Stepping into a New Century G. Petkevičaitė-Bitė Library Builds Bridges between the Past and the Future

100th jubilee logo

This year Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library is turning an important page in its history. It is 100 years since it opened its doors to visitors and became the first state library in Panevėžys. One of the oldest cultural institutions in the city greets the honorable date with the slogan “Cherishing the Past. Creating the Future” and invites visitors to observe this anniversary together.

History as a measure of growth

Looking at the magnificent ensemble of the buildings of the current library, it is hard to believe that the newly established library, then called the Panevėžys branch of the Central State Bookstore, started its activities in the apartment of the first head of the library Elžbieta Jodinskaitė. Preparatory work took place here – books were collected and inventoried. After receiving the allowance for renting an apartment from the city and county municipalities, the library was officially opened to visitors on the 1st of  September, 1922. The initial fund of the library consisted of 1,397 books.

“During the 100 years, a lot has happened: the library had 11 directors, 6 times the institution changed its name, 8 times – subordination, several times it moved or modernized the premises, the presidents of the state visited the library, honorable awards were received, etc. Looking back, individual events seem to intertwine into a single chain, leading the library from a small book place in the private apartment to one of the most prominent cultural institutions in Panevėžys region, ”says Greta Kėvelaitienė, Head of the Cultural Heritage Research and Digitization Department at Bitė Library.

Today, the library is proud not only of the largest universal fund in the North-Eastern region of Lithuania, but also of a wide range of activities: from innovations in educational activities to international reading  promoting initiatives or digitization and dissemination of documentary heritage.

“With each big and small work we cherish the past and create the future of the region we live in. The centennial library is an open, inspiring and constantly replenished repository of knowledge and creativity of the Lithuanian nation. It is full of a wide range literature, manuscripts attesting to the lives and achievements of prominent personalities, virtual access to cultural heritage sites and the latest information. Today, with the increasing flow of disinformation and false news, the library is actively strengthening the foundations of the state: it teaches and encourages citizens to use reliable sources of information, develops the vigilance and critical thinking of civil society, ”says Jurgita Bugailiškienė, the library’s director.

Jubilee plans and aspirations for the future

“As we enter the new century of the library, we will not stop making progress. We will continue to create traditions that unite and strengthen the community, gather knowledge and ideas, support initiatives, take care of citizens’ information literacy, and promote creativity. Let the activities implemented by the library contribute to the successful future of each visitor, each of you in the free world, ” wishes J.Bugailiškienė, the head of the library.

The library will observe its 100th anniversary with solid events and innovations. The XXII International Scientific Conference dedicated to the jubilee and a new interactive excursion will help to better understand the historical significance of this date. In honor of the first head of the library Elžbieta Jodinskaitė, a reading room bearing her name will be opened.

In the jubilee year, which coincides with the Lithuanian Youth Year, special attention will be paid to the younger generation. A renovated, modern Department of Cultural Education for Children and Youth will be opened. New educational activities will allow to learn and spend quality time while an interactive reading promoting game will help pupils to discover the benefits of reading. The international storytelling festival SEKAS, 2022 will invite its attendees to tell and listen to stories about family and kinship. Interactive activities and games dedicated to the anniversary will take place throughout the year.