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The first book about the Romanian Academy Library, tells the story of its beginnings, from 1867 to 1885.
With a history of 155 years, the Romanian Academy Library is today the most important keeper of printed materials that have been produced or have circulated in the Romanian space. It had emerged as a natural consequence of the establishment, on April 1st, 1866, of the Romanian Literary Society, which a year later became the Romanian Academic Society. As of 1879, two years after Romania won its state independence, the Romanian Academy, as successor of the two previous organizations, became the most important scientific institution of the new Romanian state. The Romanian Academy Library, established in 1867, started assuming its role and increasing its knowledge fund with the help of acquisitions and donations. At the end of the 19th century, in 1897, the building that was to host the huge heritage that we have today, started being erected.
The first donor of the Library was the Orthodox Bishop of Buzau, Dionisie Romano, who offered 81 old Romanian books. In 1897, 25 years after the Bishop's death, his entire personal book fund entered the Library's possession. Other donors with substantial contributions were doctor Carol Davila, linguists Timotei Cipariu and August Treboniu Laurian, historians and archaeologists V. A. Urechia, George Barițiu and Alexandru Odobescu and inventor Petrache Poenaru. However, the person who would live its mark on the Library was its first director, linguist Ioan Bianu. In 1894, Bianu drawn up ”The Plan of National Bibliography” on five directions: a national bibliography of Romanian book, a bibliography of Romanian newspapers, an analytic bibliography that included articles from the newspapers, a registry of manuscripts and an inventory book with all documents of the Library.
The first book about the Romanian Academy Library has been coordinated by Nicolae Noica, the institution's director. In 700 pages, the book tells the story of its beginnings, from 1867 to 1885. Attending the launch of the first volume of the history of the Library, the President of the Romanian Academy, historian Ioan Aurel Pop, said the story of Romania's most important library is an important project for at least one generation.
Ioan Aurel Pop: “A history of the Romanian Academy Library in 10 volumes has never been written until now, in spite of many attempts and projects, and there is little expectation for it to be written soon. Which is why the present project, coming to life under our very eyes, is a remarkable achievement. The Romanian Academy Library took its first steps in 1867. This is believed to be its year of birth, one year after the founding of the Literary Society, the forebear of the Romanian Academy. Its role at first was to gather together, organize, and capitalize on specific national collections, book collections, and to issue and edit a retrospective national bibliography for all types of printed material.”
Ioan-Aurel Pop also said that the institution developed continuously, which, like any growing body, diversified and expanded its horizons: “The institution's aims and attributions have widened constantly in the 155 years since its founding. Today, it is the most important treasure library, the most valuable library in Romania. Its collections have an encyclopedic structure, starting with the oldest Romania language texts, going back to the 16th century, and some even older, in the chancellery and church languages, that set to paper testimonies from the past of the Romanian space - Slavonic, Latin, Ottoman Turkish, old Romanian, Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Hungarian, and more. There are also the chancellery and church texts that circulated in the Romanian space.”
According to Ioan-Aurel Pop, going to the library and reading texts of the past is an obligation for any quality research, that has relevance: “The special collections in our library grants them a unique place among the libraries that preserve such testimonies in Romania. Of those, the manuscript collection is the richest in the country, and the collections in the Print Cabinet, the Coin Cabinet, the Music Cabinet, and the Map Cabinet are true points of reference in their areas. No work on the history of sciences and disciplines, and no work on the history of culture can be written without resorting to this extraordinary institution. The library is a living institution, also organizing conferences, especially over the last years.”
The Story of the Romanian Academy Library started recently with the first volume. It is a long story, which people of culture have just started telling. (EE/CC)
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