|01.01.2002 - 31.12.2008|
Publishing in Romani language dates back to the early 20th century. While the majority of the printed publications in Romani are newspapers and magazines, the number of publishers or NGO's publishing books in Romani has been growing in the recent years. The language of the largest minority group in Europe is increasingly being used today as a written language both in print and in digital communication, thus becoming a center of positive self-identification for the European Roma community. At the same time, the language development as a mean for public communication and expansion of its possibilities is a powerful tool for emancipation of the Roma. Despite the lack of standardization of oral and written Romani, the mutual intelligibility of some varieties allows for the publications to reach bigger audience, beyond the national borders.
Between 2002 and 2007 Romani Publications Project facilitated and fostered these processes by supporting publications in Romani language and by advising Roma cultural and educational organization how to better distribute and promote their publications.
For this period, the Romani Publications Grants Program provided financial and editorial support for 27 print and 4 web publications in Romani language or bilingual, with the involvement of 29 organizations as publishers and benefiting the Roma communities in 12 countries. Thus, the Grants Program generated a critical impact by increasing the quantity and quality of the Romani publications produced annually in Europe. Whereas in some countries (Romania and Serbia) thanks to the local state policies this number is significant, in others (such as Albania and Ukraine) the Next Page-supported projects are among the exceptional examples of Romani language production. In addition, the Grants program set up quality standards with regard to content, writing system, editing, design and distribution of the publications supported, and stimulated the establishment of informal networks among authors, publishers and researchers working on particular publication that remain vital beyond a particular project scope.
The Roma people have lived as a diaspora spread across all over Europe for centuries. Their number is estimated to be at least 6,6 million of which approximately 4,6 million speak a variety of Romani language, which makes Romani a genuinely cross-border European language. Although the environment and conditions under which the Roma live differ from country to country, they are united not only by common cultural roots, but also by a history of social discrimination and racial persecution which peaked during the Holocaust but still persists today. Efforts to overcome poverty and discrimination, and to improve Roma social and political participation, an integral part of the EU mission, cannot succeed without parallel efforts to strengthen Roma positive self-identification and enrich the understanding of European citizens for their Roma neighbours.
Romani Library Platform is based on the belief that positive affirmation of Roma literature and heritage can fight prejudices and enliven intercultural dialogue. It is a pan-European platform that focuses on the selection, translation, publication, distribution, and promotion of significant works of contemporary Romani literature in a multilingual 22-volume book collection. The goal of the project is to introduce Romani literature to the mainstream European publishing scene and reading audience and to promote this literature as an integral part of contemporary European literature.
The Romani Library Project is implemented with the support of the Culture 2000 program of the European Commission and OSI-Budapest. It is developed and realized in cooperation with a pool of advisers involving the most prominent researchers on Roma culture, language, and literature in partnership with the Romani Project at Karl Ferentz University (Austria), Romano Dzaniben (Czech Republic), Resource Center for Roma Communities (Romania), Roma Page (Hungary), and over 20 organizations and publishers.
- A conference on Romani literature with the participation of 12 experts from 6 countries discussing the means of selection and promotion of quality literature by Roma authors;
- Professional network linking authors, translators, scholars, publishers, academic, educational and cultural institutions and Romani media;
- A profound survey on Romani literature in Europe covering over 100 organizations and experts at national and international levels;
- A united bibliography of literature by Roma authors including bibliographic information on more than 1000 literature pieces, 50 to be comprehensively reviewed and 28 classified as titles of literary excellence;
- Selection of 22 volumes to be published as part of the Romani Library series in 5 European languages (including Romani);
- A Romani literature stand and presentation of the project at the International Book Fair in Sibiu, Romania - European Capital of Culture 2007.
In the era of digital access, when the number of internet-based information initiatives is continually increasing, the idea that the treasures of the Romani literary heritage should be digitalized is a natural one. Along with the National Library of Serbia and the European Library consortia Next Page triggered a joint initiative for digital collection of Romani language resources. The goal of the initiative is to overcome territorial borders in distribution of content and information related to publications in Romani and bilingual, and create sustainable means for maintaining them. This includes creation of a joint electronic resource of Romani texts currently developed by members of the European Library (TEL) by digitalizitation of public domain materials and copyrighted publications that would be freely accessed and potentially published on-demand.
The Romani Collection contributes to the equal access to knowledge in the language of the biggest European minority, and promotes multilingualism and world-wide understanding of the diversity of European life and culture. It is targeting Romani users and researchers worldwide who can easily locate, access, and read material from a single source.
- Compiling of joint Romani collection with contributions from the national TEL partners’ collections;
- Digitalizing of materials from the public domain as well as copyright materials;
- Securing access to digital meta-data of Romani language publications available in the TEL libraries;
- Preserving of materials that can not be exposed to handling;
- Opening up the initiative to other organizations and institutions that can contribute to Romani heritage digitalziation – museums, galleries, research institutes, private collections, etc.
- Joint Romani bibliography of over 1000 items available in 18 national libraries was digitalized;
- 100 books in Romani and bi-lingual available on-line in December 2008 are digitalized;
- Long term on-line availability of Roma minority heritage and written culture is secured;
- Cooperation among the national libraries in the field of preserving European Roma heritage is established (these libraries will collaborate with respect to the Romani collection development);
- The Romani literature heritage is integrated in the mainstream European literatures.
Following Next Page’s strategic commitment to promotion of reading and encouraging the process of Roma youth inclusion through creative reading and writing-related practices in Roma communities, Next Page developed the Our Stories Project that brings Roma children and the written world together. The overall goal of the project is to explore diverse approaches in children literature creation and promotion. It promotes the development of sustainable reading habits of young Roma and their active involvement in literacy at all levels by providing access to age- and culture-appropriate materials. Our Stories incorporates developing a flexible model of mentoring schemes on story/plot development for Roma authors. Involvement of Roma children, teenagers, elder representatives of communities, and teachers contribute to the creative atmosphere of implementation.
Our Stories project is developed and managed by Next Page in collaboration with the International Reading Association (IRA), International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and Critical Thinking International. The project is being implemented in 4 countries involving over 12 partners and 40 individuals – authors, illustrators, organizers, reading promotion experts, children books creative advisers, etc.
- Organizing of workshops on how to produce culturally sensitive books for Romani children;
- Implementing of mentoring scheme linking four groups of Romani authors and illustrators with other professionals from the field of multi-cultural books;
- Organizing of workshops and reading performances with children in Romani neighborhoods in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia;
- Publishing of 4 illustrated children books for extra-curricula reading;
- Promoting and distributing of the Our Stories books and practices;
- Professional links and alliances contributing to the creation of multi-cultural literature for Romani youth;
- 2-day international workshop on writing for Roma children from a group of 20 Romani writers and teachers from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia;
- 3 national workshops for writers and children devoted to developing plots of book stories;
- Over 20 plots for stories drafted and discussed, 4 of them will be illustrated, published, and distributed;
- A replicate model for a new approach to the issues of writing/reading for Roma youth that can be merged with government educational programs;
- A pool of Roma writers with skills and knowledge on culturally-relevant writing for Roma teenagers;
- A network of Roma cultural NGO's and international organizations in the field of promoting writing and reading for young people.