CENL Event

2nd March 2023

The National Library of Latvia (NLL) calls for applications for the international conference Publishing and the Nation to be held at the NLL on 7–8 December 2023.

International conference
Publishing and the Nation 
Conference dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the publisher Ansis Gulbis

7–8 December 2023
National Library of Latvia, Riga

The conference dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the prominent Latvian publisher Ansis Gulbis (1873–1936) is one of the central activities  among the series of national events 500 Years of Latvian Books for 2023. It will provide an opportunity to discuss book publishing as a cornerstone of a nation’s culture, focusing in particular on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the establishment of professional book publishing in the nations of the Baltic Sea Region first began.

The aim of the conference is to explore the synergy of cultural influences. What trends in Europe influenced the professionalisation of book publishing in the new nations? How can one person’s initiative influence the development of an entire industry? How did the growth of the industry influence the development of original literature and language? How does a purposeful publishing of translations contribute to inclusion in a common European cultural space? To understand these questions, an interdisciplinary conversation is essential, bringing together perspectives from book publishing, literary theory, cultural history, and other fields.

The establishment of a professional book publishing industry in Latvia is linked to the inspiring story of Ansis Gulbis – one of the most important and prominent figures in the history of Latvian book publishing. His publishing house was one of the longest-lasting and most productive book publishing companies in Latvia (around 2000 titles in total) in the first half of the 20th century. Ansis Gulbis’ activities significantly contributed to the development of national book publishing and literature, introducing Latvian readers to the classics of world literature evidenced by the Universal Library (Universālā bibliotēka) series of books (1911–1927) created by Ansis Gulbis and the significant Latvian writer, politician, and cultural worker Rainis. As the founder of theoretical ideas in the field, Ansis Gulbis promoted a sense of professionalism and solidarity among publishers. By publishing a series of books of translated original Latvian literature called Lettische Literatur (Latvian literature) (1921–1922), Ansis Gulbis also promoted the international recognition of Latvian authors. His most representative work is the Latvian Encyclopaedic Dictionary (Latviešu konversācijas vārdnīca) (21 vols., 1927–1940), a unique reference publication organised on a cross-national level. The most significant aspect of Ansis Gulbis’ activity is connected with the leap of Latvian culture in the late 19th century and the early 20th century – it was largely thanks to Gulbis that Latvian publishing was able to stand fully alongside the book publishing culture of other European nations.

The scientific conference will be part of the broader anniversary programme for Ansis Gulbis, which pursuant to the theme for 2023 – Dissemination of Texts Past and Present (Publishers)  – of the 500 Years of Latvian Books series will highlight the influences of historical processes on current ones.

We invite scientific papers to be submitted on these and other topics related to the book publishing industry in the late 19th early 20th centuries:

  • Synergy between state cultural policy and private initiative in book publishing;
  • The role of the book in the history of ideas and in cultural processes at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries;
  • The influence of publishers on the development processes of literature and art;
  • The role of book publishing and literature in national emancipation;
  • Patronage in the field of book publishing and literature;
  • Popularisation of national literature through translation;
  • The impact of translated literature on national book publishing;
  • The influence of encyclopaedic publications on the popularisation of science and the development of terminology;
  • The communication circuit of book publishing: the interaction processes between a publisher, printer, author, distributor, reader, etc.

Conference languages: Latvian and English. Participation is free of charge. Paper proposals must be submitted by 31 March 2023, paired with an abstract of 1000–3000 characters.

After the conference, it is planned to prepare a collection in which articles based on the papers will be published.

Please send the abstracts of the proposed papers, information regarding academic position/degree, represented institution and main achievements, as well as questions to: martins.mintaurs@lnb.lv with the subject “Application for the conference Publishing and the Nation”.

Confirmation of the inclusion of the paper in the conference agenda will be sent electronically by 17 April 2023.

Further information on the conference programme and speakers will be published and updated at:


The conference is held within the framework of the programme 500 Years of Latvian Books with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia.