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Ginutis (Genius) Procuta.

Courtesy of the Family

The library at the University of Vilnius was not the only academic institution to benefit from Ginutis Procuta’s zeal to preserve Lithuanian materials; both the Robarts Library and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto received annual donations from Dalia and Ginutis Procuta. Each book was meticulously researched and Mr. Procuta, a professor, often added notes on how he found the item or how he was able to rescue it from obscurity.

One item – a Catholic prayer book, deemed illegal because several of the prayers were written by priests banned from publishing by the Soviet regime, was found during a trip to his homeland in 1984. Unfortunately, he continued on to Leningrad and while he was on a tour of the Winter Palace, someone must have entered his hotel room and searched his luggage, for upon his return, the book was gone. No explanation was ever given. Luckily, another copy was found later.

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Another banned item, Antanas Miskinis’s Keturi miestai, published in Kaunas in 1938, was able to be smuggled out of Lithuania by having the title page of an “acceptable” work, pasted over the real title.

Reading his notes every year added a great deal of joy to my work as gifts-in-kind librarian at the Fisher Library. His love for Lithuania and his fervid desire to preserve its printed matter stood out so strongly in his own written words. In one of our meetings, he confided to me his wish to be buried in the courtyard of the library at the University of Vilnius. I hope his wish came true.

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