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Happy 85th birthday to Valentina Korneevna Zhak, a longtime employee of the National Library of Belarus

Happy 85th birthday to Valentina Korneevna Zhak, a longtime employee of the National Library of Belarus
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There are numerous individuals in the National Library's past whose expertise, devotion to the institution, and favoured work merit recognition, respect, and serve as role models for the current workforce. Valentina Korneevna Zhak, a highly qualified specialist, capable manager, and gifted organiser, is one of them.

Valentina Korneevna was born in 1937 to a working-class family in Minsk. In 1941, a ruthless war swept into the girl's life like a whirlwind, claiming the life of a loved one: the German invaders murdered her father for his ties to the partisans.

Valentina entered the first grade of School No 12 in the capital a year after the end of hostilities on the territory of the EU nations. She continued her education at the Belarusian Garment Industry Trust's vocational school after seven classes were completed.

She has been a master of women's light dresses in the atelier No 5 of custom tailoring for two years, starting in 1955. In addition to working, the young woman completed her evening schooling in the 9th and 10th grades. She then entered the Minsk Pedagogical Institute named after M. Gorky's library right away (today-the Belarusian State Pedagogical University named after M. Tank).

Valentina Korneevna completed her studies in 1961, earned the title "librarian-bibliographer of the highest qualification," and in October was hired as the librarian of the Belarusian department at the State Library of the BSSR named after V.I. Lenin (now the National Library of Belarus).

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With her husband Viktor and poet Andrey Voznesensky,
July 1974

Soon after, V.K. Zhak was promoted to senior librarian. Since 1975, he has also served as senior editor of the Department of Belarusian Literature and Bibliography. Four years later, she was appointed head of the Reader Service section based on her extensive practical expertise and high level of professionalism.

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Employees of the Belarusian department, 1970's.
Valentina Korneevna second from the left in the top row

Valentina Korneevna's exceptional erudition, natural tact, and capacity to take a customised approach with each reader allowed her to expertly reply to other researchers' requests, provide wise counsel, and carry out even the most difficult bibliographic references.

Having excellent professional competencies, V.K. Zhak had led the work of the art department since 1980. Based on the information in that time period's personal file: "a reputable manager and organiser, [...] who is familiar with the layout of the library's reference materials and the particulars of servicing readers who are experts in the fields of culture and the arts. He places a lot of emphasis on developing subsidiary funds, enhancing the catalogue and card file system for particular sorts of art, and enhancing the culture and effectiveness of servicing readers. [...] She carries out methodological and research work on the department profile."

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Valentina Korneevna left the department's administration in the fall of 1987, at her own desire, and was promoted to senior editor.

In the 1980s, under her editorship, the recommended index of books, articles and audiovisual materials "Diskotek’s World" was published, as well as the bibliographic indexes "The memory of the heart" and "The Great Patriotic War in the artistic life: painting, graphics”.

V. K. Zhak is the author of reports and publications on the role of libraries in the system of aesthetic education of schoolchildren, on the activities of libraries of the republic to revive national art and popularize aesthetic knowledge. In 1992, she was one of the authors of the methodological recommendations "The library in the system of aesthetic education of schoolchildren".

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In 1991, at the scientific and practical conference "Library and the national Heritage program", Valentina Korneevna, in her report "The work of libraries in Belarus to help the revival of national art and the dissemination of aesthetic knowledge", drew attention to the importance of aesthetic education and the role of libraries in this process: "Today's teenagers care little about works of classical and modern literature, canvases of great artists, they do not know the history and culture of their people well. [ ... ] An analysis of the work of libraries shows that they have a good book background to help aesthetic education, there are audiovisual materials and technical means."

Valentina Korneevna took an active part in the public life of the library, was the chairman and secretary of the board of the Society of book lovers, was an active member of the united trade union committee of library workers, secretary of the district commission for elections to local Councils of People's deputies.

When retired, V.K. Zhak had been working for the benefit of the library until August 2006.

For her long-term and impeccable work in the field of library science, Valentina Korneevna was awarded the badge "For Excellent Work", the Certificate of Honor of the Ministry of Culture of the BSSR and the Belarussian Republican committee of the Trade Union of Cultural Workers (1978), the medal "Veteran of Labor". The name of V.K. Zhak is listed in the Book of Literary Glory of the State Library of the BSSR named after V.I. Lenin, and the photo was placed on the Honor Board more than once.

"Valentina Korneevna is an excellent manager, an excellent specialist in her field, a modest, sympathetic, tactful, extremely sensitive person, always benevolent to others»," recall colleagues who were lucky enough to work with her.

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With my colleagues on the day of her 70th birthday.
Valentina Korneevna fifth from the left

Valentina Korneevna is congratulated on her fantastic anniversary on behalf of the entire National Library of Belarus staff, and we wish her good health for many years to come, brilliant happiness, joy of the heart, and joy of the soul! Allow each day to be filled with amazing occurrences, love, and caring for individuals near to your heart.

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Read about the National Library of Belarus’ veterans and staff in the section titled "Portraits: the history of the library in faces".

The article is provided by Marina Lisovenko and Irina Kuketa, employees of the Library science department.

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