Monday, January 20, 2014

Latvians formed human chain to transfer books to new library

Latvians on Saturday marked the start of Riga's tenure as one of two European capitals of culture with an emotional ceremony recalling the Baltic states' 1989 fight for independence from the Soviet Union.

Around 15,000 people braved freezing temperatures to form a 'chain of book lovers' stretching more than two kilometres (more than a mile) across the capital, deliberately echoing the Baltic Way when some two million protesters formed a human chain across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In Saturday's event, people in the chain passed along books from Riga's existing 150-year-old national library across the River Daugava to a new national library building due to open in August. Organiser Aiva Rozenberga said the event had deep symbolic significance for Latvians.

YouTube link.

"The people who stood in the Baltic Way remember that feeling of being shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers," she said. "The people taking part in the book chain who are prepared to stand here on a cold winter day are taking this seriously too - we are literally standing up for culture."

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