US envoy, in visit to Saint Petersburg, comes with gifts in hand

Alexander Vershbow, the US ambassador to Russia, will take part Friday (November 21) in the formal opening here in the Mayakovsky Library of a unique US center for future leaders. US information centers are already open in Novgorod, Petrozavodsk, Vologda and Kaliningrad.

These US 'corners' are open during regular library hours and lend books and provide information sought by visitors. In addition, the centers offer a wide variety of programs on American culture and education, film and video showings and meetings with US visitors.

The special character of the center for future leaders at the Mayakovsky Library arises from its collections. For the first time, Petersburg children, teenagers and teachers will have access to up-to-date reference works, modern American literature and videos in English. The bulk of the material was given to the library by the US publishing house Scholastic. Some comes from the Queens (N.Y.) Public Library. Some 500 American children's books have been donated by citizens of Saint Petersburg, Florida, in honor of the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Vershbow also will take part in the presentation of a USD 20,000 grant from the president of the United States to the library of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The presidential grant is intended for the restoration of rare American books in the library's collections. It, too, is a 300th anniversary gift.

The envoy also will open a conference of graduates of the US 'Open World' program for staff of the Russian National Library. Vershbow will also take journalists' questions at a press conference.

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