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Restored libraries in Shusha to turn into centre for intellectual engagement

24 January 2024 [16:18] - TODAY.AZ
Laman Ismayilova

Libraries play a major role in preserving knowledge, fostering education, and promoting cultural heritage.

For centuries, Shusha city has been known as the cultural centre for Azerbaijani people.

With diverse collections, the libraries in Shusha stood as pillars of knowledge, preserving the city's cultural heritage and promoting intellectual growth.

The first library-reading room in Garabagh was established in Shusha. In 1896, the French language teacher of Shusha Realni School, Ahmet Bey Aghaoglu, opened a new library for the people of Shusha under the name of a Muslim reading room in Shusha. Some sources also state that the reading room has been operating for three years and the book fund has reached 500 copies.

At that time, the expansion of the school network in Shusha increased the demand for textbooks, which, in turn, necessitated book printing. Mir-Mohsun Navvab, who was one of the prominent personalities and progressive intellectuals of his time, established a printing house that printed books using the lithography method in early 1884.

As book printing expanded, there was a need for a place where they could be collected and used. Mir-Mohsun Navvab, who understood the importance of learning science, books, and reading, opened the next library and reading room in the courtyard of Govhar Agha Mosque in 1903.

Some sources even mentioned the information about the work of his son, Mirish Agha, in this library. The books printed in the Navvab's printing house were kept in Shusha libraries and presented to a wide readership.

Scholars of the time gathered in those libraries and held discussions about science, education, and literature. Thus, a scientific, cultural, and literary environment was formed in Shusha.

The libraries in Shusha housed an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, and historical documents that reflect the diverse heritage of Azerbaijan.

As a result of Armenian vandalism, hundreds of cultural institutions, including 927 libraries with 4.6 million books and other institutions, were completely destroyed.

After the restoration of its territorial integrity in 2020, Azerbaijan started the restoration works in the liberated territories.

The Culture Ministry launched a campaign, "Let's go with a book to Garabagh," in partnership with the Azerbaijani National Library to restore libraries in Garabagh.

The project aims at restoring the book funds of more than 900 libraries in the liberated territories.

Since 2020, a large number of books have been donated to the Garabagh Book Fund by a number of international organisations working in the field of culture, Turkic-speaking countries, famous foreign and local authors, publishers, and print houses.

The Turkish Professional Union of the Authors of Scientific and Literary Works (ILESAM) donated 10,000 books to the fund of libraries to be restored in Garabagh.

Around 500 books were donated by People's Writer Elchin Afandiyev. The Institute of Education also joined the book campaign, presenting some 5,263 copies of 300 books.

The embassy of Kazakhstan handed over books on science, culture, and history, as well as anthologies of Kazakh prose and poetry.

Around 93,212 books have been collected within the project "Let's go with a book to Garabagh".

In the near future, libraries in Azerbaijan's liberated territories will be restored, serving as community centres for intellectual engagement and lifelong learning.

As Shusha continues to flourish, its libraries will undoubtedly play a major role in shaping the intellectual landscape and preserving Azerbaijan's rich cultural legacy.


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