Book traditions on eve of Belarusian printing’s big 500th anniversary

Librarian community proposes naming 2017 as the Year of Frantsisk Skorina in Belarus

Librarian community proposes naming 2017 as the Year of Frantsisk Skorina in Belarus, notes Lidia Maltseva, the Director of Y. Karsky Grodno Regional Scientific Library, on presenting facsimile copies of Turov Testament.


At presentation of Turov Testament


“Several more facsimile copies of rare and unique books will have been published in Belarus by 2017. Frantsisk Skorina’s book legacy is to be fully reprinted in time for the 500th anniversary of Belarusian book printing. Meanwhile, our librarian community is petitioning that 2017 be announced as the Year of Frantsisk Skorina,” comments Ms. Maltseva.

The National Library of Belarus has presented eight copies of the Turov Testament to cultural and educational establishments across the Grodno Region and 500 reproductions have been published as part of a joint project between Xerox and Belarus’ National Library. The National Library’s Deputy Director, Ales Susha, is delighted to inform us that commercial circulation is planned very soon, for sale to the public.

The 11th century Turov Testament is among the oldest manuscripts to have been created within the territory of modern Belarus and confirms the high level of Belarusian cultural development. One of the most valuable in Europe, the original manuscript (of ten pages) was discovered in Turov in 1865 and now resides at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, in Vilnius. The Testament includes additional notes and, Mr. Susha admits, Belarus has long dreamt of having it returned. Despite great diplomatic efforts it remains in Lithuania. Mr. Susha asserts, “There’s no doubt that such a valuable monument should return to our country, even if only as a facsimile edition. From a polygraphic and scientific point of view, such a reproduction can rival the original, which is supplemented by commentary in Belarusian, Russian and English.”

Mr. Susha adds that, by 2017 (when Belarusian book printing will celebrate its 500th anniversary), 20 volumes of Frantsisk Skorina’s book legacy will have been published, alongside several copies of other unique books (printed in state-private partnership). Titles are yet to be announced.



 “We are witnessing a boom in the production of facsimile editions,” Mr. Susha tells us. “Every year, dozens of books are reprinted in his way. Symbolically, businesses are joining in the process of reviving, preserving and distributing our Belarusian legacy. These projects primarily aim to bring Belarusian cultural treasures closer to the public, encouraging a sympathetic attitude.”
 
A programme of events is being prepared to mark the 500th anniversary of Belarusian book printing, aiming to promote our book traditions.

By Tatiana Vishnevskaya

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