Ekaterinburg Mayor Arkadiy Tchernetskiy

More information on the agenda for 'Ekaterinburg the Russian Library City 2006' can be obtained from:


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Ekaterinburg Mayor believes investing
in libraries gives city competitive edge

By Alexey Pryadein, Russia correspondent

19 September 2005: With the advent of the internet many experts in various spheres predicted the demise of that great institution – the public library. Global networks opened up possibilities of access to unlimited information, but time has proved that these two ways of gaining information – the library and the internet – do not mutually exclude each other in their uses in relation to research, leisure and cultural growth.

In fact, the significance and importance of libraries has grown constantly over the past decade. One reason is that the systematization of information by libraries is demanded by the worldwide web as the basis for its information and its storage of it.

Thus the library remains the most important link in the various chains of socialisation, education, research and innovation in every sector of economics, with cities forming the hubs and cores in the flow of information.

Maintaining a system of libraries enables a city to develop its competitive advantage, which is something that must undoubtedly be taken into consideration. For the library is no longer to be considered an archaic institution but rather as something linking the modern age with the traditions and wisdom of the past, allowing a continuous ‘conversation’ to take place between present and past.

In Russia, the overall problem of the libraries lies in their ownership – federal, state and municipal. This means that they are inevitably under-funded. Staff are poorly paid and books and periodicals are not replenished regularly.

During the transition of the 1990s, those cities whose municipalities had the foresight to keep this crucial aspect of culture alive – realising that it was also an economic advantage – have benefited greatly. They are now becoming centres of education, and of research and development, with correspondingly growing incomes.

Ekaterinburg, with its knowledge-intensive manufacturing economy, wasted no time in investing in its municipal libraries, as well as lobbying the state and federal libraries in the regional and national financial boards.

As a result, the city now has a chain of modern municipal scientific libraries, including the Library of the City Mayor, libraries for children, libraries dedicated to fiction, 27 university libraries, a regional scientific library (one of the largest in Russia) and a number of specialist libraries specific to different sectors of the economy.

All of them are included in the united information network and respresent a phenomenal source of information for scientists and professionals in all trades and disciplines. The city is now embarking upon a strategic project called “Library. XXI Century”.

Because of all this, the Russian Library Association has named Ekaterinburg the Library Capital for 2006. To most people, appreciating the hard work put in by the city administration and Mayor A Tchernetskiy, this came as no surprise. There has been nationwide recognition of Ekaterinburg’s contribution to keeping alive the country’s cultural and scientific heritage. Such foresight, in its understanding of the role of knowledge in wealth-creation and quality of life, has had substantial results.

The agenda for forthcoming events includes the International Librarian Forum and a number of other initiatives dedicated to literature, science and librarianship technologies.

The Forum will attract more than 1,000 librarians from Russia (a large number considering the levels of employment in libraries), Russian and foreign booksellers and publishers. The main theme will be to emphasise the outstanding role of the city in discovering, developing and maintaining knowledge.

For the year 2006 Ekaterinburg will become not only the Library City, but also a place where national culture and science will develop into the next stage, confirming the city’s leading position in Russia’s economic, cultural and social progress.

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