Damušis Democracy Studies Centre
of the National Library of
implementing a new project which main focus is Lithuanian re-emigration. Entitled
“30 Stories for 30 Years: The Experiences of Returning Immigrants and Their
Contribution to the Strengthening of Lithuanian Statehood” the project draws
attention to those who have returned from emigration, emphasizing the motives
of both emigration and re-emigration, peoples’ experiences, successes, and
failures. The story of American Lithuanians, Adolfas and Jadvyga Damušis,
who returned to Lithuania in 1997, also played a role in choosing this
particular topic for the new project.
To preserve the
memory of emigrants and their experiences, the implementers of the project plan
to conduct a series of interviews with Lithuanians who returned to Lithuania and
who contributed to different spheres of life in Lithuania.
A year ago, the former cultural attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in the United Kingdom, Rita Valiukonytė, handed over to the National Library of Lithuania the cultural documents of the diplomatic mission of the Republic of Lithuania in London. The archive covers the period from 1991 to 2016. Most of the documents were accumulated during the time served by two cultural attachés, Daiva Parulskienė (2008-2012) and Rita Valiukonytė (2012-2016).
The archive shows
the development of cultural relations between the Republic of Lithuania and the
UK and the efforts of the diplomatic mission to introduce the British people
with the works of prominent Lithuanian artists and the achievements of
Lithuanian scholars. It includes programs of various art events, presentations
by artists, correspondence regarding the events, press releases, reviews and
articles on Lithuanian artists, prominent Lithuanians living and working in the
UK, and recent developments in Lithuanian art and history. A separate part of
the archive is presentations of Lithuanian Jewish history and culture.
comprehensive and rich archive has become part of the Rare Books and
Manuscripts Unit of the National Library of Lithuania collection and is awaiting
its researchers and readers.
In January, the Academy of Education of Vytautas
Magnus University (VMU) organized the Lithuanian Language and Culture winter
course. Students from more than fifteen countries came to Vilnius to learn the
language and get acquainted with Lithuanian culture and history.
On January 14, students visited the National Library
of Lithuania. They listened to the lecture on Lithuanian diaspora and its most
prominent representatives in science, politics, economy, culture, and art given
by Dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė, chief researcher
of the Lithuanian Documentary Heritage Department of the National Library of
Lithuania. Afterwards, the students were given a tour of the library, followed
by a discussion about the image of Lithuania created by foreigners studying
In 1919, the
young state of Lithuania began creating its main institutions. One of them was
the Central State Bookstore founded on December 20, 1919 which later would
become the National Library of Lithuania. The most important functions of the
Bookstore in Kaunas were to collect mandatory copies of publications published
in Lithuania and the books of persons who for one or another reason were no
longer their owners and of former tsarist institutions. In the first year, the Bookstore
housed approximately 18,000 books. Today the National Library of Lithuania has
6.5 million of books.
I would like to introduce you to my favorite poet, Algirdas Zolynas. His most recent book was his just released, Near and Far, Garden Oak Press, December, 2019,141 pages. $11.69 at B&N.
Al’s poems are personal, rich in
emotion, and often leavened with humor. Many capture the beauty and mystery of
every day life. Some of my favorites include: Bread, In Gratitude; Near
Sunskai, Lithuania; Watching a Day; the Western Felt Works, Leaving Kaunas,
1944, and Sideways Down Rapids.
Also worth a look in earlier books:
Love in the Classroom, The Zen of Housework, Nothing to do—Nowhere to go, The
Way He’d Like it, Running down Summit Avenue in Saint Paul in a Heavy Snowfall,
and Living with Others.
Al was born in Austria of Lithuanian
parents in 1945. They had fled the Soviet advance and survived bombing raids in
Berlin. His parents became part of the wave of 11 million displaced people (DP)
after the war. His father had been an attorney and one of his grandfathers
signed the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence in 1918. As refugees they
were refused entry to the US, where you had to have a sponsor, a place to live,
and a guarantee that you would not displace American workers or, better yet, a
related American citizen.