Posted 12 декабря 2022,, 18:00

Published 12 декабря 2022,, 18:00

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Library scandal: Moscow optimization found the way to books books

Library scandal: Moscow optimization found the way to books books

12 декабря 2022, 18:00
In the very center of Moscow - a scandal. As is known, by decision of the Department of Culture of Moscow, the libraries of the capital were transferred under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of United Cultural Centers, the main goal of which is to earn money.

Officials hoped that everything would go unnoticed, but with the Voloshin library it turned out differently.

Irina Mishina

I'll start from afar. My 13 year old daughter loves to read. But she reads almost everything on electronic media, downloading the books she needs on the Internet. Almost all of her peers do the same. If earlier we took away books for the summer in the regional library, for some time now only electronic ones have been a priority. But it would never occur to anyone in our family to dispose of or sell, for example, the Brockhaus and Efron encyclopedia or Pushkin's collected works with illustrations by Makovsky, as well as G.K. Zhukov's memoirs with unique photographs and letters. After all, a book is not just a collection of pages. It is also a carrier of unique information and priceless data. But the Moscow Department of Culture probably has a different opinion. A significant part of the books of Moscow libraries was sentenced to write-off.

Condemned to business

It all started with photographs that were at the disposal of our editors. They were made in the cellars of Moscow libraries, where hundreds, thousands of books were lowered, on which the inscription: "defective" flaunts. They are written off with the knowledge and consent of the United Directorate of Cultural Centers of Moscow, which has recently replaced the library authorities and which is now in charge of libraries, clubs, and everything connected with this. As you guessed correctly, the main vector of the vigorous activity of the United Cultural Center is earnings. Yes exactly. Recently, libraries have been sentenced by the Department of Culture to business activities.

If you take statistics, the number of libraries in Russia is reduced by about 1000 per year. It happens that libraries are enlarged, but in the statistics it turns out minus one unit. At the same time, according to various estimates, the number of visitors is approximately 31 to 35 percent of the total number of citizens, that is, every third is enrolled in the library or uses its services. In 2000, there were 51,000 libraries in our country, according to the latest data, about 30,000. Libraries are getting smaller. Books too.

"In the library. Voloshin, in which until recently I was a scientific secretary, a certain Valentina Slyusarchuk, deputy. Director General for Library Work of the new structure - the United Cultural Center of the Central Administrative District of Moscow. It is she who initiates and endorses the write-off of books, - says the academic secretary of the library. Voloshin, Egyptologist Viktor Solkin. - Somehow, after her instructions to write off all books published before 1960, I asked her, a "professional librarian", what to do with a wonderful volume on the arts and crafts of Ancient Egypt, published by the outstanding scientists Pavlov and my teacher Khojash in 1958? Slyusarchuk did not answer: there was nothing to say. Some of the written-off books, a small one, are distributed to residents by subscription on the bibliogorod website, and some are destroyed through the depository.”

We turned to the directorate of the United Cultural Center (UCC) of the Central Administrative District with a request to comment on the situation with the destruction of books in the libraries of the district.

“There is a principle of writing off unclaimed books that have not been taken off the shelves for a long time, these are books published before 1960, and also recognized as dilapidated. Some of the books are involved in the city's "Written Books" project. On this portal, you can register, choose your favorite book and purchase it. All of Moscow is participating in the project. Lists of books to be written off are prepared by library staff. If we are talking about unique books, no one will touch them”, - said Maria Gorbacheva, a representative of the United Cultural Center of the Central Administrative District, to NI.

However, the scientific secretary of the library named after Voloshin Viktor Solkin has a different version of this: “We in Voloshinka have been refusing to write off books for years, for which the deputy. Ms. Slyusarchuk, General Director for Library Work of the new structure - the United Cultural Center of the Central Administrative District of Moscow, has been depriving Sergey Kupriyanov of awards for years, as a responsible person and at the same time as the head of one of the most successful libraries in Russia, which exists despite the actions of pests and is now fighting for survival. I don’t know if Slyusarchuk reads books at home, but I know for sure that as a result of her activities, a huge treasure was destroyed in the libraries of the center of Moscow - books that were bought for decades with state money.

Who gets rich at the expense of libraries?

A natural question arises: why write off books at all, sell them, recognize them as unnecessary? After all, they are somehow in demand by a certain part of readers, including the older generation, people who do not own gadgets, specialists in some field, and finally bibliophiles? In addition, any books are part of the history of our time. By destroying them, we destroy part of our history. But it turned out that behind all this there is quite a commercial connotation. By sentencing books to write-off, libraries must make room for rent.

