Library for Foreign Literature was founded in 1921. From the very first steps the main mission of the Library was support for learning foreign languages and cultures through the masterpieces of foreign classic literature. In order to increase the number of its readers, in 1926 the
Library initiated the courses for learning foreign languages.

In 1990-ties the Library established its Publishing centre (which primarily specializes on memoirs; philosophical and religious literature) and started an initiative on founding cultural centres of different countries (now there are 10, such as the one of French-speaking world, the USA, Japan, the Netherlends etc.). These centers comprise a tiny copy of a typical library of those countries and also function as cultural and educational centres.

Its book collection currently  comprises about 5 mln items, including books and periodicals, in more than 140 languages. There is a special Rare Book Research Department (with more than 41 thnd volumes, including 22 incunables) and the Conservation and Preservation Department.