Roman Motulsky, the Director of the National Library: “We’ll give Minsk the complete work of Francysk Skaryna’s legacy.”

Roman Motulsky, the Director of the National Library: “We’ll give Minsk the complete work of Francysk Skaryna’s legacy.”

According to the legend, at the entrance to the library of Ramesses II, an outstanding pharaoh of Egypt, every visitor could see an inscription with only two words: “Soul remedy”.Since ancient times the library has been considered to be the greatest treasure, as books have the power of creation and destruction.It is not surprising that book printing is one of the greatest inventions of our civilization. Recorded in books, knowledge, discoveries and science have been transmitted from generation to generation.

Books or gadgets?

Don’t you feel like a kind of a dinosaur, a representative of disappearing profession? Doesn’t it sound upsetting that quite an impressive part of the National Library can be placed in a little gadget, literally in a pocket?

Roman Motulsky, The Director of the National Library:
Actually, I feel like a representative of the profession that is inscribed in the Bible, the most ancient tablets of humanity. Not many people can say the same. And as far as gadgets are concerned, I have a question for you. Do you know where all the information is downloaded from?

Of course, from the original source, but even printed books are becoming electronic now.

Roman Motulsky:
This question about gadgets, you know, reminds me one story about two blondes. One of them asks her friend: “Where do you get money from?” “From the shelf,” – answered the girl. Here we have just the same thing. People can download anything on their phones only because it was saved in the library. If libraries have information, it can be transformed into any form modern humanity possess. Mobile phones became popular not so long ago. So, who knows, maybe in 10 years people will look at them as if like they’re dinosaurs as well.

22 Books by Francysk Skaryna

According to the tradition, when the Day of Writing is celebrated in Belarus, the guests give one of their favorite books as a present. Last time it was “Pinskaya Szlachta” (The Nobles of Pinsk).

Do you have any present this year?

Roman Motulsky:
We’ll give Minsk the complete work of Francysk Skaryna’s legacy. This is 20 volumes including 22 books. In our opinion it would be great for all of us (as they say, mere mortals, whom Skaryna addressed all his books to, and scientists, researchers) to see all these books together, to read them, to get to know them. We gained these books from all over the world – I mean, the electronic copies of them – and renovated them. We translated them into the modern Belarusian language, Russian and English. People will be able to read the books in the original, which is very important.

Will these books be easy to get for people?

Roman Motulsky:
The number of copies will be big enough. Almost every big national library in the world will have these books. We’ve already presented them in the Library of Congress (USA), The British Library, The New York Public Library and The National Library of China. As you can see, these are the biggest libraries in the world. Moreover, our books will be presented to big (and not only big) libraries in Belarus.


Is it true, that there are fewer and fewer visitors in the libraries with every passing year?

Roman Motulsky:
From my point of view, the idea that people read less nowadays is just a myth. On the opposite, people are reading more, 4.5 million visitors per year are registered in our library.

Do you have the same situation every year?

Roman Motulsky:
We do, actually. Moreover, the dynamic is positive. Of course, now you’re going to ask me again what data this number consists of.  It’s true, that the majority of requests are those for electronic documents or in remote access.

The amount of libraries

Lately, Belarus has become one of the first countries in the world according to the amount of IT-services provided per capita. In the sphere of libraries Belarus also takes a good position on the world list, doesn’t it?

Roman Motulsky:
Yes, it does. What’s more, Belarus is one of the leaders. The latest data of International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA) shows that Belarus is the first country in the world according to the amount of libraries. This rate is really good, because every person has a constitutional right for the access to the information.

Electronic of paper book?

Roman Motulsky:
In my opinion a traditional book is not the opposite of the same book in electronic form. What’s more it is just the same thing. So, yes, I also work with a computer. Moreover there are almost no paper documents in our library as all of them are computer-based.

Modern Belarusian Literature

What can you say about modern literature in Belarus? Do you read modern writers?

Roman Motulsky:
Of course, I do. But it’s my job – to know what books are written and what books are printed. However I suppose that literature can be estimated fairly only 50 or better 100 years later. Time always sort things out.