President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, dear friends,
Today, as St Petersburg celebrates its City Day holiday, we are here to open the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library.
It is located in the Synod building, a building of particular significance for this city and for the whole country. We watched the film just now and saw for ourselves the results of the work that has been done.
I sincerely congratulate all of the project’s organisers and everyone who worked here to create this new library and restore this building for everyone in St Petersburg, in our country, and for our foreign friends too. I congratulate you all the more so as today’s event coincides not just with St Petersburg’s City Day, but also with Library Day, which is being marked today all around our country.
Books hold an enduring place in humanity’s history. Without books it is not possible to pass on knowledge, cultural traditions, and the histories of countries and peoples. Preserving our values and cultivating respect for our own history and deeper knowledge of our spiritual culture are among the state’s constant objectives. It is for this reason that we are here today.
This library was given the status of national library last October. It will house what I hope will become the fullest collection of documents on the history of the Russian state, Russian society and Russian law. It will cover all different periods, including the modern era.
As we have seen today, the best examples of international experience have served in helping to create this intellectual resource of such great scale and importance, and the library itself is fitted out with state-of-the-art technology. I hope that it will soon become one of the world’s biggest information portals. What makes it so valuable, in my opinion, is that anyone, anywhere in our vast country, or anywhere in the world with internet access, will be able to enter this library and use its resources. This is the most important thing of all. I hope that these plans will be implemented with the greatest technological skill and professionalism.
I just visited the exhibition of rare books and little known archive materials. They were in effect unavailable to the general public. Now we can give a huge number of people access to these rare documents, these objects of bygone eras and past years.
I hope that this will go ahead electronically as well, because digital technology has become the principle means today for storing and transferring knowledge. Furthermore, the library’s branch network will also open up many new opportunities for people in other parts of the country.
It is traditional to give presents at birthdays. This library has received a very valuable gift today – a collection of rare books and maps that reflect our country’s history over the last 500 years. Publications from the time of Peter the Great, including legal works, have been returned to Russia. We saw just now the alphabet that Peter the Great corrected. It is also part of the library’s resources now. And we saw the manuscripts and documents signed by Catherine the Great and Paul I – items of museum value. There are also the publications that came during the lives of many of our great writers, and the works of the most prominent Russian historians.
I think that it is also very significant that the library should receive such a present on the day of its inauguration.
I hope that the library will build up its reserves through additional sources and through its own acquisitions. I know that many of you here today have presented gifts to the library too, and I want to thank you most sincerely for this.
The Presidential Library has also been presented with an identical copy of the Russian Constitution used at the presidential inauguration from my personal library in the Kremlin. It is now in the Constitution room. I think this also has symbolic significance for everyone who will use the library.
Once again, I want to congratulate you all on the opening of Russia’s new national library – the Boris Yeltsin Library, and on the unique collections that have been presented.
I want to congratulate all library workers on their professional holiday and all residents of this wonderful city on City Day. This is an excellent and important event that has taken place.