International Conference “Religious Communities in the Age of Migration” in Kaunas

Dr. Ilona Strumickienė

On October 24-25, 2019 the Vytautas Magnus University Research Cluster “Church Relations with State and Society in Lithuania” invited a broad international group of researchers to the conference on the religious communities in the age of migration. The goal of the conference was to explore and discus the religious history and contemporary processes of the Catholic Church, religious communities (such as Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans and Orthodox), migration, and diasporas.

Researchers from various research fields: religion, theology, history, political science, sociology, cultural science, public communication, and art history representing different countries (Belarus, Finland, Hungary, Holland, US and Lithuania) gathered to the conference.

Two researchers from the Adolfas Damušis Democracy Studies Center of National Library of Lithuania participated in the conference. Dr. Ilona Strumickienė, director of the Center, in her presentation “Returning Migrants and Their Influence on Lithuania’s Social and Religious Life” talked about re-emigration processes and the religious influences and expressions brought back by re-emigrants. In presentation “Listening to ‘the Words of God’ on Lithuanian-American Radio,” Dr. Ina Ėmužienė analyzed various forms of religion in the American radio media and its different expressions and impact on the Lithuanian-American community.

The Story of BATUN Presented at the National Library of Lithuania

The author Sirje Okas Anso (on the left) was present at the event.

On September 12, a book The Story of BATUN—Baltic Appeal to the United Nations (1966-1991), published in 2018 by Estonian-born Sirje Okas Ains was presented at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. BATUN is the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian movement founded in the US in the late 1960s, which main goal was to seek independence for the Baltic States and their membership in the United Nations.

A collection of documents presents the historical narrative of the Baltic States and the successful collaboration between the three nations. The author Sirje Okas Ains offers an interesting narrative based on documents, photos and personal insights. The book also contains a collection of archival documents which include not only documents testifying to various BATUN’s activities, but also organization’s correspondence with ambassadors, materials distributed and produced by the organization, and examples of the BATUN’s newsletter.

Sirje Okas Ains is an artist and a longtime member of BATUN. She grew up in Argentina and graduated from the University of Buenos Aires. In 1968, she moved with her family to the United States, where she studied arts at New York University. In 1969, she became actively involved in BATUN becoming a member of the board. Later she was delegated to the United Nations missions and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Participants of the World Lithuanian Writers Forum Gathered at the National Library of Lithuania

On May 5-7, 2019 the First World Lithuanian Writers Forum took place in Vilnius. It was attended by more than 30 writers, translators and literary critics from fifteen countries. The program of the forum offered a variety of activities—from literary readings to the presentation of the anthology of world Lithuanian authors, Exodica, to a book exhibition of the Lithuanian émigré writers organized by the National Library of Lithuania.

The organizers of the Forum aimed at achieving several goals. The first one was to get to know each other and share different experiences and perceptions of the world. The event also commemorated the Lithuanian Press Restoration, Language and Book Day.


The participants of the Forum took a picture on the steps of the National Library of Lithuania.

On May 6, the participants of the Forum visited the National Library of Lithuania. Jolanta Budriūnienė, the director of the Documentary Heritage Research Department of the National Library of Lithuania, presented the writers to a wide range of library’s activities. She noted that the Library has become a place where more than thousand various cultural events take place every year and the space for the cultural diplomacy. “We cooperate with the embassies of the Republic of Lithuania abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. We have broadened the scope of joint works and projects in the East and West. The library is a unique place, because it traces the signs of cultural diplomacy. It’s a place where we systematically collect and house the books of Lithuanian authors published abroad. Today these publications are an important part of the Lithuanian documentary heritage,” Budriūnienė said.

The writers who gathered at the National Library of Lithuania presented the director of the Documentary Heritage Research Department with their books and publications published abroad and in Lithuania. Afterwards, the participants of the Forum were given an extensive tour of the Library.

The Book “Nylon Curtain”


Book presentation at the Library.
Photo: National Library of Lithuania

The two-volume monograph Nylon Curtain. Lithuanian Music in the Context of International History of Cold War, by the musicologists, Prof. Rūta Stanevičiūtė, Prof. Danutė Petrauskaitė, and Prof. Vita Gruodytė, was presented at the National Library of Lithuania. The book, published in 2018 by the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, consists of two volumes: a collective monograph, entitled Nylon Curtain. Cold War, International Exchanges and Lithuanian Music and a collection of correspondence, Foreign Correspondence of the Lithuanian Musicians, 1945-1990.

In the collective monograph, the authors using extensive archival documents gathered from the state and private archives, as well as published sources, analyze the channels of the exchange of musical information among the individuals and institutions in Lithuania and foreign countries that took place during the Soviet period. They also looked into the reasons that encouraged promoting personal and transnational relations between the two musical environments divided by the ideological confrontation of the Cold War, and posed questions, such as: which ideological, economic, and cultural constraints and differences limited such exchange and what impact international exchanges had on the national music scene.

Continue reading “The Book “Nylon Curtain””

Two books on Lithuanian-American Contribution to Lithuania’s Independence

This year, two capital books about Lithuanian-American contribution to Lithuania’s statehood and independence were published in Lithuania.

The first book, Long Live Lithuania! Lithuanian American Contribution to Lithuania’s Statehood is a compilation of documents, discussions, articles, correspondence and comments of various US governmental institutions and Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. related to the long-standing efforts by Lithuanian-Americans to fight for Lithuania’s freedom. The compiler of the book, Regina Narusis, JD, the chairman of the Royal Palace Restoration Committee for the USA and along-time chairman of Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. and World Lithuanian Community, hopes that the new book will contribute to a better understanding of Lithuanian-American input into the restoration and consolidation of Lithuania’s statehood from the late 19th century to the present day.

The second book, Lithuanian American Support for Lithuania 1918-2018 by prof. Juozas Skirius, based on archival documents, periodicals, memoirs and other sources, sheds light on the activities of Lithuanian-Americans from 1918 to 2018. The author distinguishes three main periods, during which Lithuanian immigrants in the US have provided financial, political, informational and cultural support to their compatriots in the homeland and Lithuanian state. They defended Lithuania’s independence and made efforts to liberate Lithuanian nation from multiple occupations.The book also discusses the activities of Lithuanian-American charity organizations and their attempts to provide financial support to Lithuania and its people.

Exhibition and Discussion about Russian Diaspora Publications and Publishers

At the start of 2018, a Swiss Arminio Sciolli decided to donate part of his Russian diaspora literature collection to the National Library of Lithuania. The collection consists of rare books, not yet seen in Lithuania. The geography of the collection covers a wide range of places – from South Africa to China – where Russian diaspora communities lived at the beginning of the twentieth century.

On September 21, 2018, the Library invited to the exhibition “Russian Diaspora Literature” opening and discussion about Russian diaspora publications and publishers. Dr. Pavel Lavrinec, Vilnius University professor, provided a broader context and a general overview of the exhibition. Prof. Tomas Venclova, Yale University emeritus and professor of Slavic literature, talked about the history of Russian diaspora in Harbin, China, its cultural life and his impressions from recent trip there.