As Crimean Tatars flooded back to their homeland in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, they began to establish organizations to serve their returning people. In 1990, the Crimean Tatar Library in the name of I. Gasprinskiy (known as the Gasprinskiy Library) opened as a branch of the central library system in Simferopol, the capitol of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine. Five years later, it became an autonomous library under the Ministry of Culture in Crimea.
The mission of the library is to acquire, store, and make available to users of the library the world’s largest collection of documents in the Crimean Tatar language and about Crimean Tatars in other languages. Today, the library has a collection of more than 32,000 books plus 9000 complete sets of magazines and newspapers in the Crimean Tatar language; 4500 books in Turkish and other Turkic languages; and more than 2000 rare and valuable books.
Among the especially valuable collections in the library are:
• Photocopies of 61 volumes of the Kadyaskersky books which contain invaluable scholarly material on the stories, economy, laws, and social and demographic processes in the Crimean khanate from 1608 to1780;
• Microfilms of the newspaper Terdzhiman (Translator), published by Ismail Gasprinskiy from 1883-1918; a collection of the magazine Alemi нисван (The Female World); and the newspapers Millet (Nation) and Vetan Hadimi (Attendant of the Native land), 1905-1908;
• Complete editions of the works of Ismail Gasprinsky, Dzhafer Sejdamet, Bekira Choban-zade, Amet Ozenbashly, Asan Sabri Ajvazov, Osman Akchokrakly, Shevki Bektore, Arslan Krichinsky, Eshref Shemyi-zade and other outstanding figures of the Crimean Tatar culture;
• Crimean Tatar books published in Crimea before the Deportation of 1944;
• Complete set of the magazine Емеl (1930 to the present) and the magazine Kirim (1918);
• Complete set of the periodical Lenin Bayragi (Lenin Banner) which was published in the Crimean Tatar language by the Crimean Tatar diaspora in Uzbekistan from 1957 to 1990;
• Collection of the magazine Yildyz (Star), from 1976 to the present.
In 2000 the library opened a special section dealing with manuscripts and archival materials. The library staff research and acquire for preservation the personal archives of famous Crimean Tatar writers, scholars, and public figures, such as B. Garfarov, E. Semyi-zade, U. Kurkchi, and D. Ursu.
With the help of the International Renaissance Foundation in Ukraine, the library has produced a series of editions of Crimean Tatar writings and translations called Source of Knowledge. Sixteen books have been published through this program.
The Gasprinskiy Library also performs a number of services to benefit the Crimean Tatar community across Crimea. They hold frequent workshops and trainings, providing organizational and practical assistance to Crimean libraries serving the Crimean Tatar population. In addition, the library staff prepare Crimean Tatar language manuals and bibliographies to help disseminate information about Crimean Tatars and to serve their Crimean Tatar readers.
In its twenty years of existence, the Gasprinskiy Library has truly become the culture center of the Crimean Tatar people of Crimea. The library’s active assistance in the revival and development of Crimean Tatar language and culture has gone far in helping preserve and popularize the historical, spiritual, and moral heritage of the Crimean Tatar people.