Rural Library Support Association
Latvia’s Rural Library Support Association was established in 2003 with the purpose of supporting rural residents and peripheral libraries in the country with major gifts of books and regularly scheduled book festivals in Latvia’s various regions. The festivals allow people in Latvia’s regions and small towns, as well as representatives of local media outlets, to meet with writers and other representatives of the creative professions to talk about timely issues. They also feature opportunities to meet with representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament.
The book festivals of the Rural Library Support Association have become a stable tradition in Latvia’s cultural life, and this year, for the 10th time, people are going to be invited to take part in serious discussions aimed at encouraging the interest of existing and future readers in Latvian culture, also strengthening the ability of local residents to understand the cultural values and specifics of other European nations. At the end of each year, the Rural Library Support Association organises a concluding event to award the Great Reader Prize. Candidates are nominated by public libraries on the basis of their statistics. This also helps to determine those books which are in greatest demand. Authors and publishers are also congratulated at the events.
President Valdis Zatlers is a fan of the Rural Library Support Association and its festivals. For four years now, he has actively supported the organisation and encouraged everyone in Latvia to take part in the wonderful process that is reading. The President has also called on people to donate books to libraries. “If each and every one of us were to donate something small to our town, home or school to make it more beautiful and better, then each of us would also receive the gift, because we are Latvia, and only in this way can we educate the people and strengthen the spiritual links of Latvians,” says the President.
In 2008, President Zatlers travelled to the town of Aloja to open the 7th book festival. In his speech, the President said that a library is more than just a compendium of culture and knowledge. It is also a massive dowry chest which contains the symbols of the nation’s existence. The President presented books to the Aloja library which, he said, should be in every library – three volumes about people from Latvia who were deported in 1941 and 1949, two volumes of Dzintra Geka’s collection of stories told by people who were deported to Siberia as children, as well as several valuable books about Latvian history.
The book festival in 2010 was celebrated in 20 regions and towns, thus continuing with the tradition of supporting rural and school libraries so that they can become important centres for social activities.
The book and reading festivals in 2011 will begin in March and continue until October. At each event, local residents will learn about newly published books, and they will also meet with publishers and authors. There will be particularly attractive and interesting aspects of the programme for children and teens.