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400th Anniversary of the First Primer



In 1618 in the printing house of the Vilna Holy Spiritual orthodox brotherhood in Vievis the first "The Primer of the Slavonic Scripture" (Bukvar) on 52 sheets in a pocket format was published. It contains the Slavic alphabet, examples of syllables of two and three letters, simple words in the Church Slavic language, a list of punctuation marks, numbers (in the Cyrillic tradition), as well as the basics of grammar and texts for reading, including religious hymns, prayers, commandments, sermons.

The National Library of Belarus has organized a number of events, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the world's first publication entitled "Bukvar".

The exhibition "Belarusian ABC-Book: 400 Years of History" was opened on March 29 in the Book Museum. Among the exhibits there were famous ABC Books of the 16th–21st centuries, letters from Orthodox monasteries and little-known publications for Uniates and Old Believers, textbooks for teaching reading of the beginning of the 20th century, soviet ABC-books of the period of the elimination of illiteracy and even the editions of the Belarusian diaspora abroad.

Bukvar-2.jpg In the framework of the exhibition a range of excursions, workshops on methods of teaching literacy for students of the faculties of primary education of pedagogical universities, as well as museum classes for children were held.

The international exhibition "The Peoples of the World and Their Primers" is held in the National Library of Belarus from April 26th. It brings together diverse and unique variations of the very first book for learning to read and write from different nations. Totally there are about 1,400 ABC-books in 587 languages ​​from the private collection of Juris Cibuļs, the Latvian teacher, author of primers and books about world nations.

A special place at the exhibition is occupied by Belarusian books for teaching literacy in the 16th-21st centuries. from the collections of the National Library of Belarus. They are all different in composition, graphics, artistic design, teaching methods, and demonstrate the 400-year history of the Belarusian ABC-book.

Bukvar-5.jpg The exhibition "The Peoples of the World and Their Primers" is not only a museum space with unique exhibits, but also an exclusive venue of the classes for pre-school and younger schoolchildren in the framework of the "Book Professors’ Club" project.

On April 26–27, 2018 the Library hosted the 14th International Bibliological Conference dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the publication of the first "Bukvar". The scientific event brought together more than 400 book experts, teachers, linguists, culturologists, historians and philosophers from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

Bukvar-6.jpg The main symbol of the anniversary events in the Library – a two-meter voluminous "Primer" – has been solemnly opened. The decoration of the ancient book embodies the weight and value of a unique publication laying the foundations of culture and is the beginning of the path of mastering knowledge and reminds our readers and guests of the four-century history of the first book in the world called "Bukvar".


On August 28, on the eve of the Day of Knowledge and the Day of Belarusian Written Language, the presentation of the facsimile edition of the first "Primer" was held in the Library.

On September 1–2, the National Library of Belarus took part in the celebration of the 25th Day of Belarusian Written Language in the city of Ivanovo, Brest region, timed to the Year of Native Land. The main theme of the events was  the 400th anniversary of the first "Primer".

buk_resize.JPG On September 6 the presentation of a facsimile reproduction of the world's first "Primer" for representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in the Republic of Belarus and members of the National Commission of the Republic of Belarus for UNESCO was held.

During an official travel to London from 28 to 30 October, the director of the National Library of Belarus, Roman Motulsky, visited Francysk Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in London, the Library of the Honorable Society Middle Temple in London, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, and also the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, where he presented and donated a facsimile reproduction of the world’s first “Primer”.

On November 27–28 the events dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the world's first publication entitled "Bukvar" took place in Switzerland. The facsimile edition was presented and donated to the University of Geneva, to the University of Bern and the Swiss Library of Eastern Europe.

On November 28 the presentation of the facsimile edition of the first book entitled "Primer" was held at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania in Vilnius. The publications were donated to a number of Vilnius libraries, to the Vilnius Gymnasium named after Francysk Skaryna, the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Lithuania, the Holy Spirit Monastery and the Trakai History Museum.

On December 12–26, the unique facsimile edition of the Belarusian “Primer”, first in Eastern Europe, was presented in Mogilev, Brest, Grodno and Vitebsk. The facsimile copies were handed over to regional and public libraries, educational institutions and museums of the Mogilev, Brest and Grodno regions, and also Bobruisk and Mogilev eparchies of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.

On December 20, the director of the National Library of Belarus, Roman Motulsky, visited “The Castle of Light” – the new building of the National Library of Latvia, where he presented a facsimile of the first Belarusian Primer and told the audience about the history of its creation.

On December 22, the Fur-tree Toys Museum-factory in Minsk hosted an event, which was held under the motto “We are proud of the Motherland’s things” and featured the presentation of the facsimile reconstruction of the world’s first “Primer”. A set of the unique facsimile was donated to the Museum-Reserve “Nesvizh”.

On January 11, a class on "The National Library of Belarus is a Home where Books Live”, as part of On a Visit to Books Project, was held at the library. The event was attended by first-year pupils of Minsk secondary school № 137 named after Piotr Masherov.

diplom_bukvar.jpg On February 8, a solemn ceremony of awarding the winners of the 58th National Competition "The Art of the Book" was held at the Palace of Art. The staff of the National Library of Belarus became the winner in the nomination "For the Contribution to the Preservation of Spiritual Heritage". A special diploma and a memorable sign-symbol "Small Golden Folio" is a well-deserved reward for the implementation of the project of facsimile re-creation of the first book in the world called "Primer" with Belarusian roots.

On March 27, the facsimile editions of the first Primer were handed over to libraries of Minsk. The event was held at Minsk City Hall.

The project of the National Library of Belarus "The First Primer: facsimile edition: the 400th anniversary of the publication" won "The Pearl of Cultural Heritage" diploma at the 16th International contest "Art of the Book" among the CIS member states, held on May 30–31 in Baku.

On June 12–13, the Zurich Library of Slavic Studies and the Gutenberg Museum in Fribourg (Switzerland) received as a gift the facsimile editions “The Book Heritage of Francysk Skaryna” and “The First Primer” (1618).

On July 18, 2019, at the annual seminar of the heads of diplomatic missions and consular offices of the Republic of Belarus, the National Library of Belarus donated the facsimile reprint of the Primer to the national libraries of Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Brazil, Georgia, Ireland, Venezuela, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Spain, Qatar, Korea, Cuba, Mongolia, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, Croatia, Estonia, South Africa and Japan.

From August 13 to 15 delegation of the National Library of Belarus paid a professional visit to the Royal Danish Library. During the visit they handed a facsimile edition of the first edition of the world's first book called “Primer”.