The Baltic Diaspora Conference in Panevėžys

In May 2019, the Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Panevėžys County Public Library together with Vilnius University Faculty of Communication organized the 20th international conference dedicated to the Baltic diaspora documentary heritage from 1944 to 2018. This year, the annual event earmarked the Year of World Lithuanians.  

Jolanta Budriūnienė, head of the National Library of Lithuania Documentary Heritage Research Department, presented the paper in the conference

The organizers of the conference proposed more than ten subtopics, highlighting theoretical and methodological issues when dealing with the documentary heritage, cultural and scientific diaspora figures and their legacy, typology of publications and their repertoire, memory institutions and collections, archives, video and audio, as well as preservation, actualization, and digitization initiatives, new media, and the use of the diaspora documentary heritage for cultural communication.

The conference was carried out in two sections: “Archives, Collections and Obstacles in Getting Them (Back)” and “Cultural Press and Literary-Historical Reminiscences.” 25 presentations were presented at the event. For the first time, the conference expanded its geographic boundaries becoming international. Participants from Estonia and Latvia attended the conference.

The Lithuanian Charter Turns Seventy

Dalia Cidzikaitė

On June 14, 1949 in Augsburg, Germany, Lithuania’s Supreme Liberation Committee published a pocket-size book World Community of Lithuanians (Dr. Haas & Cie., KG., Augsburg), also known as the Lithuanian Charter. The document laid the foundations of the Lithuanian World Community, Inc., brought together and provided the new meaning to thousands of Lithuanian war refugees.

The Lithuanian Charter empowered Lithuanians, who after WWII once again found themselves homeless, to continue to fight for Lithuania’s independence and to strive to maintain at all costs not only the family and kinship, but also the national connection, so that “each countryman met abroad [would] be like brother.”

The Lithuanian Charter is exhibited at the National Library of Lithuania.

The publication of the Lithuanian Charter was Committee’s response to the rapidly changing situation of Lithuanian war refugees in post-war Germany and the future full of anxiety and uncertainty. At the end of the war, it became clear that Lithuania would not regain its independence yet, therefore many refugees decided to take advantage of the opportunity to immigrate to Canada, Australia, the United States and other countries not affected by war. Prelate Mykolas Krupavičius, the chairman of the Committee, and other members of the organization decided to establish a Lithuanian community in each country and create one united Lithuanian community abroad.

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Lithuanian Exile Media History Presented at the EMHIS Symposium

On May 14-16, 2019 the 8th Symposium of the Entangled Media Histories research network “Current Challenges of Entangled Media Histories—Theories, Sources and Methodologies” was organized in the Welsh countryside outside Newtown. The symposium was hosted and organised by Jamie Medhurst of the University of Aberystwyth in collaboration with the EMHIS coordinator Marie Cronqvist of Lund University. The main goal of the symposium was to discuss the future of the EMHIS network and to highlight personal challenges, as well as cooperation possibilities.

Symposium’s participants. Photo credit: EMHIS “Facebook.”

The researchers from nine countries gathered to discuss their problems and to present the sources and databases they use in their research. A few presentations addressed the complicated history of the Baltic region and research on migration.

One of them was Dr. Ina Ėmužienė, a researcher at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, participant of the BaltHerNet conferences. She presented a topic on Lithuanian media in exile. In her presentation, Ina talked about diaspora research, sources, and data bases based in the Baltic region.

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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 LAC Exhibition at the National Library of Lithuania

The exhibition at the Library. Photo: National Library of Lithuania

The travelling exhibition “We Created the Lithuanian State Together: The Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. 1951-2018” at the National Library of Lithuania highlights the fact that Lithuanian-Americans have always kept close contact with the homeland and have contributed to country’s development.

Lithuanian diaspora is an integral part of Lithuanian history. Despite the geographical distance, the Lithuanian immigrants tirelessly worked on behalf of Lithuania. Various initiatives of many relief organizations, the financial support, active propaganda work, and the establishment and strengthening of political, economic, and cultural relations between the US and Lithuania are undeniable evidence of the united struggle for Lithuanian independence.

Fighting for the independence of Lithuania was one of the main goals of the Lithuanian-American Community, Inc. founded in 1951. When Lithuania regained its independence, the LAC, which unites all Lithuanians living in the US, has actively cooperated with the homeland and its institutions, contributed to the development of ties between Lithuanian and the US government and business representatives.

Today, the ultimate goal of the LAC is to preserve Lithuanian culture and traditions and pass it onto the future generations. The organization’s main emphasis is on Lithuanian education, cultural, scientific, social, economic, religious, and sport and other activities in the US. It cooperates with other Lithuanian-American organizations, the US non-governmental organizations, and introduces Americans to Lithuania. Americans of Lithuanian descent and their non-Lithuanian spouses are also welcomed in the LAC.

The exhibition, which runs at the Library until the end of May, testifies to the glorious history of the LAC and introduces to its past and present activities.