President Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends.
I want to give a cordial welcome to both the organizers and the participants of the Festival of school libraries.
This is a very good opportunity to examine the state of libraries in the country as a whole. Not just school libraries, but the country’s libraries in general. Although school libraries occupy a special place among them, of course.
We always proudly call ourselves one of the most well-read countries in the world, and with good reason. And one of the reasons for this is that a very large network of libraries was created in the country. Indeed, in quite remote regions of our enormous country, it was usually not difficult to find not just the classics, but also the works of the most well-known and popular Russian and foreign authors
In recent years, you have faced many difficulties. We know that financing was insufficient, to put it mildly. And thanks to a great degree to your efforts, we have been able if not to develop funds significantly, then at least to preserve them. This is a major achievement, and I thank you very much for it.
But I must say that in the modern world, it is not just problems with financing that cause particular attention and concern. There are also other difficulties. They are connected with the growing competition of books with the media – television, cinema and computers. I think that firstly they should not oppose each other. And secondly, a book is not just a source of knowledge. Reading a book is also a special state of mind. And a book, if it is given competently, by a talented person – and today competition winners have gathered in this hall – in this case, a book becomes not just a source of knowledge, it becomes a source to educate the culture of a person, the personality. It becomes a source to pass on the genetic memory of a people from generation to generation.
I would like to thank you for your selfless work, and hope that we all together, guided by the understanding of the importance of the cause that you serve, will develop libraries.
And I would also like thank all the guests who are with us together today. In many countries around the world, including high technology countries, more and more attention is devoted to libraries. And the fact that today, the wife of the U.S. President, Mrs. Laura Bush, is among us – she devotes special attention to the development of libraries in the United States, is personally involved with these programmes – is further proof of this.
I would like to welcome her, and also welcome the wives of the Presidents of Bulgaria and Armenia.
And I want to wish you all success.
Thank you very much.