The virtual Baltic Sea library is a continuously growing anthology of representative literary texts broadly connected with the Baltic Sea that seeks to provide multiple insights into the Baltic Sea region. The authors of the texts “held” by the library either come from this region or have written texts that deal with aspects of life on the Baltic Sea: be it with an intellectual and psychological analysis of social life in a beach resort or with exile in the Baltic Sea area. Special attention is given to authors who have travelled to neighbouring countries and written about their journeys and experiences.
In establishing these connections the library is creating a network of contacts across the Baltic Sea region and compiling a collection of texts around the various national mythologies of the Baltic Sea states. The translation of these texts into other Baltic languages is helping to shape a common cultural denominator and building up a comprehensive basis for a transnational literary history of the Baltic Sea region.
These efforts aim to foster the perception of a common cultural identity within the Baltic Sea region as a whole. As Johann Gottfried Herder put it in his Journal of my Voyage in the Year 1769:
"There is no difference whether it is now the Curonian, Prussian, Pomeranian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, English, French Sea; when it comes to navigation, it is nothing but sea everywhere."
The texts are organised alphabetically by author as well as by geographic location.
Eleven editors in the countries situated on the Baltic Sea are responsible for the selection of texts, and an editorial board is responsible for compiling the Baltic Sea canon as a whole.
The principles for this selection were discussed during a preparatory meeting at the International Writers' and Translators' House in Ventspils, Latvia.
Jan Balbierz, Kraków Minutes of the Baltic Sea Library editors’ meeting
The meeting of the editors of the virtual Baltic Sea Library on 7 April, 2011, discussed the outlines and the future of the project.
In the next years the project will be a work-in-progress and open to suggestions from readers/users of the web-page. The editors agreed that the corpus of the virtual library should include around 100 writers and 500 texts.
The main criterion for choosing texts will be that of "Baltic identity" rather than direct references to the sea as a "body of water". It follows that preference will be given to texts that refer to other literatures, that include traces of the transmission of different cultures and that testify to the currency of certain ideas in the Baltic Sea area.
Since some places on the Baltic Sea (e.g. St. Petersburg) have a particularly strong literary tradition and in order to maintain a high aesthetic standard for the library, some literatures will be represented by more texts than others.