After a long illness the former general director of the Russian Book Chamber (1996-2004), doctor of philology, professor at the Moscow Polytechnic University, head of the department of the Centre for Book Culture Research of the RAS, editor-in-chief of the "Book. Studies and materials" Boris Vladimirovich Lenskiy passed away in Moscow on Nov. 27, 2021, at the age of 93.

Boris came to work at the then All-Union Book Chamber in 1985 as Deputy Director at the invitation of his friend and colleague, Yuri Vladimirovich Torsuev, who had just become Director General. This friendly and equal tandem of leaders in the most difficult times of “perestroika” and then the collapse of the USSR managed not only to maintain the staff and all the functions of the Book Chamber, but also to achieve the seemingly impossible in many areas and directions of its traditional and completely new activities. To mention here such breakthrough achievements include the creation of the All-Union Book Chamber NGO, which united the Book Institute, the publishing house “Book Chamber”, the printing house and other information and analytical services together with the Chamber in 1987, and the construction and commissioning in 1988 of two buildings for the National depository of legal deposit copies in Mozhaisk. The Chambers international and interdisciplinary relations and cooperation with various organizations and associations expanded dramatically, the automation of production processes, scientific and information support of national book publishing, bibliography and press statistics began to develop rapidly.

   Not everything that had been created back then was preserved, but the dedication, enthusiasm and optimism of the Chamber’s leaders remained unchanged. After Y.V. Torsuev left his post due to ill health, Boris V. Lenskiy, who replaced him, honorably preserved and augmented all the traditions of democratic leadership and continuous development of the Book Chamber in the interests of our state and society, the book industry and the book culture.

   Boris formally stopped working for the Chamber in 2005, but his close ties with it did not cease until the last days of his life. Too much effort was given by this man to develop and sometimes protect our organisation and its workforce for this friendship, respect and mutual love to be shaken or diminished.

   The loss of such an organizer and scholar is irreplaceable for our book industry and book science, and the memory of this charming, cheerful, big-hearted and generous man will forever remain with all those who had the chance to work and meet him.


(Note by the editor) Boris was always a pleasant colleague and a jolly friend. He was instrumental in introducing the ISBN and ISMN into Russia and thus improving Russia’s role in the international book-trade. In 1991, negotiations between the International ISBN Agency (ISMN was created later, in 1993) and the Russian Book Chamber as the national bibliographic center were at a preliminary stage. The annual congress of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) in Moscow offered a welcome opportunity to discuss ISBN and to move forward towards a decision. On Monday evening there was a reception at the Pushkin Museum and this seemed to provide a suitable atmosphere for a relaxed discussion of the matter. But when the participants had assembled there were no drinks and hardly any food. Something was wrong but what? It slowly transpired that there had been a putsch, and the military had occupied the city. The Russian colleagues showed anxiety: what would happen? Who were the people behind this coup? Would perestroika be roled back? Boris, when later describing the situation, continued: „While we were all stricken with uncertainty and concerned about the next days, my friend said, “Boris, we are not going to save Russia. But we are here together, and even if we are lacking relaxing drinks, we have the opportunity to settle the ISBN matter now!” And so we did!” The coup was over on Wednesday night, and we all celebrated at a party at the Kremlin palace - this time with plenty of champagne and ample food ... A few years later Boris supported the introduction of the ISMN in Russia, and the Book Chamber remained a good and reliable partner ever since.

Hartmut Walravens