A Visit by the Lithuanian Language Students

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.

The participants of the discussion

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 Lithuanian language.

The Centenary of the National Library of Lithuania

A special event. Photo credit: Agnė Jankauskaitė

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.

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Australian Lithuanian Community Archives News

Archivist Daina Pocius (on the right) and Australian Lithuanian Community President at the presentation ceremony. Photo credit: The Australian Lithuanian Archives

The Lithuanian-Australian newspaper “Mūsų pastogė” informs that last December the Australian Lithuanian Community, Inc. Board of Directors decided to invigorate the Australian Lithuanian Community Archive so that it is the preferred option for people to donate their archive material.

As a result the Board appointed a management committee, currently chaired by the interim chair Tony Cibiras. The committee is also looking for “archive ambassadors” in all communities and the organizations to help promote the Archive.

Committee’s longer term plan is to collect, collate and digitize the history of Lithuanians in Australia and make it available online. One of the options being discussed is to partner with the National Library of Lithuania to gain access to the portal www.epaveldas.lt. Another is to join with the Lithuanian Archives Project in Chicago www.lithuanianarchivesproject.org and use their portal. On November 1, the Australian Lithuanian Archives shared another piece of news. The Archives has been successful in obtaining a grant from the National Library of Australia. This highly competitive grant gives the Archives funding for a Significant

Lithuanian-American Poet and Zen Practitioner AL ZOLYNAS

By David A. Bainbridge


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. 

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The Screening of a Film by Dutch-Estonian Director

On 25 November, 2019 the screening of a film “Coming Home Soon: The Refugee Children of Geislingen” by Dutch-Estonian film director Helga Merits took place at the National Library of Lithuania. The director’s latest film is about Estonian children who fled Estonia in 1944 with their parents, sometimes with only one parent or relative, and spent the war in the Geislingen refugee camp in southern Germany.

Despite the testimonies about extreme poverty and especially difficult living conditions during and after the war, Merits says that her film is also about hope and inspiration. And while the documentary tells a story of Estonian refugee children living in the Geislingen refugee camp from 1945 to 1950, it is also the history of many Eastern Europeans. The film draws parallels with the current situation of the refugees in Europe as well. “Coming Home Soon” has already been screened in 11 countries and 24 European cities.

“Coming Home Soon” is the fifth documentary film by Helga Merits. All her films tell stories about people who were forced to leave their homes and establish new lives in new and unfamiliar places.  

The director was present at the screening and answered questions from the audience.