The Ratiu-Tilea Library - Transylvanian students will soon be reading rare books

1st March 2009

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Lucian Blaga Library Transylvanian students will soon be reading rare books that once belonged to the important Romanian statesmen Ion Ratiu and Viorel V. Tilea, after The Ratiu-Tilea Library was recently transferred for safekeeping to the ‘Lucian Blaga’ Central University Library of the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. Until now The Library was housed at the Ratiu Foundation offices in London, said The Ratiu Foundation. The Ratiu-Tilea Library will give researchers access to some 5,500 items: books, periodicals and brochures, as well as academic and other types of publications. The subjects range from the arts and biography, to diplomacy, economics, law, politics, political sciences, religion, memoirs and literature, in Romanian, English, German, French, Hungarian and other languages. Some of the books are very rare – such as an important number of Romanian publications from exile; some are priceless through their charting of events and people that influenced the fate of nations. Spanning such a vast array of subjects, the Ratiu-Tilea Library offers an accurate and unique image of the twentieth century, of its great upheavals, challenges, and changes, and it forms a most valuable resource for scholars of recent and contemporary history. Part of this library consists of books that belonged to Ion Ratiu's uncle, Viorel V. Tilea, Minister Plenipotentiary and Head of the Romanian Legation in London before WW2. The two collections were merged and Ion Ratiu later improved and augmented this repository of knowledge, bringing it to its present form. The Ratiu Foundation enjoys a very successful partnership with the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, in Transylvania, Romania, one of the major seats of learning in the country. “To emphasise this long-term and productive partnership with the Babes-Bolyai University, and as a sign of appreciation for the University’s prominent role in Transylvania’s and Romania’s life, the Ratiu Foundation decided to make this special endowment that will benefit scholars and further promote learning”, said Nicolae Ratiu, Chairman of the Ratiu Foundation. Once installed in a room that has been specifically set aside for the purpose, the Ratiu-Tilea Library will form a special book collection of the Central University Library, and will be open for research. This significant move has been made this year, in memory of Ion Ratiu, on the 30th anniversary of the Ratiu Foundation he established in London in 1979. In the opinion of the Foundation's trustees, conditions now prevailing in Romania in general and at the Central University Library in Cluj in particular, are well suited to housing such a collection and making it freely available for research. The late Ion Ratiu (6 June 1917 – 17January 2000), the well known democracy campaigner, lawyer, journalist, writer, politician, businessman and philanthropist, was a dedicated collector of books, and an avid reader. The Ratiu Foundation has also delivered its unique collection of ‘The Free Romanian / Romanul liber’ newspaper to the ‘Lucian Blaga’ Central University Library, from its first issue in May 1985 up to 1995. ‘The Free Romanian / Romanul liber’ was a monthly newspaper, published by Ion Ratiu as President of the Uniunea Mondiala a Romanilor Liberi, following the first Congress of the World Union of Free Romanians (Geneva, 1984). It was published in two separate editions, in English and Romanian. In Ion Ratiu’s own words, the paper was “the place where we could present Romanian problems; [the place where] we attacked all major issues, discussed them and presented them to the free world”. ‘Romanul Liber’ will soon also be followed by the full collection of the earlier ‘Free Romanian Press’ – a weekly independent newsletter of news and views on Romania dating from 1958. This is a unique, objective, uncensored contemporary history of Romania as viewed from exile. At the same time, another book collection, assembled over many years by British author Alan Ogden, a good friend and connoisseur of Romania, was moved to Turda, a historic neighbouring city in Cluj County and home to the Ratiu Center for Democracy. The Ratiu Center for Democracy was founded in 2004 to promote those values and behaviours associated with democracy that Ion Ratiu championed throughout his life. Alan Ogden’s collection will be housed in the Center’s comfortable library and reading room. For more information on the Ratiu-Tilea Library and how its contents can be accessed, contact: The ‘Lucian Blaga’ Central University Library Str. Clinicilor nr. 2, Cluj-Napoca, cod 400006, Romania Tel. +40 264 597 092; Fax: +40 264 597 633 E-mail: ; Web site: . The Ratiu Foundation in London was established in 1979, by Ion and Elisabeth Ratiu. In 2009, this generous initiative celebrates 30 years of the fight for independent thought and cultural excellence. The main objective of the Foundation is to promote and support projects which promote further education and research in the culture and history of Romania and its people. At the moment, the Foundation maintains offices in London, Washington, Turda and Bucharest and is one of the main independent supporters of educational, cultural, civil society projects in Romania. The Ratiu Foundation offers 100 annual grants, principally for postgraduate courses. The Ratiu grants are awarded to Romanian students to study a wide range of subjects in the UK. The Ratiu Foundation also offers annual seed funding for innovative projects, which foster Romanian arts and civilisation, heritage, civil society, democracy, and environmental protection. More details on The main photo above shows the ‘Lucian Blaga’ Central University Library © BCU Cluj