The publication of books in minority languages
The supply of those libraries that house books in the languages of national minorities is coordinated by the National Library of Foreign Literature. One of the Library's prioritised tasks is to give information about literature written in minority languages. Those interested can use this service in the national minority languages as well. With the support of the EU-funded Social Renewal Operational Programme (TAMOP), the minority subportal of the Library was created. The subportal gives information about the Library in the laoguages of 13 minorities in Hungary. An online information service was launched under the tile 'Ask the librarian in your mother tongue'; it gives information in 9 minority languages.
The field of competence of the National Library of Foreign Literature includes the coordination of the base libraries of national minorities (19 county libraries and the Metropolitan Szab6 Ervin Library). The Library compiles a list of works to be purchased on the basis of the books published in the target countries and in Hungary; its partner libraries may order books from this list according to their needs. The National Library of Foreign Literature purchases the documents ordered and performs related administrative and financial tasks. Meanwhile, it maintains continuous contact with partner libraries and suppliers.
Libraries established and operated by national self-governments of ethnic and national minorities also participate in the performance of such tasks. Libraries equipped with a considerable number of works of literature and educational works operate in schools that offer education for minorities.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minorities Rights registered the data of the books and other publications published in national minority languages on the basis of the data of 2008 of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office.
According to these data, 68 German, 30 Croatian, 18 Slovak, 18 Romanian and 2 Serbian books were published. Most probably, the actual numbers are higher than that. In the same year, the minority public foundation submitted data of 89 supported organizations that work in the field of the publication of bilingual works or works in minorities' mother tongue. These organizations received a total sum of HUF 21.63 million asa support.
The Hungarian Association of Ethnography, a renowned Hungarian scientific NGO has been publishing its series 'The Ethnography of National Minorities in Hungary' for almost 40 years now. The objective of the organization is 'to study those peoples that live or lived in the territory of the present or historical territory of Hungary and - through getting to know each other - to cherish a sense of concord and unity.' The series has been published in minority languages and/or in Hungarian since 1975. To our knowledge, this is a unique initiative in Central Europe. The series offers an opportunity of high-quality publication for the research workshops and universities of minorities and for experts in the motherlands. The volumes find their way not only to the libraries of the given communities in Hungary, but also to those of the motherlands and of major libraries all over the world.
The volumes published so far are as follows: 26 in German, 22 in Slovak, 15 in Romanian, 10 in Yugoslavian (Croatian/Serbian/Slovenian), 14 in Croatian, 6 in Serbian and 5 in Slovenian. The eight joint volumes of the 'small minorities' (Bulgarians, Greeks, Polish, Armenians and Ruthenians) and the volumes in Slovenian are all bilingual. The 15 volumes on the Roma are written in Hungarian (the mother tongue of the majority of the Roma minority) and contain an English summary of certain studies.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of financial resources the activity- which was launched in 2000- stopped: in 2010 and 2011 the annual amount allocated for purchase was not available. As a result, the right of Hungary's minorities to have access to documents in their mother tongues was infringed. To alleviate the problem, in 2011 the maintainer - the Ministry of National Resources - provided HUF 2 million from other resources for the purchase of such documents; the National Library of Foreign Literature allocated the amount to the purchase of periodicals in minority languages.