What can be found on shelves of school libraries?
Shakespeare in Cyrillic
Appearance of Shakespeare in Cyrillic was interpreted by the Ministry for Education as a rarity because of which there is no need to get hysteric, since books from the required reading list lent by school libraries must be in the Croat language and in the Latin alphabet
by Anita BELAK-KRILE, Karmen BAN, Tanja SIMUNDIC-BENDIC, Andelka KELAVA and Bozena SVILICIC
Slobodna Dalmacija, Split, Croatia, October 14 1999
Shakespeare in the Cyrillic alphabet and in a school library: unbelievable, impossible! The department head for primary schooling in the Ministry for Education, Lautaro Galinovic, at first commented the claim of our reader with surprise. "The Ministry for Education invested between 1995 and 1998 23,832,000 Kunas for the purchase of books from the required reading list by school libraries. If children were given books in the Cyrillic alphabet, that is a mistake by the librarian, since the Ministry has clearly instructed that the books from the required reading list lent by libraries must be in the Croat language and the Latin alphabet," says Galinovic and adds that it is normal that libraries keep books in other languages and other alphabets, but they must not be offered when a pupil asks for a book from the required reading list. He objected to any destruction of books, but also added that the books from the required reading list should be read in the Croat language.
In spite of great efforts, Galinovic warned that it is impossible to cover at all times all requests by pupils so that it is possible that the library offered an older book published by a publisher from Belgrade or Sarajevo. Although he does not want to offer an excuse for that, he is of the opinion that there is no need to get hysterical because of one or two books in ekavian dialect, since this is exceptional and by no means a standard situation.
"It is not true that we have neglected certain libraries in Dalmatia. After Zagreb, which received the most books since it has most schools, Split-Dalmatia county is in the second place. More than 1,500,000 Kunas and 33,000 books have been invested in its book fund. In Dubrovnik-Neretva county, between 1995 and 1998 the Ministry invested 742,000 Kunas and bought 10,149 books. In Sibenik-Knin county we invested 564,000 Kunas and bought 8,000 new books," concluded Galinovic.
High Schoolers in the Most Difficult
Most of school libraries in Dubrovnik have greeted another school year with insufficient number of books from the required reading list to cover the needs of all of their pupils. In the primary school "Ivan Gundulic" in Gruz, as they say, they have only 70 percent of necessary titles. Immediately after the war, the shelves were cleared of all books from the required reading list that were not in the Croat language. However, regardless of the lack of books, there is no chance that a pupil be offered a non-Croat edition. Although at the start of this school year they received a few books from the Ministry of Education, the primary school from Gruz still lacks many titles. The primary school in Mokosice, whose book fund was totally destroyed during the war, is in a much better position than immediately after the war.
The most difficult situation can be found in high schools where many titles are missing, so that pupils have to find their own ways to make ends meet. In the Tourist school in Dubrovnik, the shortage of books from the required reading list is made up by pre-war editions, mostly published in Sarajevo.
Shortages because of Changes
Sibenik city library "Juraj Sizgoric", which includes three departments, scientific, popular and children departments respectively, according to the Revision Rules, wrote off books in the Cyrillic and ekavian in the same manner as damaged books.
"In the popular and children departments those books were not that popular, especially at the children department. Pupils avoided books from the required reading list if they were offered editions in the Cyrillic of ekavian so that it could be said that those books were written off even before the Revision Rules were introduced. As far as the book fund is concerned, at the scientific department we treat those books as all other books in foreign languages, which means that none of them were written off, in spite of the language. It should be emphasized that the users were not limited with respect to the language of the books they wished to borrow in any manner," says director of the City library Milivoj Zenic.
The biggest problem, emphasized the administrator of the city library, is in frequent changes of the required reading list. Thus it frequently happens that they simply do not have some of the obsolete books.
Scientific Material Lacks Translation
Books in ekavian and Serb translation, respectively, are mostly used by students in Zadar, since many scientific books still lack an adequate translation to the Croatian language. This was stated by Davorka Heder, the deputy administrator of the city library in Zadar. This mostly applies to books in philosophy, medicine and popular psychology, published at the time of the former Yugoslavia.
"As far as the books from the required reading list are concerned, the Ministry of Education made an effort to make sure that most of the capital works of world literature be translated to the Croatian language, so that the cases in which pupils have to borrow a book in ekavian translation or the Cyrillic are rare," says Davorka Heder.
The staff of the Zadar city library could not give us a precise figure for the number of books in the Cyrillic or ekavian in their catalogue.
"After the move we put the South Slavic literature aside, as these books are still read," told us the administrator of the Department for Adults, Darko Blazevic," since to a real book lover a good book is always only a good book".
Translated on February 7 2000