“For some time now we have been told that we must earn. There are only 116 organizations in the United Cultural Center of the West Administrative District, these are clubs, libraries, and we are all obliged to earn money. For our children's library, this is quite difficult, because we have walk-through rooms. Here we rent part of the premises, and as a result, librarians cannot leave the premises for 4 hours and even go to the toilet. Alas, we can only make money by renting out part of the premises. Now, before the New Year, we have 6 Christmas trees, of which only 2 are municipal, that is, free. We also rent out premises for classes, for additional education. At the same time, we often do not have the opportunity to do our direct duties. We now receive books from strictly defined publishing houses, approvals are made in 3 instances, and most often we get an answer that there are no books we need”, - says the director of the children's library. Zabelina Lidia Zhuchkova.

Where does the earned money go?

“The proceeds from the libraries go to the development of libraries and to bonuses for employees”, - Maria Gorbacheva, a representative of the United Cultural Center of the Central Administrative District, told NI.

But there are other opinions among librarians. So, according to the staff of the libraries, now structural subdivisions of the United Cultural Centers, all the funds earned are transferred through, that is, they go straight into the pockets of the mayor's office officials. And from there, the libraries are “unfastened” from the master’s shoulder either for a prize or for repairs. “Means listed on are not returned to the library. Extra-budgetary funds remain in the library by 30%, and 70% are returned to the general office of the United Cultural Center of the district”, - explains the academic secretary of the library named Voloshin Victor Solkin.

Instead of books - dances

Yes, paper books are not as in demand nowadays as they were 30 years ago, when there were no gadgets. The vacuum that has now formed was filled by the “optimization” that has become fashionable, which stepped into the space of libraries. The fact is that libraries produce something that you cannot touch with your hands: this is the ability to think and absorb knowledge and information. But most current officials do not understand this. But the room where the library is located is of considerable value in the eyes of cultural businessmen. As well as the land on which the library is located. And now in the head of a local official, not spoiled by Kafka and Humingway, the thought arises: grab it. To give this process a decent appearance, a scheme arises, which this official calls "optimization." As a result, the library as such is gradually being destroyed. This happened, for example, with the library - the cultural center named after Tvardovsky - one of the oldest libraries in Moscow. She was simply evicted from the premises that had once been built specifically for her. But then, during the years of privatization, it became the property of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Izvestiya Publishing House. The reason for the eviction, in the official's opinion, is ironclad: the crisis, the need, on the one hand, to raise funds by any means, and on the other, to save in every possible way.

The same fate befell the library. Voloshin. The fact is that the library management used its space not for commercial, but for cultural and educational purposes. Here are just a few projects and exhibitions that have been held there recently: "The Treasure of the Silk Road - the treasures of the countries of Asia Minor in the 19th-20th centuries", "The Radiance of Eternity" - a photo project for the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutunkhamun, "To the sacred banks of the Nile" - documents and an object, "Invincible Palmyra" - the heritage of Syria through the eyes of photographers, "Breath of the Bosphorus" - an exhibition of painting, "Following the brush": Japanese literature in images of art. This library has become a kind of center of the art of the peoples of the East. This intellectual space was organized in Moscow by a world-famous Egyptologist Viktor Solkin. But it turned out to be more necessary for Moscow officials to organize dance and modeling circles in this place.

“A library is first and foremost a library. Without detracting from the importance of the Oriental center, this is not primarily a Cairo museum. But what is happening now? We learn that a library employee took out some of the books and other property of the library”, - said Timur Vakhitov, general director of the Moscow State Budgetary Institution.

However, as the scientific secretary of the library named after N.I. Voloshin Victor Solkin, officials did not bother to understand and find out that all collections - books and works of art were taken for temporary storage in the library from private funds and from individuals. They are not aware of the fact that at the personal expense of the scientist and his associates, the library was renovated and equipped with an exhibition space.

In our commercialized time, the library space is really shrinking. But if enterprising people manage to fill it with new meanings, but without commerce, what to do with it? Why is it necessary to fight this without fail, and not work? Why such projects have no right to exist? And is it really impossible to reconcile them with the trends of the times? For example, my friend poetess Greta Chesnovitskaya regularly holds musical and poetry evenings at the Library of Foreign Literature. Yes, there is a symbolic entrance fee, 500 rubles. But people interested in poetry and music come, and as a result, both the library and the organizers of the evenings benefit. Why shouldn't other libraries and cultural officials adopt such an experience? After all, a library, in addition to books, is also an intellectual space that has been created over decades and with which there are certain associations. Change the format and organize dances or cafes in the place where the books used to be, is this normal?