-text and photos by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe;
design: Florin Stancu-

The biggest cultural tragedy in history was
the demolition of the Library of Alexandria,
which passed through three phases:
-involuntary and partial in the 1st century BCE
(because of Julius Caesar);
-voluntary and partial in the 4th century
(because of the Patriarch Theophilus);
-voluntary and total in the 7th century
(because of the Calif Omar).

From then on,
every library has become a praise
to the Library of Alexandria,
culminating with the international effort
made by humanity after over 15 centuries
for creating an extraordinary reply in the same places,
the ultramodern Bibliotheca Alexandrina,
which includes even a planetarium.

Following this sample,
the Romanian authorities inaugurated in April 2012
the new seat of the National Library of Romania
(much bigger than those from the past).
But without any planetarium.


The culture of a nation depends on
the civilization of libraries.

For a man of culture living in Bucharest
it is pleasant that in this city
there is the Museum of Romanian Literature…

… there is also the Library of Romanian Academy…

… and especially there is the Metropolitan Library
(with over 30 branches)…

But the most respected library is
the Central University Library,
a superb initiative from the 1890s of King Carol I,
who bought the terrain for it
and personally involved in its programs.

In a way,
this library had a similar destiny
with the Library of Alexandria.

during the 1989 Anticommunist Revolution,
some criminal minds had the delirious idea
to set fire to it.
After that a magnificent international effort followed,
led by the UNESCO,
for the reconstitution, renovation and rebirth
of this cultural jewel,
which was opened again for the public at large in 2010.

Looking at the statue of its founder,
I remarked another exemplary aspect:
King Carol I, the creator of modern Romania,
is flanked by the names of
the creators of modern Romanian poetry,
Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890) on the right
and Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) on the left,
and these names, in their turn,
are flanked by stellar symbols.

Living in a world without light pollution and planetariums,
but with a clean sky above,
these great poets loved the Cosmos very much:
Alecsandri won the Latinity Prize for a poem
in which he compares the Latin Race
with a star pouring out light,
while Eminescu’s astronomical poem “Luceafarul”
(translated as The Evening Star, or Lucifer, or Hyperion)
was included in the Book of Records
for the longest love poem of the world.

For them,
the love for Romania had cosmic dimensions.
Thus, in the National Royal Anthem,
Alecsandri wrote:

“Long live the motherland
As long as the heavenly Sun!
A merry, earthly paradise
With a great, lofty name.”

And in a poem of youth,
Eminescu wrote:

“What I wish you, sweet Romania,
Young bride, fond mother!
Your sons to live only in brotherhood
Like the stars of the night, like the dawn of the day.”


Returning to the National Library of Romania,
today it includes about 13 million volumes
and more modern facilities,
becoming both a certitude and a hope
for the destiny of Romanian nation.


It would be extraordinary for every library
to have a planetarium,
but this is neither possible nor necessary.

Essentially, any library is a planetarium
in which heavenly bodies
are replaced by ideas
in literature, arts and science.

a visit to the National Library of Romania
or to any kind of library
means the contact with an entire Universe
that makes much easier
the road to the heavens.

I’ve composed a “tipuritura”
(the shortest Romanian poetic form),
in which the conclusion is replaced by a question:

Libraries are good and kind.
Do you have one in your mind?


© 2012 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)