Piatra Neamt, a city at the foot of Ceahlau Mount and the capital of Neamt County boasts an interesting public library and a rich cultural life and tradition.
This is hardly surprising given that the region used to host the Moldavian Princely Court for centuries and later on, it was the birthplace of writer Ion Creanga. The history and culture of this region are illustrated in the old collection of books and documents on which today’s County Library in Piatra Neamt is founded. This collection was donated by lawyer and scholar Gheorghe Teodorescu-Kirileanu, who had a significant contribution to Romania’s modernisation process in the late 19th and early 20th century.
His efforts were also praised by the Royal House. Invited to coordinate the publication of a series of monographs on royal estates, to mark 40 years since King Carol (1866-1906) I ascended the throne, Kirileanu also received the proposal to work for the Royal House in Bucharest. Consequently, between 1909 and 1930, he served as the librarian of the Royal Palace until he was replaced by Carol II. At this point, Kirileanu also withdrew from Bucharest’s public life and spent the rest of his life in Piatra Neamt, where he died in 1960.
But more on Kirileanu’s contribution to the city’s cultural life from writer Adrian Alui Gheorghe, the director of the G.T.Kirileanu County Library in Piatra Neamţ: “The library was founded by Gheorghe Teodorescu Kirileanu, a prominent scholar and former librarian of the king, who retreated to Piatra Neamt in the wake of the war, bringing over a collection of books, periodicals and extremely rare documents. He donated his collection to the Neamt community in 1955. It is around this collection that the first public library in Piatra Neamt was founded around 1960-1962. Then, in 1972, the first post-war library in Romania was built in Piatra Neamt. It was a modern, large building, which was added a new wing in 1997. Meanwhile, the book collection was enlarged, the number of users has increased over the years and a recent ranking of libraries in Romania based on statistical figures put us on the 4th position in Romania in terms of number of visitors. “
Today, a large part of the G.T.Kirileanu collection can be accessed online. Adrian Alui Gheorghe has further details: “The G.T.Kirileanu collection of books and periodicals initially comprised over 36,000 items. It included rare books, old books and periodicals of great value. Let me give you some examples. We have over 300 titles in our heritage collection, which includes books published before 1830. We also have extremely rare periodicals, such as all the issues of the Timpul newspaper at the time when Mihai Eminescu was a contributor. What we’ve done in recent years, with the help and effort made by our colleagues from the relevant department, was to transpose into digital format many of the periodicals included in the G.T.Kirileanu collection. If you access the website of our library, you can find every single issue of the Timpul newspaper published between 1878 and 1885. We have also transposed on a digital format all publications issued in Neamt County in the inter-war period and even long before. Popular publications like Albina românească and others are also available online. We also started to digitise all newspapers issued in our area after 1948, such as Ceahlaul and Flacara. You can also access online many newspapers issued in 1948 and 1950, which offer you the possibility to find detailed information on the social and political life from those times.”
As was natural, the public library in Piatra Neamt also has a collection of books written or owned by Ion Creanga, whose work was very much appreciated by G.T.Kirileanu, as Adrian Alui Gheorghe has told us: “He managed to recover some of the books that belonged to Ion Creanga and were part of the writer’s personal library. There are books of all types, from textbooks to religious books. It is interesting to note that Creanga made annotations on the books wherever he found an empty space. Some of them are very important, as they provide interesting biographical details. There are also annotations made on the spur of the moment, and even two or three line sketches, which he would later develop into stories. All these annotations are of great value, because they are all in Creanga’s handwriting.”
The digitisation of the collections belonging to the G.T.Kirileanu Library in Piatra Neamt will undoubtedly continue in the following years.