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01 March 2019
Arctic Experiences at the Library

On the last winter day, 28 February, the National Library of the Komi Republic held the traditional Arctic Day with an eventful programme inviting the guests to immerse into northern experiences.


Headliner of the day Aleksandr Piliasov, PhD geography, professor of the Moscow State University and director of the Centre for North and Arctic Economy, gathered a large audience delivering a talk on the topical challenges of northern territories - The Arctic that we Need.

The researcher spoke about the exceptional status of the Russian Arctic and the factors impeding the economic development – a marginal geographic location, inadequacy of the Russian law, and a narrow specialization in raw materials. He stated that the government decision-makers are not ready to rely on the grass-root initiative and smaller exploration activities although this is where a great potential for economic growth can be found.

After his lecture, the exhibition hall opened a photo collection by Nadezhda Kozhevnikova - Letters from the Tundra. The photo artist presented her northern landscapes and told about her expeditions to the Urals. Her Arctic experiences represented in masterful and varied photographs created a perfect background for the day.

For the first time this year, the programme of the Arctic Day included an interregional online quiz. Young people from Saint-Petersburg, Kalinigrad, Chelyabinsk, Syktyvkar, Ezhva, Inta and Ust-Kulom tested their knowledge of the Arctic topics answering thematic questions in geography, history, political science and art. Teams from Syktyvkar, Ezhva and Kaliningrad showed the best results.

Another item on the programme was a presentation of the Encyclopedia and history textbook of the Barents Region. Chief editor of the encyclopedia Professor Mats-Olov Olsson who joined in a video conference, spoke about this large-scale international project uniting a team of 300 authors and culminating in 415 entries and 1,200 pages. The Komi Republic that joined Barents cooperation in 2002 is represented in about 30 entries contributed by some 20 authors. 

Professor Olsson spoke about the project progress and challenges in the course of its implementation. By all standards, this was an unprecedented collaboration of researchers with a mission "to connect the past with the present dynamic development in the region, thereby filling a gap in European history and in the process, hopefully, promoting the world's interest in northern Europe". Professor Olsson also shared his view on the prospects of the Barents cooperation and answered the questions from the audience. 

Professor Liubov Maksimova, Director of the Institue of History and Law at the Syktyvkar State University, told about the network of historians collaborating to produce a transnational history textbook and about her job on the Board of Advisers for the encyclopedia. Her colleague, Professor Viktor Semionov commented on the benefits of  international exchange between the northern universities for research and partnerships.

Tatiana Tiupenko, a member of the Public Council at the Komi Ministry of Natural Resources, made a comprehensive overview of the Komi Republic's integration in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. Talking about the vulnerability of the Arctic nature, she remembered a 1995 oil spill in Ukhta that resulted in catastrophic impacts for the environment, prompting the Barents community to combine efforts in fighting challenges together. She also named global warming, green production, waste management, protected areas, and environmental hot spots as important fields of Barents cooperation. In her opinion, through this international geopolitical partnership, the industrialists of Komi learnt important lessons in efficient environmentally-friendly production. 

The presentation of the encyclopedia was followed by a discussion of such concepts as northern identity, policultural transnational citizenship and multiculturalism.

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A dispute on environmental problems of the Arctic gathered students and teachers of three Syktyvkar colleges: Syktyvkar State University, Komi Republic Academy of Civil Service and Management and Forest Institute. The students presented the topics of their research showing a keen interest in fighting the challenges of the day and looking into the future of the Arctic regional development.

At the end of the day the visitors of the library had a meeting with the journalists who participated in the motor expedition - From the Baltic Sea to the Arctic. The expedition got a lot of exposure in mass media and attracted attention to the problem of domestic inbound tourism. The reporters spoke about their experiences of exploring the local culture and nature through the expedition.

Overall, the Arctic Day covered numerous themes emphasizing the exciting nature and rich resources of this vast region.

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