How the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library was established

Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London was founded in 1971 and has developed the largest collection of Belarus-related publications in Western Europe. Nowadays, it is the only library outside Belarus to collect exclusively in the field of Belarusian studies and its collection is the most comprehensive in this field in Western Europe. This extract from the book “Ceslaus Sipovich: the first Belarusian Catholic Bishop in the 20th century (1914-1981)” by Alexander Nadson tells its story. Continue reading

An Unparalleled Authority on the History of Belarusian Literature

Prof Arnold McMillin

Photo by Alexandra Belookaya

On 21 June Prof Arnold McMillin will celebrate his 75th birthday. Until he retired in 2006, he was a Chair of Russian Literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. He is particularly well known and loved for researching Belarusian literature. Prof McMillin is the author of the first English-language history of Belarusian literature, published in 1977. Since then, he has remained an unrivaled authority on the subject in the English-speaking world. His academic achievements are also a great witness to the work of small community-run libraries in Britain. Continue reading

Arnold McMillin: “When Belarusians came, they started with the library”

Prof. Arnold McMillin is dearly loved for his enormous contribution to studying and popularising Belarusian literature, for supporting the Belarusian community in Britain and Belarusian Studies as an academic field; as well as for his warm character and ingenious humour. Despite the fact that Prof. McMillin has been interviewed on dozens of occasions, in Belarus and other countries, we felt that one particular topic has always been overlooked in those conversations: his relationship with the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum. In the following interview we have attempted to fill that gap.

Prof Arnold McMillin

Photo by Alexandra Belookaya

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To Donors and Potential Donors: 2015 Report

Thank you to those of you who supported the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in 2015. Your kind donations exceeded £4,100 and, together with modest income from the library’s endowment, allowed the charity to continue its work.

Letter to download (PDF). See also the Trustees Annual Report 2015

The main concern of the Library trustees in the past year has been to find ways of ensuring that the Library collections become more easily accessible to the public. For the foreseeable future it will not be possible for the Library to be open on a daily basis, but a rota of members of the Board of trustees has now been established to enable access to users for set hours on Saturdays. Continue reading

Trustees’ Annual Report for 2015

Summary of the objects of the charity set out in its governing document

See also To Donors and Potential Donors: Report 2015

As part of the Belarusian community in the United Kingdom, to preserve the cultural heritage of the Belarusian people; contribute to the life of this community by providing access to cultural artefacts in a variety of forms and media; support and promote academic Belarusian studies; encourage interest in Belarus among the British public. (Mission Statement)

Summary of the main activities undertaken for the public benefit in relation to these objects (include within this section the statutory declaration that trustees have had regard to the guidance issued by the Charity Commission on public benefit)

Throughout the past year activities of the Trust focused on the following aims: Continue reading

Vera Rich and Guy Picarda – the Centipede’s Dilemma [1]

Jim Dingley
English text – January 2016. This paper was delivered at the Congress of the International Association of Belarusianists (Міжнародная асацыяцыя беларусістаў), held in Miensk in May 2015.

A centipede was happy – quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
Which threw her mind in such a pitch,
She lay bewildered in the ditch
Considering how to run.

The idea for this paper stems from the process of change through which the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum is currently going. In the main these changes focus on digitisation, and thereby making the Library collection more available to readers on a worldwide scale. As a first step the Board of Trustees of the Library is addressing the digitisation of the large number of boxes of archive material; after all, these archives are one of the features of the library that make it unique. Continue reading

Belarusians in the UK: library as a soft-power tool

Ihar Ivanoŭ
This article appeared in Belarusian Review, Vol. 27, No. 3.

When few months ago the Anglo-Belarusian Society held an event commemorating the life and work of Guy Picarda, a former Chair of the Society and promoter of the Belarusian culture in the UK, one of his close friends noted that Guy Picarda re-discovered the Belarusian sacral music for people in Belarus. It was not an exaggeration to say: he indeed was the first researcher to take the Belarusian sacral music tradition seriously and approached it as a researcher.

Most of his research was conducted at the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum in London. Using their own heritage, Picarda effectively created a new field of knowledge for Belarusians. Many similar stories going back to the network of Belarusian organisations and institutions in London established after the Second World War can be told. Among those organisations, the Skaryna Library is the best known and respected.

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