September 24, 2010, marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Gasprinsky Library, the first Crimean Tatar library. In celebration of this anniversary and also the 120th anniversary of the birthdate of the famous Turkologist, Ahmet-Zaki Validi Togan, the Gasprinsky Library and the international organization TURKSOY, presented a two-day conference in Simferopol and Bakhchisarai on November 4th and 5th.
Guests came from the national libraries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, the Kyrsyz Republic, and the Russian republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. Also present was the daughter of Ahmet-Zaki Validi Togan, Isenbike Togan, who is a professor at the Middle East Technical University in Istanbul. It turns out she is a fluent English speaker, having obtained her Ph.D. at Harvard, and lived for a number of years in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, so we had much to talk about.
Besides the guests from the Turkic speaking countries, experts from Tauride National University and Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University in Simferopol also presented papers, along with staff from the Gasprinsky Library.
Topics at the conference included: The Role of Libraries in the Revival and Development of Crimean Tatar Education and Culture; the Development of Cooperation in the Culture Heritage of Turkic-speaking Countries; and Turkic National and Social-political Identity in the First Quarter of the 20th Century. Several papers were presented on Ahmet-Zaki Validi Togan including: The Influence of Admet-Zaki Validi Togan on Tatar Culture; Admet-Zaki Validi Togan’s Life and Work and The 120 Years Since the Birth of Ahmet-Zaki Validi Togan. His daughter, Isenbike Togan, spoke about Ahmet-Azki Validi Togan “My Father and Teacher.”
On the first day of the conference, a celebratory reception was held at the Gasprinsky Library, an event the library had been preparing for for over a month. “Sprucing up” projects had been occurring for days—the windows and trim on the front veranda were painted; the Reading Hall was revived with a fresh coat of paint and framed photographs of the history of the library; each department created new displays for the hallway information panels; and a beautiful collection of photographs of the paintings of renown Crimean Tatar artist Erfan Hafiev was hung in the hallway.
Guests came from libraries across Simferopol and Crimea to present tributes to the Gasprinsky Library on its 20th anniversary. Though I did not understand all the speeches, the obvious appreciation of the library and the work it has done came through loud and clear, despite the language barrier. And perhaps my favorite moment was when two singers led everyone in heartfelt traditional Crimean Tatar songs. And of course, the celebratory glass of wine I shared with my counterpart, Nadjie. I felt so honored to be part of this event.
Representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Orlova Children's Library, and Franco Library welcome guests to the celebration.
The Reading Hall at Gasprinsky Library is packed with guests.
Ayder Emirov, until recently director of the Gasprinsky Library for most of its twenty years, talks about the founding of the library.
Representatives from the Central Library in Alushta and other Crimean libraries present tributes.
The foreign guests are introduced.
Isenbike Togan talks about her father as Nail Akramovich Kambeev, Director of the National Library of Tatarstan, and Daribaeva Gulshat Gabdullaevna, Deputy Director of the National Academic Library in the Republic of Kazakhstan look on.
Nail Akramovich Kambeev presents a gift to the library.To the left are Tunzhel Azhar, Director of the National Library of Turkey, and Antonina Gezikova, Deputy Director of the National Libary of Ahmet-Zaki Validi Togan.
The audience is led in singing by Crimean Tatar national singer, Rustem Memetov.
Afterwards, guests share conversation and champagne. Here is Ahat Salikhov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Baskortostan, and Fevzi Yakubov, Rector of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University in Simferopol.
My counterpart, Nadjie Yagya, and I celebrate.