ON THE SAME INTELLECTUAL WAVELENGTH
Books have been highly valued by Turkmens from time immemorial. Fellow villagers respected rare owners of books, as they were considered highly educated people, and even turned to them for advice. After all, the book has always been considered a storehouse of folk wisdom, a story about life of the mysterious, unknown world. Fans of reading would often give most of their property for a new handwritten book copy to enjoy the filigree, artistic word of poets and philosophers.
The book is a great creation of human genius. The invention of the printing press was a turning point in the history of world civilization. Over the past six centuries, printed products have taken such a significant place in the spiritual life of people that they cannot be compared with any electronic publication in terms of impact, no matter how convenient it is in use. Despite easy access to information of interest to us through Internet portals, we keep our favorite books, often turn to them for wise advice or simply flip from time to time through yellowed pages with illustrations that we have loved since childhood.
In early November last year, the capital of Turkmenistan hosted the traditional XIII International Exhibition "Book - the Way to Cooperation and Progress" that served as an intellectual platform for a great number of like-minded people and representatives of publishing houses from different countries who met with their colleagues and got acquainted with the latest printing technologies, thus opening up new horizons for creativity. The regularity of the forum speaks of the relevance of the continued development of printing and publishing that constitute an important field of the economy, while the final products make an integral part of spirituality of society.
The annual book forum aims to demonstrate not only the successes and achievements of the national and world printing industry since it is based on the broad international cooperation in the field of book publishing and printing. Sixteen countries of the world took part in the book forum last year, including Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, USA, Turkey, Ukraine and France. The delegations consisted of prose writers and poets, experienced translators, scientists, artists, journalists, as well as representatives of major publishing houses, scientific and educational institutions in the field of book publishing and printing. Representatives of the CIS countries were traditionally the most active participants.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov demonstrates great wisdom by developing the "written word" and cooperation in this field in the country. It is not by chance that the exhibition is called "Book - the Way to Cooperation and Progress". This is a declaration of the balanced, comprehensive and far-sighted state policy in the field of printing.
Good groundwork, i.e. training of professional personnel, is the chief element for ensuring prosperity of any business. Turkmen boys and girls keep joining the ranks of students at the Moscow Polytechnic University for some two decades now. This university has been set up recently on the basis of two oldest universities - the Moscow State University of Printing Arts named after Ivan Fedorov and the University of Engineering. This educational establishment cooperates closely with Turkmenistan in training of specialists in the field of printing and publishing. Several hundred Turkmen citizens study engineering specialties and book graphics at the leading printing university. Following a well-thought-out strategy, young and highly educated specialists who have graduated from prestigious specialized universities in different countries have joined the staff of the State Publishing Service of Turkmenistan over the past few years.
The State Publishing Service of Turkmenistan, being the flagship of the printing industry in the country, presented a variety of products at the two-day exhibition. However, not only new printed products were demonstrated through the exhibition platform, such as textbooks, works by the classics of national and international literature, newspapers and magazines.
The exhibition also featured products from the manufacturers of advanced printing equipment that is currently used by the Printing House of the State Publishing Service and regional printing houses. This printing agency is playing a leading role in disseminating information, including educational one. The increasing number of printed products and variety of published books and periodicals reflect the scientific and educational priorities of the country's socially oriented policies. That is why it is natural that President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov attaches great importance to developing the printing industry. In addition, the Turkmen book publishers' inspired work makes a very worthy contribution to the development of international cultural relations between the CIS countries.
Visitors always tend to stay longer in the exhibition pavilions displaying magnificent book editions and printed products, because a "living book" is always a priority, and people will never stop loving it. Nonetheless, new technologies form a modern information space, in which real-time information plays a leading role. Digitalization is increasingly becoming part of human life, penetrating into all spheres of our activities. Turkmenistan is currently building new infrastructure that provides for modernization of libraries. A modern library of the 21st century is not just a repository of books. It is a kind of "multipurpose electronic depository" that contains information both on traditional media and electronically. This enables the libraries of the country to present their importance to society, ensure convenience and fast search of information for readers and draw public attention to reading as a phenomenon in preserving cultural heritage. Readers come to the library to satisfy their spiritual needs, as this temple of thought has always been one of the highest symbols of culture.
High-tech examples of printing art, as well as their electronic versions were also presented on the stands of the CIS countries.
Other than popular publications, the central stands of the exhibition demonstrated the works by the leader of the nation, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, including the encyclopedic reference book "Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan", "Independent, Permanently Neutral Turkmenistan", "Turkmen Culture", "Living Legend", "Heavenly Beauty", "Turkmenistan is the Heart of the Great Silk Road" and others that open up to the world modern Turkmenistan, which is rapidly developing in a new historical era. There were also presented the 2019 book novelties such as "Turkmen Alabay", "Horse - a Symbol of Loyalty and Happiness", "Medicinal Plants of Turkmenistan" in three languages and colorful book "Turkmen Tales". These publications were presented during the exhibition. By the way, some of the book novelties such as "Turkmen Alabay" and "Horse - a Symbol of Loyalty and Happiness" have been already released in an electronic format, and they are now easily accessible online to every admirer of Turkmen culture. Computer designers of the State Publishing Service are also working on putting other publications into an electronic format. The forum participants were also invited to the presentation of the State Publishing Service website - metbugat.gov.tm - that was launched last year.
One of the stands of the Ashgabat exhibition displayed samples of printed products of the last century, including periodicals, books, textbooks published in Turkmenistan. Comparing the past and modern printing is even more interesting. A great variety of print media ranging from advertising booklets to beautifully designed photo albums was presented by the publishing houses and trading companies from different countries, including Russian publishers Epoch, Gangut, Absolute, Monorhythm, Art Project and many others. Among the frequent participants of the exhibition was Austrian Heidelberg, the large printing company whose brand is well-known in many countries of the world.
The XIII International Exhibition "Book - the Way to Cooperation and Progress" also served as a platform for holding a scientific conference under the same name that brought together representatives of leading publishing circles, universities, library structures, printing specialists and journalists in the conference hall of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan. During the discussions, the conference participants spoke about cooperation in the field of printing. The discussions covered a wide range of issues related to training of young personnel, establishing close partnerships between relevant organizations, sharing experiences in transmitting digital information.
A busy program of work of the exhibition also included various round-table meetings of poets, writers and journalists, master classes at the art universities of Ashgabat and discussions of current trends in children's literature. A poetry evening took place in the Inspiration Alley in the historical center of Ashgabat. It gathered not only the forum participants. The young generation of Turkmens was the chief audience of the poetry evening. Such good meetings promote interest in reading diverse literature and contribute to an even greater enrichment of the inner world of people and their erudition. And this goal is perhaps one of the main reasons for holding such international intellectual forums.