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.


No comments:

Post a Comment