The first issue of The Lenin Banner, published in 1957 in Uzbekestan.
Alime Mennanova (left) and Nadjie Tairova on the front porch of the library, going through old issues of the paper and binding them into folders.
One of the foremost missions of the Gasprinskiy Library is the collection and preservation of documents in the Crimean Tatar language and by and about Crimean Tatars in other languages. The Library has an impressive collection—over 40,000 documents including complete sets of magazines and newspapers published in the Crimean Tatar language.
When the Crimean Tatars were deported en masse by Stalin in 1944 to Uzbekistan and other distant Soviet republics, they were forbidden to use their native language. For thirteen years there were no written Crimean Tatar publications. When the ban was lifted, the first newspaper to be published in Crimean Tatar was the Lenin Bayragi, which means “Lenin Banner” in Crimean Tatar. Founded in 1957 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Lenin Bayragi was published three times a week and had an initial circulation of 23,000. It was published until 1990 when it ceased publishing for one year as Crimean Tatars flooded back to their homeland of Crimea. In 1991, the Committee to Assist the Deported Nationalities in Crimea revived the paper and began publishing it in Simferopol, Crimea. At that time, the newspaper changed names and became Yani Dunya, which means, appropriately enough, “New World” in Crimean Tatar. It continues today to be published on a weekly basis in Simferopol.
The Gasprinskiy Library collection of Crimean Tatar language documents contains a complete set of Lenin Bayragi. Full of information depicting the life of Crimean Tatars in exile in Uzbekistan, Lenin Bayragi is an important resource for the many researchers and students who use the library. Preservation of these newspapers and other vital documents is an ongoing task at the library, hindered by a lack of funding for the necessary equipment and materials. Ultimately, it is hoped that many of the library’s documents can be scanned and put into digital format for wider access for researchers and also to preserve the original documents. But for now, the newspapers are bound into folders and library patrons have access to them in the library reading room. Pictured are two of the librarians, Nadjie Tairova and Alime Mennanova, sitting out on the veranda of the Library on a hot summer day, sorting through the dusty old issues of Lenin Bayragi and binding them into the appropriate folders.