The Estonian Literary Museum (ELM) is a national scientific and research institution administered by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Its task is to collect, preserve, study, and display the national cultural heritage of Estonia.
According to its charter, the ELM is the central archive of Estonian literature and folklore. It consists of the following departments:
Each of the departments has its own specific tasks. Despite this, co - operation between the different parts of the museum is very efficient.
To accomplish its aims, the ELM organises collection campaigns, conferences, exhibitions and seminars. In its archives collected items are systematised and studied, and also made available to a broader circle of literary enthusiasts through publications, manuscripts, photos, catalogues, and electronic issues. The ELM functions as a public institution where anyone may use materials stored at the archives or order copies of items in public funds.
The history of the ELM began in the year 1909, when the Estonian National Museum and the Archival Library as its subdivision were founded in Tartu. The other archives of the ELM were also created as subdivisions of the Estonian National Museum first: thus, the year 1921 saw the birth of the Estonian Bibliography Foundation (now the bibliography department of the Archival Library), 1927 that of the Estonian Folklore Archives, and 1929 the Estonian Cultural History Archives.
In 1940, the Estonian National Museum Foundation was divided into two state museums: the Estonian Ethnography Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum. The Estonian Folklore Archives and the Estonian Cultural History Archives were renamed as departments of the ELM.
Between 1946 and 1997, the ELM was the only museum that belonged to the institutions of the Academy of Sciences. During that period it functioned as a scientific establishment in which the study and publication of materials were as important as their gathering and storage. On January 1, 1995, the historical names of the departments of the ELM as independent archives were restored.
The Estonian Literary Museum produces a yearly almanac - an assortment of articles and source publications called "Paar sammukest" (Some Small Steps), the 20th issue of which was published in 2003.
As of 1957, the Literary Museum holds an annual two - day conference for researchers of Estonian literature and folklore in December of each year, which are called the Kreutzwald Days in honour of the founder of Estonian national literature.