Stable and democratic development in Nordic neighbouring countries is given high priority by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The concept Nordic neighbouring countries has for a number of years included the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, North-West Russia and the Arctic regions.
Cultural mediation paves the way
The overall objectives for the Nordic Council of Ministers’ co-operation with the neighbouring countries involve i.a. contributing to stability, democracy and the development of a set of common values with northern Europe. It is therefore quite natural that cultural mediation is stressed as one of five subject areas which the Council of Ministers want to promote over the next three years of co-operation with the countries in question. A wellfunctioning library service and extensive publication of quality literature are some of the prequisites for developing democracy and stability. Translation (and publication) of Nordic literature into the Baltic languages and Russian – and vice versa – is moreover quite essential for creating this set of common values with northern Europe.
Strong focus on literature and library activities in the neighbouring countries
Nordic Literature and Library Committee (Nordbok) has therefore prepared a plan for a literature and library co-operation with the neighbouring countries over the next three years.
Baltic applications are participating on an equal footing in Nordbok’s pool for literature and library co-operation and receive about 1/4 of the pool for projects like for example joint library conferences, reading of Nordic literature in Baltic libraries and exhibition of Baltic literature in the Nordic libraries. In Nordbok’s opinion this co-operation, working on a small budget, leads to fruitful exchange between the neighbouring countries. 100 libraries and 45 other institutions from the Baltic countries took part in the great Nordic culture manifestation Nordic Library Week – twilight zone. Nordbok contributes substantially to the publication of Baltic literature in the North and Nordic literature in the Baltic countries and North-West Russia. It is done via financial support for translations, translation courses and a newsletter on Baltic literature which is distributed to Nordic publishers and libraries.
Support for competency development
It is also necessary to make serious efforts to raise the level within the Baltic and Russian library service. Nordbok has financed a course for library directors in the neighbouring count ries which has been prepared by Helsinki City Library. The Committee hopes to get the financial means to continue the programme in 2004.
Translated by Vibeke Cranfield