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24 Jan 2018

Belarus’ National Library preparing to recreate Primer of 1618

MINSK, 24 January (BelTsA) – In 2018 Belarus’ National Library is preparing a large-scale project to mark the 400th anniversary of the first Primer. It was published in 1618 and believed to have the Belarusian roots, Director of Belarus’ National Library Roman Motulsky told a press conference in Minsk, BelTA has learned.

The goal of the project is to create the facsimile edition and popularize it. The Primer was published in 1618. Only two examples of this unique Primer have survived in the world. One of them is incomplete and is kept in Denmark, in the Royal Library. The other is the only complete copy of the Primer in the Church Slavonic language. It is housed in the Middle Temple Library, London. The edition is extremely rare. Practically nobody has studied it. Belarusian researchers have recently received such opportunity.

No single example of the book has survived in Belarus. This is because the Primers were inexpensive books and were read to tatters as it often happens with educational materials. So no copy has survived.

It is believed that the book was published by Belarusians. Chances are that one of its authors was Meletius Smotrytsky who published the grammar book a year later.

The authorship of Europe’s first edition of the book defined as Primer is believed to belong to the Belarusians. This gives an opportunity to Belarus to position itself as a country with rich traditions, significant achievements in education. This is also a great occasion to showcase the country’s rich heritage as was the case with the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Belarusian book printing in 2017, Roman Motulsky said.

The project to create the facsimile edition of the Primer has been supported by the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Republic of Belarus, Belarus Embassy in the UK, Belarus Education Ministry, Belinvestbank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Belarus.

Chairman of the Board of Belinvestbank Andrei Brishtelev noted that this is not the only project that has been implemented by the bank together with the National Library for more than eight years of cooperation. Among the significant events was the exhibition of Belinvestbank corporate collection in the National Library featuring the works of Belarusian authors. Today, together with a number of universities the bank is implementing a project on enabling students’ access to the library resources without a library reader’s pass.


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