Estonian libraries are divided into several larger groups, who are cooperating actively, despite having different thematic delineations. The common goal is to collect and store documents and make them available to readers.

The National Library of Estonia is entrusted with:

  • collecting, storing and making accessible of national cultural goods and information resources;
  • research and development activities;
  • acting as parliamentary and research library;
  • acting as development centre for libraries and a cultural centre.

The Estonian Children’s Literature Centre collects Estonian and international children’s books and children’s periodicals, book illustrations and other specialized materials, and conducts research on children’s literature.

The Repository Library of Estonia is entrusted with the task of setting up a national repository of little-used publications, including:

  • audio books, magazines and newspapers;
  • documents in Braille and electronic format;
  • tactile books for visually impaired persons or persons with other impairments hindering reading regular text.

Estonian Library for the Blind services people with vision impairment or other disabilities, disorders or diseases that prevent them from reading normal writing. Those people have a chance to order audio books to their home and to use the Web Library, which holds 2,400 audio books, newspapers and magazines in Estonian and foreign languages. The library and association for the blind also has DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) books.

Public libraries

Public libraries are municipal libraries whose work is supervised by local governments. Where a town or rural municipality has several public libraries, one of them can be appointed the central public library. The collections of public libraries are universal in their composition, containing documents of different types in different languages which correspond to the basic needs of the inhabitants of the areas.

School libraries

Pursuant to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, every school must have a library. If a school does not have a library, the school’s students are offered library services by the local public library.

Research and archives libraries

The tasks of research libraries are collecting, preserving, processing and making accessible to all readers of scientific information. In addition to the National Library of Estonia, the libraries of six national universities function as research libraries.

Archives libraries collect and preserve publications published in the Estonian language and in and about Estonia, and participate in preparing the national bibliography.

Specialized libraries

Specialized libraries usually function as institutional libraries.

E-items and e-services

The state supports digitisation and e-publication of high literature. Thanks to this, more than 160 noteworthy works of literature have been made available to readers in DIGAR – the digital archive of the national library. E-books can be downloaded and read by everyone in an e-reader, computer or smart device.

DIGAR is the digital archive, or e-library environment of the Estonian National Library, which contains books, newspapers, magazines, maps, music sheets, photos, postcards, posters, illustrations, audio books, and music files.

ESTER is a common electronic catalogue of all Estonian libraries.

URRAM is a web-based system, which allows the use of many library services via the Internet. URRAM provides an overview of all the items in school, museum and specialised libraries.

ELLU is the e-library of Tallinn Central Library, which gives access to the work of Estonian authors and books both in Estonian and Russian.

Index Scriptorum Estoniae (ISE) is a public and freely accessible Internet database of articles published in Estonian newspapers, magazines, collections of articles, and other serial publications. New material is added to the database each day by 12 Estonian libraries. Administrative and development matters are handled by the ISE working group of the ELNET Consortium database.

DEA stands for digitised Estonian newspapers and is a public, freely accessible database of old Estonian-language newspapers. DEA contains a selection of Estonian newspapers from the years 1821 to 1944, plus some Estonian-language newspapers issued abroad after 1944.

The Red Book of Estonian Publications is a list of publications that are considered valuable for our cultural memory. The nominees are chosen on the basis of their cultural worth, availability, preservation risks and condition.

The portal of regional studies (Kodulugu) is a common system of Estonian public libraries for storing regional information. From the system one can search for articles and other items related to a specific area, and to read longer texts and encyclopaedic materials.

Last amended: 07-01-2016 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of Culture