Monday, October 29, 2012

Gasprinskiy Library celebrates the arrival of the Terdjiman collection

October 24, 2012, was a special day at the library. With the help of a Peace Corps Partnership Grant and an individual named Renat Abibulaev, the Gasprinskiy Library was able to realize their long held dream of obtaining a complete collection of Ismail Gasprinskiy’s newspaper, Terdjiman.  Published from 1883 to 1918, Terdjiman was the first newspaper in Crimean Tatar history and became the most widely read newspaper among Muslims of the Russian empire. Islamic historian, Brian Glyn Williams, notes the importance of Terdjiman:
Crimean Muslim peasants who gathered before the village mosque to hear young students read aloud from the pages of Tercüman were, for the first time, exposed to events taking place beyond their immediate world. In the pages of Tercüman Gaspirali wrote of technical inventions in the United States of America, wars in the Balkans, the modernization of Japan, reform in the Ottoman Empire, the spread of European colonialism in Asia and Africa, the growing movement for women's rights in the West, etc

A number of years ago the library was able to acquire approximately 30% of Terdjiman on microfilm, but their attempts since that time to acquire the remaining 70% had been futile. When I first came to the library in 2009, researching ways to acquire the rest of Terdjiman became one of my initial tasks. The originals of Terdjiman are located in the National Library of Russia and microfilms of them are available, but tracking down where to purchase digital copies and how much they would cost was a daunting task. I went from the original supplier of the microfilms to the library, to the company who had later purchased the inventory (but whom never responded to my inquiries), and finally, directly to the National Library of Russia. There at least I did find some answers, but the costs of digital copies of Terdjiman were prohibitive and the copies were impossible to obtain long distance.

In the meantime, we wrote a Peace Corps Partnership Grant with the goal of at least digitizing the microfilms of Terdjiman that the library had in their collection and with the hope that perhaps a way would be found to acquire the entire collection.  Through the generosity of my American friends, family, and individuals I did not know but who saw the fundraising appeal on the Peace Corps website, over $4000 was raised for the project. (See Nov. 15, 2011 and subsequent posts).

Because we ended up raising $1000 more than our original goal, the library once again considered how to acquire a complete collection of Gasprinskiy’s newspaper. Fortuitously, Renat Abibulaev, a Crimean Tatar who is a Russian citizen and lives in St. Petersburg where the National Library of Russia is located, happened to be visiting our library at that time and offered to help us.  Through his diligent efforts over the next few months—frequent trips to the NLR, consultations with the librarians there as to the quality of the digital copies, meticulously attention to the necessary paperwork--the Gasprinskiy Library ultimately realized its long sought dream of having a complete collection of the Terdjiman newspapers. 

On October 24th, many people came to the library to celebrate this achievement and to thank Renat Abibulaev for his hard work and the American citizens who donated money to the project.  Present at the celebration were representatives from the Crimean government, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Crimean Tatar elders, academics and historians, and individuals from the community, including the great granddaughter of Ismail Gasprinskiy. I felt fortunate to be part of this historic occasion and glad that a Peace Corps grant helped make it all possible.

I thank Renat and the donors to our project (my first public speaking in Russian!).
The beautiful voice of this young Crimean Tatar girl added to the celebration.
Cafure Kadzhametova, Crimean Rada Deputy, was one of the dignitaries on hand to congratulate the library.

Renat explains the process of acquiring the copies of Terdjiman.

Renat Abibulaev
Some of the forty plus Americans who donated to our project.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More photos from seminar on improving library access for the visually impaired.

Participants at the seminar in the Reading Hall of the Gasprinskiy Library.

After lunch, the participants gathered in front of the KrimTIZ building (formerly location of UTOS) for a tour of the facilities.

A participant feels a book in braille.

KrimTIZ member demonstrates a mechanism for writing in braille.

At the Gasprinskiy Library, Lilya Emirova demonstrates the new computer in the internet center with JAWS for Windows.

MAgic Window software on the computer.

MAgic Window magnifies google search.

Inproving Library Services for Visually Impaired People

On October 4th, the Gasprinskiy Library hosted a seminar, “Improving Library Services for Visually Impaired People,” funded by our third Peace Corps Small Program Assistance (SPA) grant.  We partnered on this grant with KrimTIZ, a local NGO that advocates for visually impaired people and UTOS, which is a Ukrainian-wide organization that provides jobs and rehabilitation for visually impaired people.

Librarians from the central libraries across Crimea attended the seminar, along with librarians from the libraries at the UTOS centers in seven Crimean cities. The participants heard from experts on the topic of working with visually impaired people and also had a chance to see the adaptive software JAWS for Windows which is a screen reading program and Magic Windows which magnifies the display. Through the SPA grant, we were able to purchase these programs and also computers with oversize monitors for our internet center and the newly created internet center (funded by our project) at KrimTIZ. 

At the end of the seminar, the participants decided to prepare an appeal to the Crimean government and the private sector to provide practical help to people with visual impairment. A great success!

Here are some photos from the seminar:
From left to right: Ivan Lutov, Deputy Director of UTOS, Leonid Jigalo, Director of KrimTIZ, and Gulnara Yagyaeva, Director of the Gasprinskiy Library, welcome the participants to the seminar.

Lilya Emirova, Head of Information Technology at Gasprinskiy, talks about Gasprinskiy Library programs for the visually impaired and the recent conference in Kherson.

Elena Brova, head librarian at the UTOS center in Simferopol, shows some of the information available at the library.

Psychologist from the Simferopol School for the Visually Impaired, Natalia Chechel, gives pointers on working with visually impaired children and adults.

Seminar participants enjoy a coffee break on the library's veranda.

Constantin Benimovich, teacher at the School for the Visually Impaired,

Andrei Ermolenko, teacher of computer literacy at UTOS, provides information on computer access for the visually impaired.