MainNewsNational Library of Belarus News
Meeting with a Lawyer
110 Anniversary of Birth of Faina Mieryna, Veteran of the National Library of Belarus

The Book Museum Turns 15. Part 4

The Book Museum Turns 15. Part 4
Other news

This year, the Book Museum of the National Library of Belarus celebrates 15 years from its opening. The history of the Museum is an important part of the Library's history. We continue a series of publication-recollections about the Museum from its creators.

Many specialists took part in the creation and development of the book treasury. The first to share their memories were Ms Tatsiana Roshchyna and Ms Tatsiana Sapieha, the second – Ms Maryja Shopina and Ms Natalja MartsinkievichMs Tatsiana Zakharava and Ms Halina Lyskaviec were in the third part. Today we bring to your attention a sequel – memories from Ms Halina Kirejieva.

Recollection 7

Author: Halina Kirejieva
has been working at the National Library of Belarus since 1980; from 2003 to 2018 – Head of the Book Research Department. In 2013, she was awarded the Francysk Skaryna Medal. She continues to work as Chief Bibliographer in the Department.

Ms Halina Kirejieva at the exhibition "Francysk Skaryna and his Age" in 2017

I came to the Department of Manuscripts, Early Printed and Rare Editions (as the Book Research Department was then called) in June 1983. At the time, there was an exhibition displaying rare editions. But after a few years, the numbers of readers increased and it had to be closed. There are some plaques left that were once made for an exhibition dedicated to Mikola Husouski, as well as an old clock and a model of the Francysk Skaryna monument. For years, they have all created an aura of the old book world in the reading room that our readers were immediately immersed in. However, dreams of creating a book museum remained.

Reading room of the Department of Manuscripts, Early Printed and Rare Editions in the old building of the National Library of Belarus.

Ms Halina Kirejieva at the working desk in the reading room of the Department of Manuscripts, Early Printed and Rare Editions in the old building of the National Library of Belarus.

In 2007, the museum became an integral part of the Book Research Department, which makes sense, since the department employs specialists who study and understand books. An old book cannot be displayed for long, so you have to constantly work on updating the display and consult with experts. Ms Liudmila Stankievich helped the museum workers to select handwritten books, Ms Tatsiana Roshchyna and Ms Natalia Savierchanka selected Western European books, Ms Iryna Vashkievich selected old Polish books and books from the Niasvizh Radziwill Ordination, Ms Natalia Ramanava selected Russian civil print books, and Ms Tatsiana Karnilava and I helped select books in Cyrillic.

Ms Halina Kirejieva and Ms Natalia Ramanova picked up books and brought them to the Book Museum to put them on display. The photo was taken in 2006.

Our museum specialists Ms Tatsiana Zakharava and Ms Maryja Shopina created the exhibitions. Ms Tatsiana Sapieha, although trained as a librarian, was concerned with the conceptual issues of the Book Museum and went on to become one of the biggest specialists in museum pedagogy. This proves the point that the profession of a librarian can encompass many different fields of knowledge and that it is up to the individual, their ambition, knowledge, passion to achieve and represent what they will be in the future. The Museum Activities Section has had a very strong team of specialists, creative and enthusiastic, committed to presenting the museum as a world of books, revealing all the historical stages of its existence. It was believed that not many books had survived in Belarus. That's how it is, but there is also a lot that has survived, and all this wealth had to be carefully and wisely displayed, presented in an interesting and engaging way, so that the visitor would want to return to the museum more than once to attend new exhibitions.

Ms Halina Kirejieva, Ms Tatsiana Sapieha and Ms Tatsiana Zakharava at the 20th Minsk International Book Fair. Photo was taken in February 2013.

As Head of the Department, I often gave guided tours to government delegations, politicians, academics, church leaders, etc. I even always had a business jacket at work just in case, because at any moment I had to get up and give a tour. For some visitors, it was just a protocol visit, while some showed great interest, took their time to ask many questions.

Ms Halina Kirejieva gives a tour for Zhou Xiaochuan, one of the world's most influential economists and head of the People's Bank of China (2002–2018). The photo was taken on January 8, 2008.

Galina Kireeva meets Elzbieta Radziwill at the Book Museum. The photo was taken in 2009.

It was very important for me to meet Belarusian writer Uladzimir Arlou, who knows the history of Belarusian literature and books very well. Our little excursion turned into a relaxed conversation about the fate of the country's book collections and our history.

Another memorable tour was for the Iranian delegation, when all the attendants wore black suits and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wore a light-coloured suit. He was curious about our collection of Oriental manuscripts, as he used to teach the Quran in schools.

Mr Gennady Zyuganov's eyes also glistened when he saw Maxim Gorky's autograph in the window. And when the conversation suddenly turned to the fact that I had been to Spasskoe-Lutovinovo a few years ago, the conversation about literature dragged on, and the delegation's attendants began to get nervous – it was time to leave, and I found myself breaking protocol.

