It is only natural to have libraries all over the country, whether they are urban or rural ones. Some of these institutions are simply storing books and readers rarely pass their thresholds. Others are real cultural establishments attracting and stimulating people, and housing different local events. Nevertheless, few libraries fulfil the conditions for attaining the status of “cultural brand”. One of these exceptions is the “Petre Dulfu” County Library of Baia Mare (due to the managerial performances of its director, Teodor Ardelean).
Officially inaugurated in 2003, the library offers a generous space in a modern building. It is organized on three levels, with the following divisions: Lending for adults, Children’s section, Reading room, Periodicals, Special collections, Britannica room, the Arts room, the Multicultural section, Bibliographical services, Multimedia room, and the Titulescu room.
Besides cultural and professional events with a yearly character, the library develops important cultural programmes: Books for Romanians abroad – in November 2001, a “Maramures” subsidiary has been opened in Chişinău (Republic of Moldova), and in 2005 an identical subsidiary was set up in Spain; Books for the golden age (in 2001 they opened a subsidiary “Day centre for aged people” in Baia Mare); Books for the libraries of the new village centres; Writers from Maramures and their books in the public libraries of Maramures; Partnerships with other cultural or educational institutions from the county.
On the 17th of May 2004, the library opened its “Ludoteca” (in the section for children), and on the 9th of November 2004, a section of patents, called “Brevetoteca”, a novelty for the public libraries in Romania.
It is fact that since 2003, the most important occasional or annual events from the county of Maramures (such as book launchings, first shows, conferences, debates, scientific sessions, meetings of the local writers association etc.) have moved to the “Petre Dulfu” County Library. In the meantime, the library’s book fund has been enriched and the number of readers (pupils, students, researchers, specialists from various domains) has substantially increased each year, for many of them the library becoming their “third home”.
Teodor Ardelean, director of the institution: “Public libraries have lately gained a well-deserved place of honour in the city. It is a sign of good omen for our civil society and it is also a moral reward for all the efforts made by the guild of librarians to achieve this. Consequently, a new target has been set: the assuming on a worldwide scale as a watchword of public libraries ‘The library – your third home’, referring to the relation of libraries with the communities they serve and whose financial support sustains their activity.
In other words, people’s first home is the one where they live, the second home being where they study or work, and thus, the third home would be the place where they spend the remaining time, most of which could be in a library room, reading a book borrowed from there or accessing information from a modern database.
The simple citizens, the taxpayers, should consider the library not only with admiration and, even if they do not attend it, they ought to be determined to accept it as an essential, necessary and useful institution, a sine qua non factor for the social life of the community, an element of prestige for the area where they live.”
The Mineralogy Museum Baia Mare
The Baia Mare Depression is situated in the contact zone between the Someşana Platform and the Oriental Carpathians. By the end of the Pliocene, this region was part of a marine basin. During the Neocene, there was an intense volcanic activity in the region whose result was the development of a 50 kilometre long mountain range: Văratec, Gutâi – Oaş. The eruptive rocks from these mountain massifs contain ores with non-ferrous metals: lead, zinc, copper, as well as un-combined gold and silver.
The first mining activities in these zones can be traced back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Baia Mare had developed around these mining settlements.
After 1468, under the reign of Matei Corvin, the coins minted in Baia Mare had two crossing mining hammers on them and these will appear also on the town seal and on its coat of arms. This explains why the then official name of the town was Civitas Rivuli Dominarum (City of the Ladies’ River – 1329) and Rivulus Dominarum (Ladies’ River – 1347). The process of washing the gold from the sand was done mostly by women, the miners’ wives. This “image” had inspired foreign visitors to name Baia Mare “City of the Ladies’ River”. Centuries later it was called “the California of the Middle Ages”.
In the second half of the 20th century, mining became unprofitable. Nevertheless, the communist regime considered that it was in the interest of the state to massively subsidize this sector. After the fall of the regime (1989), and on the basis of the preliminary clauses of the adhering to the structures of the European Union, mining reached its final stage and the mining areas entered into conservation.
Nowadays, mining belongs to the history of the zone. What has remained after it is a complicated network of galleries passing through the mountains of the region, an imperial mint that has become the seat of the History and Archaeology Museum of the county, a statue representing a miner (made by Vida Gheza – 1956) and a Museum of Mineralogy unique in the world (No.1, Bd. Traian,).
The museum houses an exhibition covering 900 square metres, having over 1,000 samples of minerals, rocks and fossils. The deposit of the museum stores other 15,000 samples. The Mineralogy Museum in Baia Mare is the largest regional museum in Europe, many of its exhibits being considered world-wide rarities with patrimonial value.
The unofficial name of the museum, with cultural connotation and unanimously used, is “The museum of mine flowers”. “A mine flower is a mineral sample collected from the mine, consisting either of a single mineral or a formation with different minerals, possessing special aesthetic qualities due to the way the crystals have grown together, due to the colour, form, or the exceptional dimensions of the crystals in it, qualities which give a well-individualised character to each sample when compared with the others” (Victor Gorduza, director of the museum).
On the ground floor, the exhibition presents the geological structure of north-western Romania. The most impressive exhibits are shown on the upper floor, the background music added to the beauty of the exhibits creating a poetic atmosphere and the syncretism of image and music makes of the environment a proper place for elevated cultural events. This is where the local subsidiary of the Romanian Writers Union organizes its yearly festivity of awarding the prizes for the “Books of the Year”.
The conception of this institution and its transformation into a genuine cultural foundation is the most inspired way of valuing the defining historical features and characteristics of this region and creating out of them a cultural objective: a national and even European brand.