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The first director: known and unknown pages of his biography

The name of Iosif Simanovsky went down in the history of librarianship in Belarus. He is one of the founders and the first director of the National Library of Belarus, librarian, translator and teacher. He was born on 24 April, 1892 in Bobruisk in the family which dealt with tar extraction. He finished the Wilno second high school, studied in France (Paris, Sorbonne, literary department, 1910–1911), and graduated from the University of Bern in Switzerland (the literature department of the Faculty of Philosophy, 1911–1914). In 1917, I. Simanovsky made the first steps in the field of librarianship, when he worked in the editorial board of the encyclopedia Granat and grenade in the Central city library named after A. Pushkin in Moscow. In 1918, he became the head of the library in Bobruisk, and since 1921 he directed by the library of the Belarusian State University, which soon got the status of the state. Almost forty years Simanovsky was the director of the country’s main library. At that time the library went through many difficult periods of development: the stage of organization and formation, construction of the first specialized building, the war and the renewal of lost funds. All life and creative force was devoted to librarianship in Belarus.

The exhibition consists of original materials taken from the personal archives of I. Simanovsky, which are held in the library and demonstrated for the first time. Among them are the unique official documents of 1921–1944, the manuscripts of works on bibliography and library history in Belarus, the translations of poems, letters and cards from well-known figures in the field of librarianship, books with commemorative inscriptions for Iosif Simanovsky, photographs and personal belongings. The copies of the works written by E. Verhaeren with the records made by I. Simanovsky and numerous notes in the margin, which demonstrate the creative laboratory of interpreter, are of particular interest.

We express our sincere gratitude for help in the creation of the exhibition to the son of Iosif Simanovsky – Henry Simanovsky.