its 28-stack rooms, the library has a capacity for ten million books (Salimov, p. 3; Zarindast). The library’s international partners (Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan) have contributed journals and books. Information about the actual holdings of the library is contradictory: 2.5 million according to an expert estimate (Zarindast) vs. over 6 million items officially, of which 3.1 million were acquired from the Ferdowsi Library and 2.6 million were donated by various Tajik and foreign public institutions and by Tajik citizens; there are also 500,000 books in electronic format (Salimov, p. 3). The library has a shelf catalogue and an electronic catalogue available onsite but not online yet. The library publishes Dunyoi kitob (since 2012), which replaced Kitobdor (2006-10), the periodical of the former Ferdowsi Library.

Manuscripts. In May 1933, the scientific research unit of the Tajik People’s Commissariat for Education transferred the first collection of manuscripts to the Ferdowsi Library, where a Department of Oriental Manuscripts started its activity in 1934 (Komilzoda, p. 24). In 1953, a part of the manuscripts’ fund of the Ferdowsi Library (3,290 manuscripts) was transferred by government decree to the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences (q.v.), where a Department of Oriental Studies and Handwritten Heritage was created in 1955 (Komilzoda, p. 24; Rahimov, p. 44). From the 1950s onward, the Department of Oriental Manuscripts of the Ferdowsi Library continued its activity of gathering manuscripts and lithographed books as they became accessible in the country. By 1999, the library’s holdings had come to over 16,000 rare books, 2,206 of which were manuscripts: 1,494 in Persian, 546 in Arabic, and 166 in Turkic languages (Dodhudoeva and Dodhudoeva, p. 40). By 2009, the number of manuscripts had increased to 2,256 (Komilzoda, p. 24).

In 2012, when the fund originally located at the Ferdowsi Library was moved to the new building of the Tajikistan National Library, the number of manuscripts was 2,267 (“Kitobḵonai millī”). The manuscripts are related to several subject areas: history, hagiography, religion, ethics, Sufism, medicine, philosophy, geography, literature, biography, and memoirs (Dodhudoeva and Dodhudoeva, p. 40). The range of the manuscript holdings of the library spans seven centuries (13th-19th centuries) and includes the works of outstanding Persian classical authors, among them Ferdowsi’s Šāh-nāma, Saʿdi’s Golestān and Bustān, Hafez’s Divān, Jāmi’s Toḥfat al-aḥrār, Bidel’s Divān, and other works (Komilzoda, p. 24). The manuscripts are catalogued by Yunusov and Karomatulloeva (Fehrast, covering over 300 items) and Bahrāmiān and Yunosof (over 1,200 items).


ʿA. Bahrāmiān and ʿA. Yunosof, Fehrest‑e nosḵahā-ye ḵaṭṭi‑e ketāb-ḵāna-ye melli‑e Tājikestān, 2 vols., Qom, 2001-10.

O. R. Borodin, “Prazdnik Natsional’noi Biblioteki Tadzhikistana,” Bibliotekovedenie, nos. 5-6, 1993, pp. 121-23.

K. Dodhudoeva and L. Dodhudoeva, “Manuscrits orientaux du Tadjikistan: la collection Semenov,” Cahiers d’Asie centrale 7, 1999, pp. 39-55.

Fehrasti dastnavishoi tojiki forsii Kitobḵonai Davlatii RSS Tojikiston ba nomi Abulqosim Firdavsi, ed. A. Yunusov and N. Karomatulloeva, 3 vols., Dushanbe, 1971-83.

“Iftitohi Kitobḵonai milli va muloqoti Sarvari davlat bo ziyoiyoni kišvar,” Sadoi mardum, 27 March 2012, p. 2.

“Kitobḵonai milli—nigohdorandai merosi ilmī va farhangii ḵalqi tojik,” formerly available at (accessed 2 May 2012).

“Kitobḵonai millii Tojikiston dar Osiyoi Markazi benazir ast,” Jumhuriyat, 27 March 2012, p. 2.

Š. Komilzoda, “Fondi tilloii Kitobḵonai Firdavsi,” Kitobdor, no. 6, 2009, pp. 24-25.

L. Kozyreva and A. L., Chromov, eds., Biblioteke imeni A. Firdavsi, 50 let: Sbornik stateĭ, Dushanbe, 1983.

"Muhofizi arzišhoi farhangii millat: Musohibai ruznomanigor Askar Abdusamadov bo direktori Kitobḵonai millii Tojikiston, akademik Nosirjon Salimov,” Adabiyot va san’at, 6 September 2012, p. 12.

A. Rahimov, “Kitobḵonai Davlatii RSS Tojikiston ba nomi Abulqosim Firdavsi,” in Èntsiklopediyai adabiyot va san’ati tojik II, Dushanbe, 1989, pp. 44-45.

N. Salimov, “Maḵzani ḵirad: Ma’lumot doir ba Kitobḵonai millii Jumhurii Tojikiston,” Dunyoi kitob, no. 1, 30 August 2012, p. 3.

A. Yunusov et al., eds., “Ruḵati nus­ḵahoi ḵattii Šu’bai dastḵathoi Šarq va kitobhoi nodiri Kitob­ḵonai millii Jumhurii Tojikiston ba nomi Abulqosim Firdavsi,” Kitobdor, no. 6, 2009, pp. 26-30; 7, 2010, pp. 35-40; 8, 2010, pp. 35-40.

K. Zarindast, “Tajikistan’s National Library Needs 7.5 Million More Books,” BBC News Asia, video report available online at (accessed 29 August 2013).

(Evelin Grassi)

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