Romanian Symposium Draws Francophones from 18 Countries
Opening session in Romania.
“English is the language of globalization,” said Velizar Sadovski during the opening ceremony of the fifth edition of the international symposium “The Book. Romania. Europe.” Gathered September 23–26 in the Romanian seaside town of Mamaia, francophone librarians from 18 countries delivered 54 papers, primarily in French, which is the traditional second language of Romanians. Sadovski, senior researcher at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, was speaking to the fact that over the five years of the annual conference, papers and presentations delivered in English have increased as English becomes the predominant second language for more young Romanians.
The encroachment of English notwithstanding, the study of Romanian history and librarianship demands fluency in French, and many of the 165 conference attendees were fluent in at least Romanian, French, and English. Chief among them was Hermina Anghelescu, library science professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, who is a native of Romania and organizer of the US contingent. Her presentation consisted of a statistical overview of Romanian libraries since 2000, with some alarming numbers from Romania's Statistical Yearbook, 2011. "Romania's use of public libraries of 10% places the country on one of the lowest spots in Eastern Europe," she observed.
Sponsored by the Metropolitan Library of Bucharest, the symposium shines an international spotlight on Romanian libraries, and a number of the sessions focused on their pressing need to provide programs and services that are essential to the communities they serve. Other sessions concerned more esoteric topics such as “defining the early Greek presence in the Romanian lands” and “cultural transfer in the late Ottoman Balkans.” Discussion often centered on how the profession in Europe needs to adopt public-awareness techniques and service standards that will increase popular support for libraries.
The symposium ended with the librarians—many with maps in hand—exploring by boat the Danube Delta on the Black Sea, an area of Romania that is being restored as a natural habitat for native flora and fauna.