Human Rights in Ukraine

09.12.2001 | O. Zviagintseva, Kharkov

Seminar of librarians in Moscow


On 10-11 March the directorate of ‘Memorial’ organized in Moscow a seminar devoted to the work of libraries of NGOs.

The main purpose of the seminar is the preparation of librarians to the creation of a united library network of human rights protection organizations with a united electronic catalog and with transferring to electronic form the complete texts of the most demanded books, as well as with the organization of common completing the libraries.

Librarians from the regional branches of ‘Memorial’ in Russia and Ukraine were invited to the seminar. Ukraine was represented by the chairman of the ‘Donetsk Memorial’ A. P. Bukalov, the librarian of this organization O. A. Bukalova and the author of this note O. P. Zviagintseva, the librarian of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection.

The seminar was held in a small conference hall of the Moscow ‘Memorial’ in Malaya Karetnaya St., 12. The seminar was opened by the executive director of the international society ‘Memorial’ E. B. Zhemkova and the manager of the Moscow ‘Memorial’ library B. I. Belenkin, who told about the agenda of the seminar and the problems to be solved. The participants of the seminar from Saint-Petersburg, Ukhta, Tomsk, Ekaterinburg, Perm, Bratsk, Kharkov, Donetsk and a tiny settlement Yagodnoye of the Magadan oblast made short communications about the work of their libraries and about the contingent of their readers. The report of V. S. Serbskiy from Bratsk was especially interesting. He created a unique in the world library of the Russian poetry of the 20th century. This library counts tens of thousands of books, many of which have autographs of the authors. The library is not catalogued, and a number of books in it is unknown. Serbskiy’s granddaughter measured only the length of bookshelves where the books of poetry stand in two and somewhere in three rows. The total length is about 300 meters. Beside poetry there are books on the development of Siberia, memoirs and big department of materials on Protopop Avvakum — the first great Russian writer and the first political exile to Bratsk. Another noticeable part of books in the library is devoted to human rights. The library works practically round the clock, without holidays.

After a short interval E. Zhemkova showed the participants of the seminar the building of ‘Memorial’, whose walls are decorated with a great number of photos of well-known dissidents, including A. D. Sakharov, P. G. Grigorenko, V. Stus. There are also copies of documents from concentration camps since the times of building the Belomorkanal. The participants also visited the library, which contains a lot of books on the history of the totalitarianism, samizdat, memoirs, periodical editions.

Then we met with J. Brown, a cultural attache from the US embassy, as well as with E. Johnson, the attache on libraries of the US embassy. We also heard short speeches of M. Levner, the director of the Congress Library Bureau in Moscow. The participants of the seminar with great interest heard the information on the work of this largest library in the world. When the seminar resumed its work, we heard the report of M. D. Afanasyev, the director of the public historic library in Moscow.

Then we kept a ‘round table’. During it we were discussing the problems of perfecting the system of acquisition books and tried to develop a joint project of acquisition books by libraries of ‘Memorial’ and related organizations. Agents of the publishing house ‘Vozrozhdenie’ offered a list of literature that can be bought from the stores of the publishing house.

E. Liushin, the director of the CAF library, gave a lot of useful information, giving contact addresses of the largest organizations, which specialize in publishing reference literature about grant-giving funds. He told about reference books kept in his library, on opportunities to obtain grants for supporting libraries, on the rules of compiling applications for taking part in a competition to obtain grants. The problem of library fund rising was concerned also in the speech of E. B. Zhemkova, the executive director of the international ‘Memorial’.

In the conclusion of the first day of the seminar Aleksandr Kostinskiy, the deputy head of the department of electronic libraries, gave an emotional report on the role of electronic libraries in the future. He told that the avalanche growth of information will make librarians unite their efforts for creating a network of electronic libraries. Then practical studies were held on the topic ‘Library sites in the Internet’.

On the second day the round table was held again. The organizers of the seminar offered a questionnaire with the following questions to be discussed:

For whom do you work?

What is the attitude of the local community to you?

What is your experience of successful unions and conflict situations?

On the second day we also exchanged the opinions on the topic: ‘Conceptions of activities and ways of development of ‘Memorial’ libraries’. The leading reporters were the head of the department of sociological and psychological studies of the Russian state youth library and a researcher of this department. Professor of the chair of library science of the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts V. K. Kluev delivered a report on the juridical guarantees of library activities, their rights and duties. The assistant professor of the same chair E. M. Yastrebova told about library marketing.

Representatives of the youth center of human rights and juridical culture told about their work and those books which they use in teaching at elementary and secondary schools. These textbooks are published by the said center. They presented some of these books to the participants of the seminar.

Some participants gave interesting reports, describing their libraries. They were: D. A. Brodskiy, the director of Moscow independent library (this library is situated in his own apartment); I. A. Shchekotova, the director of the library of the museum named after A. D. Sakharov; L. Staniukovich, a librarian from the ‘Holocaust library’. The ‘Holocaust library’ library counts about 1000 items on the holocaust on the territory of the former USSR, only one third of the library is in Russian. The library works only as a reading-hall.

During the round table all the participants spoke on the questions suggested in the questionnaire. It appeared that comparatively few people use ‘Memorial’ libraries, mainly they are students and teachers of law schools and humanitarian institutes, school teachers and older people, who suffered much from the totalitarian regime.

In the end of the seminar the computer program ‘Library-2000’ was demonstrated to the participants of the seminar. Then questions concerning the creation of joint catalogues and databases of the united computer network of ‘Memorial’ libraries were discussed. In conclusion the participants of the seminar were asked to tell their opinions on the seminar and wishes for perfecting the work of similar seminars in the future. It was decided that the organizers would send to the participants detailed questionnaires. These questionnaires will, in particular, contain questions on other topics to be discussed and on the forms of joint work and cooperation.

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