COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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FYR of Macedonia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

After the privatisation of the state-owned publishing houses (12) in 1995, the period of transition saw the appearance of many new publishers. The number of entities registered for publishing activities reached 250-300. The financial resources that were allocated for publishing increased, both in the official language and in the languages of the minorities: Albanian, Turkish, Vlach etc.

Government support is accomplished through the traditional forms of annual open competitions for financing of publishing projects. The Ministry of Culture continually allocates financial resources for the stimulation of literary creative work. These resources are intended to support authors (paying author's fee, literary awards) and publishers (preparation and printing expenses).

In 2008, the Ministry of Culture supported publishing of approximately 330 books, compared with 251 in 2005. It also supported the publishing of 321 publications, 42 magazines and 22 projects in electronic publishing. At the same time 12 310 publications were redeemed for libraries. In February 2008 the government announced the financing of the capital project "Macedonian literature through the centuries", with 130 volumes, that will cost 24 million MKD (400 000 EUR). The project was completed at the beginning of 2009, with 131 volumes and 32 000 pages.

In 2010 the Ministry of Culture finished the capital translation project "100 Nobel prize winners in the Macedonian language", which cost approximately 500 000 EUR. On the other hand, another big joint (government and Ministry of Culture) literature project called "The stars of world literature" has failed. As it was explained by the Ministry of Culture, there was no reasonable / acceptable offer to the public announcement. However, experts say that this project was prepared in haste, with no professional input etc.

In 2011 the Ministry of culture finished the project "130 volumes of Macedonian literature in the English language". The project covers the development of Macedonian literature in the past thousand years, starting from the old Slav text from St. Clement and St. Naum to contemporary writers. 

On the other hand, in the era of digital globalisation, only a few publishers offer e-books, mostly for free. They say that they face certain technical problems in this field (software protection, special devices for electronic reading etc.), as well as the small demand for these kinds of books. 

Table 10: Published books and brochures, by language and circulation, 2013-2014

 

2013

2014

Total

864 (724 000)

924
706 000)

Macedonian

689
(571 000)

811
(650 000)

Albanian

77
(100 000)

27
(15 000)

Turkish

7
(6 000)

3
(3 000)

English

13
(5 000)

14
(5 000)

In several languages

75
(41 000)

63
(30 000)

Other languages

3
(1 000)

6
(4 000)

Source:    State Statistical Office, Publishing activity, 2014.

Until 1992, the municipalities (the local government) acted as founders of the public libraries (32). The government established the National Library as a public institution in 1945 and financed it completely. In the period of transition all public libraries were completely financed from the Budget of the Ministry of Culture. The total number of holdings in public libraries amounts to 4 707 000 monographs and 1 500 000 volumes of serial publications as library units (not titles). This indicates that there are 2.3 books per inhabitant, which is below the minimum standard. That has led to an extremely small number of readers, which amounts to about 60 000. The size of the libraries comprises a total of 30 135qm functional space, which is also below the European average.

In 2013, compared with 2010, the number of libraries within tertiary institutions increased by 16.1%.

The number of libraries in 2013, compared with 2010, remained at the same level.

Table 11:  Basic data on libraries by type, 2013

 

National

Tertiary educational institutions

Specialised

Other non-specialised

Libraries - national institutions

Public libraries

Number of libraries

1

65

46

1

10

51

Capacity of seats

407

2 245

219

34

211

828

Books
(number of copies)

1 114 272

816 236

361 322

55 552

1 202 098

1 975 342

Source:    State Statistic Office: News Release No. 2.1.14.29.

Table 12:  Libraries, number and members in 2007, 2010 and 2013

Libraries

2007

2010

2013

Libraries – number*

72

62

62

Members

74 000

62 000

102 375

Source:    State Statistics Office: News Release No. 2.1.14.29.
*              Only national and public libraries.

In order to successfully cover the city area, the Skopje City Library "Miladinovci Brothers" still uses the "library-bus" - a specialised van that brings books to most distant villages in the area. This "library-bus" now has 1 500 registered users (mostly children) who pay a symbolic membership fee of 50 MKD (0.90 cents) per year.  

In 2008, the Ministry of Culture announced a new measure to improve the book funds for libraries: every publisher is obliged to give (without any compensation) to the National and University Library 110 copies of the books that were supported by the Ministry of Culture. Most of the publishers were surprised by this measure, saying that it will decrease the financial help that they get from the state. It is estimated that this new measure will provide around 30 000 new books per year for the libraries.

In 2009, a new wing, measuring 15 000 sqm, was opened at the National and University Library at a cost of 86 million MKD (1.5 million EUR).

As a result of good co-operation between the Macedonian National Library in Skopje and the "Yunuz Emre" Institute from Ankara (Turkey) in the project "Reconstruction of the Balkan cultural heritage", 3 544 manuscripts and 1 000 fragmented pages (in total of 900 000 pages) in Arabic, Turkish and Persian language were digitalised in 2013. In the second phase of the project an electronic and a printed catalogue will be published.


Chapter published: 06-10-2015

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