Thursday, November 17, 2011

Please support my work at the Crimean Tatar Library

Dear friends,

As you know, for the past two years I have been working as a Peace Corps Volunteer at the Crimean Tatar Library in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine. Many of you have followed my activities on this blog and the blog I write for my library ( Now I am asking you to become a partner in this work by making a donation to support the work of the library.

The Gasprinsky Crimean Tatar Library was founded twenty years ago when the Crimean Tatar people began to return to their homeland of Crimea from which they were forcibly deported fifty years earlier. Living in exile in distant Soviet republics, the Crimean Tatars were forbidden to teach their language or practice the traditions of their culture. As a result, by the time people were allowed to come back to Crimea and reestablish their community, much of the culture was lost and the language had become endangered. The Gasprinsky Library was founded to preserve, protect, and revitalize the Crimean Tatar culture and language; to be, as my counterpart so eloquently puts it, “the keeper of the memory of the Crimean Tatar people.”

Over the last twenty years, the library has become the central repository of documents by and about the Crimean Tatar people. It now has a collection of over 40,000 documents, including more than 8000 in the Crimean Tatar language. The library has an archival department to which well-known Crimean Tatar political leaders, intellectuals, artists, writers and poets have donated their personal papers. However, as an institution of the Ukrainian government, the library suffers from a severe lack of funds to do anything beyond pay salaries and maintain the building. Many of the documents of the library are in urgent need of preservation, particularly in a digital form that would give them a much wider audience. With this project, we hope to raise $3000 which would allow the library to purchase a small flatbed paper scanner for the numerous archival paper documents—letters, writings, notes, etc—and also to purchase digital scans of some of the library’s microfilms. The Library is particularly interested in purchasing scans of the microfilms of the newspaper Terdzhman, published from 1883 to 1918 by the Muslim educator and reformer Ismail Gasprinsky, whom the library is named after. Perhaps no other document is so vital to understanding the culture and history of the Crimean Tatar people than Ismail Gasprinsky’s newspaper, but currently access to it is limited to a very few people.

The Crimean Tatars are a unique Muslim people with a tragic history. The Gasprinsky Library, the de facto cultural center of the Crimean Tatar people, has struggled hard to preserve the language and culture of their people. By making a donation to this project, you can aid in that struggle and also support the work I have been doing these past two years. Through the Partnership Program of the Peace Corps, you are able to make a tax-exempt donation by clicking on the link to the right under Links, which will take you directly to my project.

Thank you so much for all the many ways so many of you have supported my work and life these past two years. And I hope you are able to continue your support by making a small donation to this project. Thank you again.

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