5 October 2022

Prof. Irena Veisaitė’s Personal Library Gifted to the National Library of Lithuania

On October 5, the professor’s daughter, Alina Slavinsky, has kindly gifted the personal library of Professor Irena Veisaitė (1928-2020), a literary critic, theater scholar, and public figure, to the National Library of Lithuania.

Prof. Veisaitė revealed the place of the book in her life in the book Irena Veisaitė: gyvenimas turėtų būti skaidrus (Irena Veisaitė. Life Should Be Transparent; Vilnius: Aukso žuvys, 2017). She said, “if you were to cast a glance at my library today, you would see the various periods of my life, the various interests reflected in it.” Professor’s rich personal library, accumulated over decades, reflects her broad interests and intellectual life, her exceptional aesthetic taste, and the wide-raging activities in social, academic and cultural field.

Prof. Veisaitė’s personal library contains books in Lithuanian, English, German and other languages. Many of them are autographed—by Lithuanian and foreign personalities of culture, science and politics, as well as by her associates and colleagues and former students. The multilingual collection of books on theatre is particularly impressive. It includes publications by playwrights, directors, actors and theatre critics. The Veisaitė’s library has a large selection of poetry and prose, both classic and the most recent works of literature.

Alina Slavinsky talking about her mother’s passion for books said, “My mother was always in a hurry to get home from her trips. I think books were the real attraction.”

Prof. Veisaitė was a prominent Lithuanian public figure and intellectual. She published numerous articles in the Lithuanian and foreign press on literary and theatrical phenomena, promoting intercultural dialogue and tolerance. During the country’s revival, Veisaitė actively participated in political discussions and supported the ideas of the Reform Movement of Lithuania. She and other like-minded people initiated the establishment of the Lithuanian branch of the George Soros Foundation— the Open Lithuania Foundation, as well as the Goethe Institute. Professor was involved in developing ideas of culture, education and international exchange; she actively promoted the Thomas Mann Cultural Centre in Nida. The list of awards she received is long; among other, it includes the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize and the Grand Cross of Commander of the Order for Merits to Lithuania.

In 2020, Prof. Veisaitė was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order for Merits to the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest award of the Federal Republic of Germany, at a ceremony held at the National Library.  

The National Library, which will henceforth preserve the integrity of Prof. Veisaitė’s personal library, plans to initiate research and exhibitions, inviting to get to know this eminent cultural figure through her books.