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Opinion / Editorial

Franciscan Library, the hidden treasure of Shkodra

Franciscan Library, the hidden treasure of Shkodra

Human stories dusted with oblivion shake among the pages of old paper in my hands, centuries stationed awaken the desire to navigate timeless, within a world devoted to the life and works of the true constellation of writers across borders. A world of wills and passions that delivered under the gloomy atmosphere of a savage policy, where Albania was the misfortune that was suffering from the sufferings of its people. Welcome to the Franciscan Library, in the hidden treasure of Shkodra! A whole world that unfolds in front of an audience unaware of this source of knowledge, behind which hides the sacrifice of patriots beyond the borders who contributed with wealth that today is located in the center of the city of Shkodra. Like any other mournful historical narrative, the library passed its historical trials, as was the dark communist period, which destroyed and dismantled the library by extorting its books. It took the constant effort of those who love knowledge and contributed to bring it back to its former version, as reflected in the old photographs in which Father 'Gjergj Fishta wrote his works, whose wealth is still accumulated today ; his original works are within this library. And of course we are mentioning the contribution for the re-establishment of this library the albanologist Father Jak Marlekaj, the historian Father Paulin Margjokaj and the erudite and the best connoisseur of Fishta Father Daniel Gjeçaj. How many events and how many vicissitudes did these libraries go through to then come to Albania and take their place. In 2008 we should also mention the donation of the archive of the prominent musicologist Ton Zadeja. And in 2017 a special year because the librarian librarian Willy Kamsi is donated to the Franciscan library. These libraries and archives that began to be preserved in exile also formed the basis for today’s library. They certainly got very rich with the contribution of Tonin Zadeja and Willy Kams and others. During these years the fund has been enriched with the purchase of old works and current publications in the field of albanology and balkanology. The library built according to the project of Father Gjergj Fishta, came to life thanks to the contribution of three writers across the border who donated all the collected works for the reconstruction of the Franciscan library, where albanologists can have in their hands the sacrifice and efforts of a constellation that though extinct, their act of giving echoes for generations to come, like an inexhaustible treasure of knowledge. Can you imagine the value that such a wealth of donated books carries ?! Are there any of you who love the book and have even spent to buy a book every week, or every month ?! Are there any of you who, despite economic hardship, have sacrificed material goods just to buy a book? Has he denied himself those few pennies, has he denied food only to feed his soul with a book? Who among you knows these sacrifices that at the first impact of our days seem ridiculously almost illogical, but it is a truth that accompanies scholars who dedicate their lives to learning! When you build a library with sacrifices, denying yourself many other material goods, you turn into a book fanatic, who hurts every page of it, it hurts to miss or donate them. You have heard the famous saying that circulates, "if you give a book you are once a fool, if you return it you are twice a fool". This expression that highlights the unlimited value of knowledge that must be preserved and maintained because every time you browse it you are only a beneficiary. Libraries are built out of a love of knowledge, on the foundations of sacrifice. Someone sacrifices salary, someone sacrifices travel, someone sacrifices clothing and maybe someone else sacrifices life itself. I paid attention to this part that as any librarian who knows the sacrifices, I was amazed by the three research donors whose lives had they dedicated to research and the collection of old written materials with economic sacrifices in the hope that one day when communism would end they would bring their arsenal of knowledge to sleep within the Albanian borders. But, life grabs with its momentum and in the end what remains is the common good that consists of the contribution of the special good, and when one breaks away, there are a bunch of good things around that do not let it go out. This is called a mission! Each of us has a mission of his own that he must understand in time because there really is no time, what is written at the entrance of the library is an old Latin saying: "Hic mortui revivescunt et pandunt oracular muti" - 'Because of the dead they are resurrected and the wicked speak oracles', a beautiful metaphor of personification that the soul may even feel as dead but as long as it takes in the hands of a book comes the regeneration of ideas. This undiscovered treasure of Shkodra holds very old original books up to five centuries ago, or very old parchment. Holds original works of Albanian authors; so all you have to do is seek knowledge not to get rich materially but to get rich spiritually, the more you read the more you will feel free, and there is no freedom at the end of every day paid! You have to keep in mind that knowledge brings us freedom and freedom is gained by finding a form of learning to understand that love and freedom are like the two sides of the coin through which each of us reads that part that the soul calls. On the shelves of this magnificent library, in addition to its beauty, one can read original works of Renaissance authors, then the Frashëri brothers, Father Gjergj Fishta, Dom Ndre Mjedja, Erenest Koliqi, Martin Camaj, Lasgush Poradec and many other personalities. who dedicated their lives to our homeland. Not only these important works, but we can also go to the older times in the historical publications about Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu since 1580, but also in Ptolemy's book on the part that deals with our country dating back to 1561. In the meantime we can to read the original works of Budi, Bogdan, the first Albanian Grammar and other publications very valuable for our country. Touching and breathing to give the original works go back in time, you meet those personalities, they speak to your being transforming it.