The Russian State Library continues digitizing the collection of David Goratsievich Gintsburg, an orientalist, a writer and a social activist. This is the second largest collection of Hebrew literature in the world.
The project three- party meeting was held on July 10 th at the Pashkov House. Among the project participants are the Russian State Library, the National Library of Israel and the PERI Foundation. In the course of digitizing these rare art objects from the Gintsburg Collection get into the electronic library of the Russian State Library and the digital platform “Ktiv” of the National Library of Israel. David Bloomberg, Chairman of the Board, the National Library of Israel, Jacob Fish, Director of Development, the National Library of Israel, Natalia Izosimova, Chairman of the Trustees, PERI Foundation, Dmitriy Tomchuk, Executive Director of PERI Foundation, and Vera Yakovleva, PERI Program Director, took part in the meeting.
The Russian State Library was represented by Vladimir Gnezdilov, Interim Director General, Natalia Samojlenko, Deputy Director General on PR and Exhibition Activities, Evgenia Vishnevskaya, Manuscript Department Deputy Head, Marina Melanjina, Oriental Literature Center Administrator, Alexander Soshnin, Funds Preservation Department Head, Ganifa Gouliev, Information Resources Management
Director, and their other colleagues.
Vladimir Gnezdilov, in his welcoming speech, reminded the audience that over half a year had passed since the meeting in Jerusalem, and collaboration successfully develops; he also expressed confidence that the day of new meeting would be a starting point for implementation of the next project phase. Natalia Samojlenko spoke about the progress of collection digitizing. She noted: “All that we do together immediately becomes the world heritage. Our project must be both professional and public”.
Dmitry Tomchuk spoke about significance of the project: “This is not just the process of digitization as such; this is the process of cultural interchange and the process of building an expert community”.
David Bloomberg said that the project was important not only for the libraries of Israel and Russia, but, on the whole, for intercultural relations between our countries. Mr. Bloomberg is assured that awareness of the project immensity and its influence on the culture will come only in five to ten years.
The audience discussed the format of work group’s interactions and had an opportunity to get acquainted with some jewels in the crown of the Gintsburg Collection. Elena Stepanova, Deputy Head of the Rare Books Research Department, presented incunabula and palaeotypes, Anna Rodionova, Head of the Funds Preservation and Inventory Sector of the Manuscripts Department, presented manuscripts,
Mikhail Melanjin, Oriental Literature Center Administrator, presented printed books.
Meeting participants were greatly impressed by the tour called “Emperor Alexander II. Education with Enlightenment” held at the Ivanovo Exhibition Hall of the Russian State Library. Natalia Samojlenko,
Project Manager, was their guide.
The Gintsburg Collection formed in the second half of the 19th - at the beginning of the 20th century consists of printed books and manuscripts. The collection structure is rather diverse; it includes rare
editions which are not present in other Jewish books collections. It is stored at the Manuscripts Department of the Rare Books Research Department and the Oriental Literature Center of the Russian State Library.
The Gintsburg Collection numbers approximately 8000 books, among them about 1500 books date from the 16th to the 17th centuries. The incunabula were the pride of the Gintsburg Collection. At present there exist 22 pieces, they are kept at the Rare Books Research Department of the Russian State Library. There are two incunabula among them which are not present in other collections: Iosiphon (Mantova, 1475) and comments of Levi ben Gerson to the Book of Job (Ferrara, 1477). One of the first Jewish incunabula is the Book of Shlomo ben Adret “Responsa” (1469). The unique manuscripts are kept at the Manuscripts Department, at the fund 71. The chronological framework of the fund is the 12th-13th centuries; the storage volume is 1980 storage units. The solemn signing of the agreement on the Gintsburg Collection digitization took place in Jerusalem on November 7 th , 2017; the agreement was concluded between the National Library of Israel, the Russian State Library and the PERI Foundation. The Gintsburg Collection has drawn attention to itself throughout the course of its existence. Upon being digitized it would be available for researchers and the broad audience.