Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Crimean Tatar linguistics book at the library

Darya Kavitskaya, Associate Professor of Linguistics at Yale University, recently sent a copy of her new book to the library for their English language collection of books about Crimean Tatar history, language, and culture.
Published by Lincom Europa, Crimean Tatar is the first full description of the Crimean Tatar language to appear in English or in any other language. From the back cover:
“It covers all major aspects of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the Central dialect of Crimean Tatar, and it also mentions the unique features of the Northern and Southern dialects where possible. Three texts in Central, Northern, and Southern Crimean Tatar with interlinear glosses and English translation are included.”
For more information and to order the book, contact Lincom Europa at www.lincom.at.

Library seminar in Pervomayskoe

Last week we traveled to Pervomayskoe in northern Crimea to visit their beautiful library and present our seminar on Crimean Tatar language and literature. The seminar was attended by twenty librarians from the surrounding villages.

We gather in front of the library. From left to right: me, Tamara, Mavie from Gasprinskiy, Svetlana, Valentina, Gulara from Gaspinskiy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Photos from our seminar in Kirovskoe

We are welcomed to the Kirovskoe Library.
The reading hall in the library is filled with librarians from the surrounding communities.
Medine from the Archival Department talks about the important collections in the Gasprinskiy Library of the personal papers of famous Crimean Tatar writers, artists, and activists.
Mavie from the Bibliography Department shows some of the many bibliographies available at the Gasprinskiy Library.
Nadjie, the leading methodlogist at the library, breaks the participants into small groups to translate a Crimean Tatar proverb into Russian and to talk about the similarities of the cultures.

To much laughter, each group reads their proverb in Crimean Tatar and Russian and talks about its meaning.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Library seminars around Crimea

Director of the Alushta Library, Tatiana, along with Gasprinskiy librarians Zarema and Elzira, on the Alushta waterfront.
The Central Library of Alushta.
Librarians at seminar in the Alushta Children's Library.
Nadjie talks about the Crimean Tatar language.
The new internet center of the Chernomorsky Library.
Last spring Nadjie (my counterpart at the library), and I applied for a grant from the Small Program Assistance program of the USAID administered through the Peace Corps. We received approximately $5000 to conduct a series of seminars for Crimean librarians on Crimean Tatar language, literature, and culture, with the goal of helping to promote ethnic understanding and tolerance in Crimea. In June we conducted a two-day seminar in Simferopol for twenty-five librarians from the central district libraries in Crimea—see the July 9th blog post for more information on this seminar. The librarians attending the June seminar found it very helpful—“A very interesting, useful, and informative seminar. I gathered a lot of new ideas and would like that such seminars were held more frequently,” said one participant.
A second phase of our grant is to conduct smaller seminars in regions around Crimea to be attended by staff from village libraries. On October 4th, we went to the central library in Chornomorske, a seaside town on the far western coast of Crimea, about a two-hour car trip from Simferopol. The enthusiastic director, Valentyna Kysil, was a gracious host, showing us around the central and children libraries, located next to one another. After the seminar, she also showed us the beautiful park and beach of Chornomorske, only a short walk from the library.
A few days later we went to Alushta, a town on the southern coast of Crimea. We also received a warm welcome there from library director, Tatiana Grigorievna, who gave us a tour of her library located in an historic mansion, and then the popular seaside boardwalk of Alushta.
For both seminars, two librarians came from Gasprinsky, along with Nadjie and me. The librarians talked about the resources of Gasprinsky—biographies of Crimean Tatar writers, bibliographies listing Crimean Tatar children books, traditions, and customs; bibliographies describing the books in the library collection published before the Deportation, and also books published during the czarist times by foreign travelers to Crimea. Also showcased were bibliographies of stories in Crimean Tatar language, a quarterly publication of new books in the library, and an annual calendar published by the library with Crimean Tatar traditions, religious holidays, and birth dates of famous Crimean Tatars. We also did a presentation on the displays and events in the Reading Room of the Gasprinsky Library, and I did a short talk and presentation about the role of a Peace Corps Volunteer in a library. Lastly, Nadjie, the leading methodologist at Gasprinsky, talked about the help Gasprinsky can provide to regional libraries in their work to open up their libraries to their Crimean Tatar communities. We ended the seminars with an exercise in cross cultural communication, with small groups translating a Russian proverb into Crimean Tatar and talking about the similarities—and differences—of the two cultures.
On a personal note, I found traveling to the regional libraries very rewarding. I have met some wonderful people and have come to appreciate even more the diverse physical and cultural beauty of Crimea. I look forward to the rest of this month as we make our way across the peninsula, visiting a library network that represents the over 700 libraries in Crimea.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Library turns twenty.

The staff of the library gather on the front steps for a portrait on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the library. Niyaver Kurshutov, one of the founders of the library is in the center. To his right is Nadjie Yagya and Nadjie Tairova is the woman in the white jacket. I am the gray haired woman in the upper left corner.
September 24, 2010 was the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Library. Though the official celebration will be November 4-5, when there will be series of seminars and events with many international visitors from the Turkic speaking world, a local television station wanted to do a special program on the Library to be aired on the anniversary date. So the day before found the staff busily cleaning up the library, freshening up the displays and information boards, straightening the stacks, and all those other tasks to make a library sparkle for its anniversary. Later that afternoon, we all gathered in the reading hall, along with two of the original founders, Ayder Emirova, the director of the library for the last twenty years who only recently resigned to devote more time to other endeavors, and Niyaver Kurshutov, who was assistant director all those years and retired last year at the age of 70. Nadjie Yagya and Nadjie Tairova, who were also at the library from the beginning, are still part of the staff.
The founders sat in the front of the room and answered questions from the TV station reporter. At some point, Nadjie Yagya, who is my counterpart at the library, starting talking about the experience of having a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer at the library. And then the reporter turned to me and asked my impressions of working at the library. “In Russian?” I responded. “Well, of course,” she said. Yikes, I actually was going to have to talk in Russian on TV! My struggle to learn Russian has been the biggest stumbling block for me in my work here as a Peace Corps Volunteer. A few of the library staff speak a very limited English, and one of my activities here has been conducting an English class for some of the library staff, but for the most part, I have had to do almost all my communicating in Russian. But despite my surprise and awkwardness, I made an attempt to say how much I love working at the library and the people I work with and how important I think is the mission of the library. Though after stumbling along for a bit, I switched to English so I could really say what was in my heart, that it is a great privilege to have ended up at the Gasprinskiy Library as my volunteer site and to have Nadjie Yagya as my counterpart. What a wonderful gift it has been to learn about this rich and beautiful Crimean Tatar culture and to get to know some of its peoples. My fervent hope is that someday I will be able to communicate that appreciation of the Crimean Tatar culture and people to a wide audience of American people.