For the third summer in a row, the National Library of Lithuania has been contributing to the teachings of teachers of Lithuanian Saturday schools abroad organized by Vytautas Magnus University. This year, twenty teachers from Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, Belarus, Estonia, USA, Poland, Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany and Ukraine took part in an on-line course.
The event started on July 27 with the World Summer Language and Culture Forum. First lady Diana Nausėdienė, the chairman of the Seimas Committee of Education and Science Prof. Eugenijus Jovaiša, the rector of Vytautas Magnus University Prof. Juozas Augutis, Deputy Director General for the Development of Information Resources and Services of the National Library of Lithuania Sandra Leknickienė and other distinguished guests participated in the Forum.
Part of the lectures for teachers took place at the Library. A few lectures were given by the Library staff. On July 31, the lecture on the contemporary Lithuanian literature was presented by the head of the Lithuanian Studies Unit Prof. Dainius Vaitiekūnas. On the same day, another staff member of the unit, chief researcher Prof. Jolanta Zabarskaitė discussed with teachers how to build personal vocabulary. On August 8, Dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė, also from the Lithuanian Studies Unit, gave a talk about the late Soviet era in Lithuania and its representation in rock-n-roll music.
On July 17, 2020, the Day of Lithuanian Unity in the World, the National Library of Lithuania presented a new virtual exhibition dedicated to the Lithuanian press abroad after 1990.
The exhibition consists of seven chapters. It invites to learn more about the newspapers and magazines published in Europe, the United States of America, South America, Canada and Australia. Extremely rich and diverse corpus of Lithuanian press published in the US is worth a separate exhibition, for example, the daily Draugas, founded in 1909, is the oldest Lithuanian newspaper published without a break in the world.
Topical issues of the Lithuanian press in America are also discussed in the section on periodicals which have been transferred to Lithuania after the country regained independence. Lithuanian radio and television programs abroad also receive special attention in the exhibition: from the Margutis Radio Program, founded in 1932 in Chicago, to the contemporary podcasts accessible on the Internet.
The article was originally published in December 2013 issue of“Lapas” (2013, no. 65, p. 10.)
With the announcement on page 2 that subscriptions for Lapas are increasing next year, I would like to acquaint readers with the history of Lapas and how it came into existence.
When I arrived in Brisbane [Australia] in 1990 and first went to the Lithuanian Club in September of that year, I met a number of Lithuanians around my age then (37), give or take a few years either way, who spoke little or no Lithuanian. Some of them told me they grew up feeling they did not fit in as they were brought up Lithuanian, but without speaking the language, so there was an inner turmoil of where they belonged. I related to this too. Although born in Australia, I was brought up Lithuanian also, and when I started school, I didn‘t know a word of English, so I never really fitted in either.
The article was originally published in premier issue of “Lithuanian Heritage Magazine” (2014, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 2), as an editorial signed by the publishers and editors.
1994 marks the 120th anniversary of Lithuanian press in America. In 1874 a one-page leaflet by an anonymous author, written in the Lithuanian language, was printed in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
From that humble beginning, newspapers and magazines of every type, size and ideological context began to be published. They would serve the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian immigrants arriving to the shores of the New World.
The purpose of those publications was threefold: First, to keep the newcomers up-to-date on conditions and events occurring in Lithuania – particularly in the ancestral homes and farms they left behind; second, to preserve and perpetuate the language, customs and traditions of those who had already settled in America and had begun to assimilate into its fastpaced environment; and third, – since Lithuania was under Russian czarist oppression at the time – to awaken the immigrants’ patriotic spirit and to nurture the idea of a future free and independent Lithuania.
There were ten issues of The Lithuanian Times. Juozas Algimantas Kazlasfounded the publication and edited the first 9 issues, from January 1989 to September 1991. Aukse Trojanas was the editor of the last issue, in September 1992.
The Lithuanian Times was intended primarily for New York and especially Manhattan Lithuanians, many of whom were young and middle-aged professionals who had arrived from other parts of the U.S. The title was a deliberate imitation of The New York Times, and the contents provided quick information to busy people in English with an occasional dash of humor. Each issue consisted of two sides of one sheet of paper of standard American size. In addition to making it a compact source of information, this format also made it easy to duplicate and to mail. Duplication was often done by Kazlas using a photocopy machine at work after hours, at the Shearson-Lehman financial corporation on Wall St., or in the office of a lawyer friend. With his wife, theatre director, actor and instructor Rasa Allan Kazlas, they would stuff several hundred copies of the newsletter into envelopes, attach stamps and mail them.
The end of WWII did not bring freedom and liberation for all countries and nations. Central and Eastern Europe fell into the grip of the Soviets and found itself isolated from the free world. Immediately after the war, relations between the Soviet Union and former allies began to deteriorate. It became clear to the Western world countries that the Soviet propaganda was a serious challenge to their national security and that measures needed to be taken to counteract this threat.
The position of the US as one of the superpowers had been particularly important. Assessing the technological possibilities of the time, soon it was realized that radio broadcasts penetrating through the Iron Curtain could be one of the most effective means of ideological struggle against the USSR. The US government devoted a lot of human and material resources to organizing radio broadcasts to Soviet-controlled areas. The waves of US radio stations also reached Lithuania and contributed greatly to the spread of Western and democratic values, the rise of national awareness, and the formation of a critical position towards the Soviet Union.
A book by historian Inga Arlauskaitė Zakšauskienė, “The Descent of Hope. US Radio Broadcasts to Soviet Lithuania” published by Vilnius University Press analysis this phenomenon.
A conversation with the author of the book led by Dr. Ilona Strumickienė, director of the Adolfas Damušis Center for Democratic Studies at the National Library of Lithuania, can be found on Youtube (in Lithuanian):