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"The book as the origin of all things": roundtable at the Novosibirsk State Regional Scientific Library

On October 2 in the Novosibirsk State Regional Scientific Library a roundtable on "Common Christian heritage and its sounding in the first quarter of the XXI century: promising roles of cultural institutions" was held. The event was part of the project "Cycle of regional events in the cultural and educational program of the route "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity", implemented with the help of a grant provided by the NGO "Russian Cultural Foundation" in the framework of the federal project "Creative people" of the national project "Culture".

Svetlana Tarasova, Director of the Novosibirsk State Regional Scientific Library, Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, welcomed the participants of the round table and told about the concept of the event: "We will talk not only about what was in the historical, distant and near past, but also about what tasks cultural institutions face today in preserving the issues of culture, spirituality and morality.


Grigory Milogulov, Deputy Minister of Culture of Novosibirsk region, thanked Novosibirsk State Regional Scientific Library, the Association "The Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" and the Library for Foreign Literature for organizing the event and reminded that the roundtable is held within the framework of the VII International Festival "Book Siberia".


In his welcoming remarks, Miguel Palacio, Doctor of Theology (ThD), head of the Holy Places of Undivided Christianity Association, Deputy Director General of the Library for Foreign Literature for Interregional and International Cooperation, defined the problems of the round table: "Culture and religion have invariably gone hand in hand throughout human history. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill has repeated the phrase, which belongs to the outstanding clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church and a brilliant representative of the world of culture, Archpriest Pavel Florensky: "Cult and culture are one and the same term. Culture was literally born in a religious environment." As an example, Miguel Palacio cited the fact that churches and monasteries have played an enormous role in the formation of the cultural code, fine arts, and literature throughout the world.


After opening remarks, the participants of the scientific and educational meeting presented their reports.

In his presentation "The International Project "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" and its contribution to the study and popularization of the spiritual and cultural heritage of Russia" Miguel Palacio told about the concept and history of the cultural route of the same name and the Association. He paid special attention to the project "Cycle of regional events in the framework of the cultural and educational program of the route "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" and the event in Novosibirsk, emphasizing the importance of educational and research program for the route development.


Then Miguel Palacio and Svetlana Tarasova signed a Memorandum on joining the Association of specialists in the field of cultural routes "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" of Novosibirsk State Regional Scientific Library. The leading library institution of Novosibirsk has already developed a route on religious monuments of general Christian significance in the region – "The Tale of the land of Siberia".


The next report was devoted to cameral archeographic work and its role in the study of book spiritual heritage. Anton Kovalenko, a junior researcher of the Rare Books Department of the State Public Scientific-Technical Library of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told about the work with book treasures in Siberia and listed the most significant copies.


Vladimir Alexeyev, Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, PhD in Philology, Associate Professor of the Department of Source Studies of Literature and Ancient Languages of Novosibirsk State University (NSU), Chief Librarian of the Department of Readers' Services of NSUHRS, presented a joint report on "The role of Old Believers in preservation of the Old Russian book heritage in Siberia" together with Elena Dergacheva-Skop, PhD in Philology, Professor of the Department of Source Studies of Literature and Ancient Languages of NSU. Vladimir Alexeyev noted that during the field archaeographic researches on the territory of Siberia was collected collection of ancient Russian books, which included about 3,000 manuscripts and old printed books of the XV-XIX centuries. Of these, more than a dozen and a half are publications by the Russian first printer Ivan Fyodorov, preserved in extremely small numbers. The scholar explains this phenomenon by the enormous importance of the book for the Orthodox man – it was the basis of his spiritual life, "a substance which managed to contain the root cause of all things, the divine word, which is the basis of the universe.

"A liturgical, public, or domestic (private) reading always turns out to be a constantly recurring miracle. A miracle of the extraction of the divine word before men," Vladimir Alexeyev. In Siberia, the function of maintaining book authority as a phenomenon of the divine essence to the world belongs in large part to the champions of Old Believers, who preserve the old Russian traditions of relations with books and have managed to save many unique editions to the present day.


Miguel Palacio added that the concept "The Book as the Origin of All Things" is absolutely in line with the main values of the project "The Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" and could even become its epigraph.

Galina Lepova, the librarian of the Scientific Library of the Tyumen Museum-Educational Association (Tobolsk Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve) devoted her report to the books of Cyrillic printing of the XVII-XVIII centuries, included in the collection of the scientific library, and demonstrated some copies. According to Miguel Palacio, many books, in particular the works of Simeon Polotskiy, would be interesting to include in the "Holy Places of Undivided Christianity" route.

Larisa Tokareva, Chief Librarian of the Historical and Cultural Heritage Department of Molchanov-Sibirsky Irkutsk Regional State Universal Scientific Library, told about one of the 75 editions of Cyrillic script from the library collection – "The Teacher's Gospel". The book was published in 1619 by preacher Cyril Tranquillion-Stavrovetsky. This publication had an interesting fate: at first the clergy gave Cyril Tranquillion-Staurovetsky permission to print it, but after the final editing it was forbidden. Nevertheless, the preacher printed the Gospel, and it was in great demand among the faithful, although it was banned and destroyed by the authorities. However, after Patriarch Nikon's church reforms, the book, like many pre-reform publications, became revered by the Old Believers, thanks to whom the Gospel of the Teacher has survived to this day.


Kirill Konev, PhD in History, Head of the Department of Manuscripts and Book Monuments of Tomsk State University Scientific Library and Valeria Esipova, PhD in History, Head of Research and Discovery Sector of the Tomsk State University Scientific Library, told about the creation of PRO SIBIRA electronic platform on the library basis, which opens new opportunities for presentation and study of cultural and spiritual heritage. The platform was created in 2020, and just in a year it has posted more than 400 thousand sources, registered about 400 users and recognized more than 1 million characters, including manuscripts and old printed books.

Alexei Sorokin, deputy director of A. S. Pushkin Omsk Regional Scientific Library and chairman of the Omsk regional branch of the Russian Culture Foundation, told about the library's projects aimed at cooperation with the Omsk Metropolis of the Russian Orthodox Church in projects of spiritual enlightenment and promotion of Orthodox books.


Tatiana Prokhorova, Candidate of Art History and researcher at the Novosibirsk State Local History Museum, presented a report on the "Suzun" icon. Tatyana Viktorovna highlighted several versions of the origin of the "Suzun" icon and the history of the formation of this term as a generally accepted term. A collection of 277 icons from 18 museums and museum exhibits has already been assembled.


At the end of the roundtable Miguel Palacio thanked the participants and guests of the event and invited them to reflect on who could become the heavenly patron of librarianship in Russia. For his part, he suggested the following saints: Maxim the Greek, Tikhon Zadonsky, Metropolitan Philaret (Drozdov), Theophanes the Hermit, and Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov). The head of the Association of the Holy Places of Undivided Christianity asked those present to express their opinions on each "candidate" or to suggest other patron saints of libraries and librarians.


October 26, 2021



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