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Bucharest
April 16, 2021
ARTS & LEISURE BOOKS EXHIBITIONS

Books written behind bars by contemporary inmates, exhibited at National Library

The “Books with limited responsibility – books published in detention 2010-2015” exhibition will run at the National Library through March 31. The National Library will present dozens of such books from its collections.

Over 180 authors, 70 publishing houses (from Alba Iulia, Bacau, Brasov, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Constanta, Deva, Galati, Iasi, Petrosani, Ploiesti, Ramnicu Valcea, Sibiu, Timisoara, Targoviste, Targu Jiu) and over 400 books.

“The National Library’s purpose is to collect and communicate all of the Romanian publishing production, from the registering of publication intentions (as National ISSN-ISBN-CIP Centre) to the filling up of the Legal Deposit with the books from each edition and the inclusion of titles (bibliographic descriptions) in the National Bibliography. From the full list of scientific papers published behind bars from 2010 to 2015, a list revealed by the National Penitentiary Administration at the end of 2015, at the Justice Ministry’s request, the National Library currently owns a third of the titles. Nevertheless, only 80 titles are accessible, the rest (some of those published in 2014 and 2015) being currently processed. Because of this reason, the National Library’s Legal Deposit Service sends to the publishing houses notices about the obligation to respect Law no.111/1995 (the obligation to submit copies to a repository),” a press release shows.

“Any intention to publish (and the more so any materialization of that intention) is important from a documentation point of view, the National Library’s goal not being to issue assessments of the content or graphical appearance of the works, but to offer an exhaustive picture of the publishing production at national level. It is an institution that has to collect all that is being published on the country’s territory.”

“A person capable of coming up with inventions and valuable innovations or scientific works of value cannot be suspected of not being aware of the consequences of his/her antisocial actions. The simple continuation of the person’s regular activities in the penitentiary does not guarantee that the person’s antisocial attitude will change for the better,” the initiators of the draft on modifying Law no.254/2013 on the execution of prison sentences argue. They add that they are sceptical in what concerns the Parole Commission’s competence to judge “the value of an invention or scientific paper,” to guarantee “that the said invention or work is not authored by someone from outside the penitentiary and obtained by the inmates in return for money.”

“It is not the National Library’s role to deliberate on the scientific character of these books or, even less so, on the reasonableness of continuing to maintain within the relevant law articles that refer to the reduction of sentences in case community work is carried out (days of work, school training, professional training, writing of scientific papers). On the other hand, the National Library offers the necessary reference framework for a debate on this topic, a “snapshot” from a documentary point of view,” the organizers show.

Thus, whether Law no.254/2013 will continue to produce effects (in the sense of continued publishing of works of this type) or not (through the modification of its content), the books published behind bars in recent years represent a collection in itself, having its own characteristics, its informational baggage that reveals the social, political and cultural context that made them possible, the practices of creating and publishing scientific works in Romania at this moment, the maturity, coherence, correctness and efficiency of validation systems at the level of academic and publishing institutions, the National Library representatives believe.

The exhibition is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission is free of charge.

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