July 15, 2021: Meeting with the Director General of the University Library in Bratislava and participation at the opening of the exhibition “The Most Beautiful Books of Slovakia 2020”

     On July 15, 2021, I visited the University Library in Bratislava, where I was received by its Director General, Mrs. Silvia Stasselova.
     Although the name of the library includes the word "university", it is not a library that is part of a university. It is a representative library and information institution, the oldest and largest scientific library in Slovakia. The building of the University Library served for a time as the seat of the Hungarian Parliament. This happened at the time when Bratislava became the capital of Hungarian monarchy. This fact only underlines the importance of the University Library. Among the palaces - aristocratic residences, which are situated in the old town of Bratislava, the historic building of the University Library certainly belongs to the primacy.
     I also spoke to the Director General Stasselova on the Japanese cultural grant, which the University Library received in the past. Thanks to this financial help, a multimedia study room was set up in the library. However, the facilities and equipment of this study room are now obsolete and would need to be refurbished. At the same time, Director Stasselova expressed her interest in cooperating in the field of information technology support, which would improve the services provided by the library.
     I inspected the library and was also allowed to look at documents, files or printed matter with amazing historical value. Among them was a collection of manuscripts inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I could also look at historical books describing the Japanese country, people, history or geography.
     After a tour of the library, me and Director General Stasselova moved to the Ministry of Culture, where we attended the awards ceremony for the winners of the exhibition “The Most Beautiful Books of Slovakia 2020”. The Minister of Culture Natália Milanová was also present at the awards ceremony. In Slovakia, the awarding of the most beautiful printed books, both in terms of content and cover design and illustration, has a tradition of more than 20 years. On this occasion, I expressed my conviction that nowadays, when almost everything is moving into electronic and digital form, it is still true that the wisdom of the human race has accumulated through books printed on paper after it has passed the strict evaluation eye of its publisher. Therefore I perceive this appreciation of the most beautiful books as Slovakia's desire to show respect for this historical background.
     After the awarding of the most beautiful books in Slovakia, we moved to the exhibition hall of the University Library, where I also participated in the opening of the exhibition of nominated and awarded books. The director asked me for a short speech, in which I emphasized how much I appreciated the meaningful appreciation of printed books, which reflects the relationship of Slovaks to books.