Ceausescu’s Books Also Have Limited Shelf Life With AM-Romania, Bjt
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Romania’s national library is desperate for books, but not that desperate. The complete works of Nicolae Ceausescu are headed for the pulping machine.
″Perhaps we’ll keep one copy of each, somewhere,″ allowed Angela Popescu Bradiceni, director since 1955, with a slight sniff. ″After all, we are a library.″
A trigger of the revolution was the looming presence of the dictator’s numbing words, bound in bulk. They were stacked in the window of every bookstore. At the national library, they filled six long rows.
Enthusiastic workmen have already carted off various translations of ″On the Way of Building up the Multilaterally Developed Socialist Society,″ all 32 volumes, 700 pages each. The English edition was baled to go.
Had anyone ever checked out volume 26, for example, he would have learned: ″The visit I have paid to Somalia at the invitation of President Mohamed Siad Barre has yielded highly good results.″
The pile included leaflets of speeches, collected mental musings and 12- ounce publicity packets to the glory of a man who traveled the world ceaselessly to exchange fulsome toasts and pose for photos.
One collection had almost identical covers. At the left, there was Ceausescu with slicked down jet black hair and a debonaire mien, a photo from 1957. At the right, there was someone else: Jimmy Carter, Brezhnev, Mengistu, or whichever of his friends he happened to be visiting.
But not all the purged books were his.
There was also ″Research in the Field of Systems and Characteristics of Macromolecules″ by his wife, Elena.
″No one ever read this stuff, no one,″ said Virgil Tiberiu Spanu, director of acquisitions. ″Never.″
The couple was ousted from power Friday. They were reported executed Monday A new revolutionary council has promised free elections and democracy.
At U.N. headquarters in New York, the Romanian Mission tossed out dozens of books by Ceausescu, cut the hammer and sickle from its flag, and dropped ″socialist″ from its name.
Delegation member Dino Marian said Wednesday, ″I must confess there already was a thick layer of dust on the books.″
For the librarians, destroying Ceausescu’s books was sweet revenge for bibliophiles forced to hide away 10 percent of their collection under lock and key.
Ceausescu’s strict laws forbade anyone without a special permit to see books about Romanian politics since World War I, or works of anyone suspected to be even a mild dissident. Books by foreign radicals or U.S. economists also were restricted.
Romanian and foreign researchers had to apply to a cultural council that decided whether to grant permission. Applications were referred to the secret police.
″When you applied to the council, a very secret, complex mechanism came into play,″ Spanu said. ″Most people did not bother.″ Some books were banned altogether.
Mostly, books were not bought because the library had no foreign currency.
″We were 10 to 15 years behind the world in scientific material,″ Spanu said. The library’s latest edition of the journal ″Chemical Abstracts″ is from 1972.
But the problem went beyond money.
In Romania, each typewriter had to be registered with the police, along with a sample of its characters.
At the news agency Agerpres, editors made a careful selection of what was truth for the general public, what would be passed along in a single copy and what would go nowhere at all.
At the national library, directors are confident of a sharp shift. As one good omen, their collection survived the revolution.
Although the nearby university library lost 500,000 books, burned in fighting between Ceausescu loyalists and revolutionaries, all of the national library’s 1.5 million volumes survived.
″We were lucky because we have no building of our own, and our books are in storage all over town,″ Mrs. Bradiceni said.
She looked around at at the shelves purged of Ceausescu’s works. ″Now we have plenty of room.″