An exhibition of miniature books "Azerbaijan, Belarus and World Classics in Miniature Books", was opened at the Museum of Books, thanks to cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It was then that I met an amazing woman, Zarifa khanum Salakhova. The exhibition featured publications from the private Museum of Miniature Books in Baku, whose founder was Ms Zarifa Salakhova. As part of the presentation, she donated a number of publications on the history and culture of Azerbaijan and miniature books to our library. This was our first meeting, then there were others. She often came to Minsk, and always came to our department with gifts. In Baku, she collaborated with a printing house, where she could publish miniature books, which she presented in different countries and donated them. I have one of those little books on my shelf, "Zarifa Salakhova - Service to the Book and Devotion to the Cause", with a dedicatory inscription. She really wanted to publish something from Belarusian literature. Ms Tatsiana Kuzminich offered to publish Janka Kupala's "Zhaleika", and we gave her an electronic copy of the 1908 edition. The two-volume book was published in the year of the 130th anniversary of the Belarusian classic in the publishing house "Indigo" (Azerbaijan, Baku) with only 50 copies and immediately became a bibliographic rarity. Of course, the presentation of the book took place in our Library and the publisher was also there.

Ms Zarifa Salakhova and Ms Halina Kirejieva in the Book Museum. The photo was taken in 2010.

There were another two bright meetings with Zarifa khanum Salakhova. One of them was on the eve of the 500th-anniversary celebration of Belarusian printing. Then Ms Salakhova proposed to publish a book by Francysk Skaryna. It seemed to me that the Book of Judith, published in Prague in 1519 was the best choice. It's small in volume, all the translations were there, an electronic copy too. Francysk Skaryna's preface includes words that everyone knows, perhaps, since childhood: "The animals that walk in the desert know their burrows..." The book is filled with love for the homeland and its people. So the presentation of the miniature edition of The Book of Judith by Francysk Skaryna took place at the Svietach shop in Minsk on 23 September 2017, published thanks to the participation of the library and congress of Azerbaijani communities of the Republic of Belarus. It was a Saturday, a warm autumn day, lots of people were present and I even had the chance to speak. And then everyone ran off back to their own business, trying to prolong the summer. I also had plans, but I stayed with Zarifa. We had lunch and then went to the Library. We walked around the exhibition "Francysk Skaryna and His Age", she got a little tired, decided to rest and lay down in the exhibition room on the first floor, on a window seat. She had a plane late at night, so we still went to the store, and then sat on a bench and talked, rejoicing at the warm evening. Ms Zarifa khanum Salakhova headed the Society of Book Lovers of Baku for a long time and created the Club of Interesting Meetings. She invited famous writers, poets and artists from all over the former USSR to this club. She told me about her meetings with Rimma Kazakova, whom she later were to meet in Moscow, with Zinovy Gerdt, Alexander Dolsky and many other prominent people. Everyone who came to those meetings would donate miniature books, knowing her passion. Ms Salakhova's brother, the famous artist Tahir Salakhov, and his friends also brought her miniature books from their travels. Of course, she talked a lot about her family, grandchildren and the museum. We spent almost the whole day together and remembering that very meeting, I am still amazed at the inexhaustible energy and thirst for something new of this unfading woman, not at all "old" in spirit, passionately in love with her Azerbaijan. And as I close my eyes and remember her, I see myself and Zarifa sitting on the bench, and, which is rare for me, I even remember how she was dressed.

Ms Zarifa Salakhova, Ms Halina Kirejieva and Ms Liudmila Kriukhina in the Book Museum. The photo was taken in 2010.

Of course, there were many other tours for famous people whom I had only seen on TV before, but I was never in awe of them, and spoke with dignity about our books, about exhibitions made with love, revealing the history of our Library and country. I always understood during the tour who was really interested; for some it was just another planned visit but they would listen to you politely, while others were bored and didn't try to hide it. But I was also excited to observe our museum visitors, probably just as much as our visitors were keen to observe us, instead of only listening to what we say.

Ms Halina Kirejieva talks about the book legacy of Francysk Skaryna at the Book Museum. The photo was taken in 2009.

Book Research Department


Great Talent, Great Work, Big Heart 2022

17 Jan 2022

From January 17, a literary and visual exhibition is on show in the circular corridor of the 2nd floor. The exhibition is dedicated to the winners of the prize For Spiritual Revival, a special prize of the president of the Republic of Belarus to people of culture and art, as well as a special prize of the president of the Republic of Belarus Belarusian Sports Olympus for 2021.

Book exhibitions

An Incredible Story of the Exclamation Mark!

17 Jan 2022

In today's reality, you often have to convert all your emotions into text format and express them through emoticons and stickers with screaming cats. But there is a much more proven way to show your interlocutor that you are at the edge of your rope. An exclamation mark! A good old stick with a dot can turn any phrase into a real outcry from the heart. Where did it come from? What incredible story is behind it? And why do we put one or three exclamation marks but never two? There are too many questions in this introduction, so let's look for the answers.

Author's Point of View

With a Soul Full of Sunshine

14 Jan 2022

A book and visual exhibition "With a Soul Full of Sunshine", dedicated to the 190th anniversary of the birth of the French painter Édouard Manet (1832–1883) is on show in the Fine Arts Reading Room (room 306) from January 14 to February 9.

Book exhibitions

Brama Gallery Turns 30!

12 Jan 2022

The Rakurs gallery (2nd floor) hosted the grand opening of the exhibition “30 Years of the First Belarusian Gallery”, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the author's non-commercial conceptual gallery Brama on January 12.

Art exhibitions