30 August 2019 until 1 March 2020
The National Library of Latvia (NLL) Level 1 atrium will feature the NLL’s centenary exhibition Invisible Libraries. It will be dedicated to 14 of the NLL’s historical collections, which comprise the foundation of the Library’s collection.
In celebrating its centenary, the NLL wishes to highlight the parts of its collection that were the dawn of the library. These collections feature multinational stories, other collections, events, people, places and documents that go much further into the past than the establishment of the Library in 1919 and cover the whole of Latvia.
The NLL anniversary exhibition Invisible Libraries will take visitors into reconstructions of public and private libraries, not only by revealing the uniqueness of their historical collections and their winding paths to the National Library, but also by telling about the people who created, used and stored them in specially designed rooms or even buildings. Just as important as looking back into the past, the exhibition will also examine contemporary human relationships with libraries and reading.
The Invisible Libraries exhibition is the result of more extensive research into the NLL’s historical collections, which became possible in 2014 when the library was first brought together in one location, the newly built Gaismas pils (Castle of Light). Books and other documents that have been stored in different repositories and even in separate buildings for a hundred years, and, in this sense, have been invisible as a set of historical libraries, only now could reveal their interrelationships to researchers. Research into these historical NLL collections will continue in the years to come, making more and more new stories visible.
The exhibition will introduce 14 historical libraries that have been partially preserved and whose items are held in NLL repositories. Among them – eight estate/private libraries and six public ones: von Baehr (Pope); Michael Johann von der Borch (Varakļāni); von Ceumern-Lindenstern (Braslava); Harald von Loudon (Lizdēni); von Meyendorff (Mazstraupe); Alexandrine von Medem (Zaļenieki); Leonid von der Pahlen (Iecava); Michael von Lieven (Pelči); the Rīga Historical and Antiquity Research Society; Cēsis Homeland Research Society; Kurzeme Knighthood (Jelgava); Rīga Lyceum; Jelgava High School (Academia Petrina); Vidzeme Knighthood (Rīga).
Since the exhibition’s historical collections have come from different parts of Latvia, cooperation with librarians, museum staff and history enthusiasts in the regions has been particularly important. During the exhibition, these partners, with their own stories, will also be awaiting visitors at their historical libraries, while an Invisible Libraries geocaching game is being prepared for more adventurous travellers. The exhibition will be complemented by a book – Invisible Library: 14 Historical Collections of the National Library of Latvia – by NLL researcher and curator Kristīne Zaļuma, the first publication of the poem The Garden of Senses at Varaklani Palace in Latvian, as well as a series of lectures and programme of creative workshops. Specially designed, interactive tours and practical lessons will make exhibition visits informative and exciting for schoolchildren.