“American corners” in libraries in Belarus are started to be closed. Earlier they were opened in a dozen of the largest towns and cities.
“American corners” program was a project of mutual cooperation between the US government and public libraries of Belarus, aimed at satisfying informational, cultural and educational needs of the dwellers of different regions. Through this approach it was expected to provide information on the US to the citizens of Belarus. “Corners” had collections of books, video and audio cassettes, CD-ROMs and DVD discs, materials on studying English, publications; they provided access to Internet.
In addition to informational work, different cultural and educational events were staged there: seminars, discussion clubs, films screenings, meetings with native-speakers.
One of these days a request of a Belarusian photographer to open an exhibition in one of regional libraries was denied. The reason for that was named a closure of “American corners” in Belarus. Radio Svaboda was told by representatives of Pushkin library:
“As far as I know, they were closed with the formulation: “to suspend work and activities”. And all of them are temporarily closed”.
What could be the reason for closing “American corners” in Belarusian libraries? Radio Svaboda asked Alyaksei Karol, one of the leaders of the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Hramada):
“It’s a continuation of the diplomatic war by new means, which are available. It’s a war for returning economic preferences to Belneftegaz. And I think that as soon as an order to return everything would be received, which is completely possible (we have already heard Lukashenka’s words that all ties would be restored, and little differences liquidated), it is entirely possible that an order of the Culture Ministry on “American corners” would be different”.
“American corners” were opened in Babrujsk, Brest, Homel, Hrodna, Mahilyou, Malazhechna, Minsk, Pinsk, Polatsk and Vitsebsk. Usually “American corners” were structural subdivisions of public libraries’ departments of foreign literatures.