04.07.2014

Author: Stefan Plesoianu

The history of the public reading at the sea coast - Part 2: The popular libraries

C.P. Demetrescu, the former assistant of the “Ovidiu” literary club, will set the bases of another organization, in 1904: “The Culture” reading club, with him as a president; in the leading council were: I. Moisin (painter, vice-president), I. Papadopol (assistant), N. Jipa (cashier), M. Bunescu (painter, librarian), A. Butnariu, A.N. Pop, St. Simionescu, I.D.Lica, B. Stuparu, A. Olaru, P. Ionescu, P. Palauceanu, N. Teodorescu and H. Banciu – members. They quickly gathered few hundreds volumes for the library, every member of the club bringing al least one book per month. The editing of a magazine, entitled “The culture”, permitted the growth of the library collections by changing publications. After just four years, (“The Culture” club did especially an intense amateur artistic activity and many conferences in Constantza and its surroundings), the club fall apart, with a great disappointment for C.P. Demetrescu who said that it was “so well done yet so jealously kept”.
 
             The public reading will be legislated by “The regulations for the functioning of the popular libraries” from 5 September 1898; by 1904, The Schools an People Culture House set up in Constantza county 20 popular libraries, and in 1904 the county prefect office set up 22 such libraries in the schools spaces.
 
             The economic development of inter war Constantza determined also a revival of the syndicates movement. In 1923, the harbor workers set up he “Ion Creanga” reading house, which will have a prodigious activity with conferences, artistic manifestations, public readings. The money cashed at these activities were used for the library, its collections reaching, in 1926, over 2000 volumes, but in the same year it was dissolved by the labor ministry, after that the publications fund entering in the “Princess Ileana” School’s patrimony (whose library already had 500 volumes).
 
             An interesting initiative was, without a doubt, the inauguration at the 12 October 1925, by the priest Nicolae Paveliu and under the supervision of the mayor of Constantza Virgil Andronescu, of a cultural house with a popular library near the Saint George church. Shortly, the library was visited by a great number of users (clerks and workers), “even by seaside travelers came from all over the country”, as informs the newspaper “The glory of Dobrogea” (1 October 1925). The library’s patrimony reached, in less of one year, 4000 publications, books and magazines, it even had registered its activity: 8985 borrowed publications. The reading took place in a rented room, where the collections were structured functionally for a better access of the public. But, beside “Saint George” Athenaeum, in the city were functional other popular athenaeums: “Central”, “The Dobrogean scene”, “The guidance”, “Dr. G. Angelescu”, “Ovidiu”, the majority of them being hosted by schools.
 
             The society “Astra” from Sibiu, having a local branch in Constantza (“The Dobrogean Astra”), set up in 1927 a library here, with publications sent from Transylvania and also with local donations.
The cultural life of Constantza was animated, in the inter war years, also by an non-governmental institution dedicated to the education of the adults, a very active one: “The popular Academy of Commerce” (later become “The popular academy”, with an enlarged cultural offer), founded in 1924 by the teachers Nicolae Zagoicea and Constantin Muresanu and the lawyer Bucur Constantinescu as a president. It organized evening commercial classes for adults, conferences, artistic manifestations. It published even an annual newsletter and a collection entitled “The library of the popular academy of Constantza”, containing popularization brochures.
 
             An original manifestation and with a serious public echo, organized by the restless teacher and cultural animator C. Muresanu and by the priest C. Popescu, was “The book under the icon”. The programme of the manifestation aimed the generous goal of existing in each house, “under the icon”, a useful books shelf, the start for a little family library. The organizers edited a collection with the same name, after the famous model of “The library for all”, in which were published ten little volumes (one of them being “Poems” by Mihai Eminescu), printed in mass number of copies and spread in the rural areas.
 
             The establishment, in 1920, at the initiative of the writer and lawyer Ioan N. Roman and of the geographer Constantin Bratescu, of “The Dobrogean Cultural Society”, with a programme of editing the magazine “The Annals of Dobrogea”, of celebrating the semi-centennial of the reuniting of Dobrogea with the country (1928), of realizing of an antiquities museum and of other cultural objectives, contributed for sure at the growth of the spiritual life in Constantza.

Bibliography:

  • “The book and the reading at the Pontus Euxinus” – Constantza, Ex Ponto, 2006
  • “The Romanian sea coast at 1900” (C. Cioroiu, M. Moise) – Constantza, Europolis, 1997
  • “Communications and essays of bibliology” – Constantza, 1999

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