| Diwan special issue |

 

Esed Karić

Born in 1960 in Donja Orahovica (B&H), lives in Gradačac (B&H).

GRADAČAC HOUSE OF THE BOOK

Gradačac has been called Nenavište since the ancient times. And the tradition of preservation of the written word in Gradačac dates back to the 16th century. The first written traces in the form of cadastre registers of the Ottoman reign are from that time.

The first medresa1 was erected in the Gradačac suburb of Svirac between 1795 and 1812 by the great Bosnian vakif Osman-kapetan Gradaščević. Apart from a mosque, the medresa contained a library of scholarly and didactic literature. However, according to the Islamic Epigraphic (vol. II) by Mehmed Mujezinović, the first library in Gradačac was built by Sejid Fadič-paša Šerifović in 1839, and proof of the founder and year of foundation is inscribed on the plate above the entrance to the library. This small library was situated in the yard of the largest mosque in Gradačac, the Husejnija, built by the famous Huseinkapetan Gradačšević in 1826.

After the Second World War, or more precisely in 1946, a National Library was founded in Gradačac with a modest collection of books. This Library developed over the years, increasing both the number of books and the number of readers. The facilities of the Library were not sufficient for the needs of the citizens until 1975, after the Midterm Plan of Library Development in Bosnia-Herzegovina was adopted and procured an increase in material means for the operating of the Library, which improved both the book collection, the staff and the building facilities.

Immediately after the war for independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-1995), and in accordance with the Law on Library Activities from 1996, the Public Library in Gradačac was founded. Due to the neglect that transpired during the war years, the once rich collection of some 35,000 books was practically halved. It is worth mentioning that, in accordance with the provisions of the new Law, the Gradačac Library separated from its parent body, the Centre for Information and Culture, and thus became independent. This is a solitary example in the Canton and probably also in the entire Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the middle of 1997, the newly-founded Library was formally opened by the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Prof. Dr. Fahrudin Rizvanbegović. After the completion of the assessment of the collection, 15,224 units were found to have been preserved. Of those, 348 were rare editions and there was a multitude of uncatalogued, but valuable periodicals ranging from ”Bosanska vila” from 1891 to current periodicals and literary magazines.

Today, the Library has three departments: one for children and the youth, one for adults and a department of technical literature. A heritage collection was founded and, for lovers of the book, a readers' club was established. Apart from that, thanks to various donations in the period from November 1996 until December 2002, 15,500 new books have been acquired (which brought the collection to its pre-war level of some 35,000 editions), as well as additional equipment and furniture. The following organisations are particularly responsible for the functioning of the Library: USAID-OTI, LORA, the Bosniak Institute in Zurich and the National Library in Sarajevo. It is also important to point out the response of numerous citizens of Gradačac in the action of donating books. The project of cataloguing and the creation of an authors' catalogue was successfully completed in 1997 and it ensures greater efficiency in the operation of this institution.

Since the first issue of the magazine Diwan in 1998 and with the co-organisation of the Gradačac Literary Meetings, the Library has procured recognisable cultural references not only in the Gradačac Municipality, but also beyond the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the period until 2002, after 5 volumes and 8 issues of Diwan, its editorial was formed consisting of eminent professors and writers from the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina: Alija H. Dubočanin, Amir Brka, Vojislav Vasiljević (MA), Šimo Ešić, Aleksandra Čvorović, Nedžad Ibrahimović (PhD), Željko Grahovac, Mirsa Šarić, Dragan Šimović and (the editor) Dinko Delić. And Diwan was restructured into a magazine for culture where over 100 authors from ten countries of Southeast and Central Europe have published their works.

In that time, this house of the book was visited by over 10,000 readers, and at various literary promotions and at the Gradačac Meetings almost all the significant Bosnian writers have presented their works at the Library. For the realisation of the Mobile Library Project (donation of the Soros Open Society Fund) the Gradačac Municipal Board presented the Library with its highest award, the Golden Coat of Arms of the town.

In 1999, the Library adopted the name Alija Isaković, after one of the most famous Bosniak and Bosnian-Herzegovinian writers and founder of Bosnian Studies.

Another thing that is also worth mentioning is the signed agreement from November 2002 with the Questa.Soft organisation from Germany for the online distribution of literary texts from Diwan through a digital database in Frankfurt (CEEOL – Central and Eastern European Online Library). This project will contribute to the efforts of the publisher and editorial board of Diwan to have this magazine intensively involved in the inter-cultural exchange of Southeast and Central Europe.

Translated by Ulvija Tanović

 

 

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