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The First National Library Week in Bulgaria

The First National Library Week in Bulgaria


By Dr. Elena Koeva - Yurchenko, Director of the Library and Information Center at the University of Management - Varna


In July 2002, six Bulgarian librarians from public libraries participated in the US State Department's International Visitors Program. The topic of our specialization was "Information Management and Information Sciences". We visited various libraries and library information institutions in Washington DC, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angelesand New York. We worked the longest at our partner libraries in the Sister Libraries Program in various cities in Colorado.

During the Annual National Conference with the international participation of the American Library Association (ALA) in Atlanta, Georgia, I - as a member of the Board of the Union of Librarians and Information Workers (ULIW) and Snejana Ianeva - Director of the Information Center of the American Embassy in Bulgaria and a member of ULIW, we signed a document - International trademark use agreement, which gave the opportunity to ULIW to join the World Campaign of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions "@YOUR LIBRARY", with a trademark in Bulgarian language "@ YOUR LIBRARY". The aim of the campaign was to promote libraries as modern public and information centers and seek support for their development. It was proposed 11th May to be celebrated as a professional holiday for librarians. Many libraries were expected to join the national "@ YOUR LIBRARY" campaign. The most active were “Dora Gabe” Library in Dobrich, whose director I was for 13 years and where the campaign was initially launched, the Library at the Rodina Community Center in Stara Zagora, the “Zachary Knyazheski” Library in Stara Zagora, the Library “P. Slaveykov” in Varna and others.



In September 2002, ULIW organized in Evksinograd with the financial support of the American Center in Sofia a National Conference "Public Responsibility of Public Libraries and Their Role in a Democratic Society", where we shared with colleagues across the country different impressions of what we had seen in the US, including their experience in organizing a NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK.

In November 2003, the American-Bulgarian Library Exchange Project was launched. A number of public libraries from all over the country took part in it. Librarians visited various libraries in Colorado and Iowa. In the autumn of 2004, a training for trainers was held in Sofia on how to conduct regional seminars on the issues of building public information centers. Nancy Bolt and Jamie LaRoue presented the model of advocacy campaigns in the United States.

In March 2004, within the framework of the project, the chairman of ULIW and the director of the project from the Bulgarian side visited the USA. Their meetings at the ALA's Chicago and Washington DC offices, as well as at Iowa and Colorado libraries, also focused on exploring the experience of organizing National Library Week and ways how to lobby for libraries. Most members of our guild were already convinced that this experience can be applied in Bulgaria, and the implementation of annual campaigns in the form of National Library Week would play a significant role in changing the attitudes of politicians about libraries and the need to update regulations in the field of library work.

In early October in the city of Razgrad, Bulgarian librarians who had specialized in various programs in the United States established the American Library Experience Association, which I was elected to chair.



With our active participation in 2005 and in the beginning of 2006 the preparation of the first in Bulgaria National Library Week was prepared. The ULIW Board prepared a project which with the help of Snejana Ianeva received financial support from the US State Department. A plan of initiatives was developed and working groups were selected. The members of the Coordination Committee were Snejana Ianeva, Vanya Grashkina, Elena Koeva-Yurchenko, Emilia Milkova and Nelly Stoilova. The working group with members - Vanya Grashkina, Alexander Dimchev, Elena Koeva-Yurchenko and Alexandra Dipchikovaprepared a special proclamation.

The President of the 40th National Assembly, Mr. Pirinski, accepted the invitation to be the patron of the National Library Week. Especially valuable for the preparation was the brochureof guidelines for the Library Advocate, translated from English by Ani Popova.

Colleagues from all over the country submitted to the Board of Directors of ULIW 89 proposals for the title of the campaign. I was happy when, after the first vote to choose a title, I saw my proposal among the top 10 proposals. I was very happy when my proposal was chosen in the second vote - "The Library - an Investment in the Future".

The first National Library Week was held from 15 to 21 May 2006. "The library - an investment in the future". It included 48 libraries from 28 settlements–National Library "St. St. Cyril and Methodius”, Central Bank of BAS, CNTB, 14 university, 16 regional, 10 community centers and 4 school libraries.

The week started with the opening of an exhibition "The Contemporary Bulgarian Library" in the National Assembly in the presence of more than 200 librarians from across the country, MPs, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Regional Development, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, scientific circles, etc. The exhibition was opened by Assoc. Prof. Dr.KameliaKasabova - Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. Welcoming remarks were made by Prof. Stefan Danailov, Member of Parliament and Jeffrey Levine - US Deputy Ambassador in Sofia.

Georgi Pirinski, prominent scientists and cultural figures, Dr. K. Mirev - Chairman of the Association of Mayors, representatives of the Bulgarian Book Association and many members ofour profession took part in the organized discussion on the problems of libraries. Various issues were discussed - the lack of a national strategy for the development of the library sector, the lack of modern regulations, the technological lag from the standards of the information society and others.

Librarians from all over the country met with members of Parliament from the respective constituencies, in various libraries there were meetings with deputy ministers, district governors, representatives of local authorities, community centers. The most active were the libraries in Varna, VelikoTarnovo, Dimitrovgrad, Dobrich, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Silistra, Sliven, Stara Zagora and Targovishte. The place of public libraries as partners of the local government, their inclusion in municipal strategies, projects and development programs, the possibilities for building a regional library and information network were discussed. The issues of development of the library funds and information resources, introduction of ICT and the material and technical base were raised with earnest. As a result, a number of libraries solved some of their current problems at the time. With the efforts of hundreds of colleagues from all over the country, a variety of events took place. Information about them can be found at the websites of almost all libraries.

The media partner of the campaign was the HristoBotev Program of the National Radio, but all other national and local electronic and print media covered the National Library Week.

I am almost at the end of my career. That is why I wish my young colleagues will have many new ideas, initiatives and the courage in their realization. SnejanaIaneva's inspired public mission for the benefit of Bulgarian libraries will always teach us how to do this effectively. I share her conviction that results can only be achieved through strong advocacy campaigns when we attract existing and potential users of library and information services, central and local governments, non-governmental and business organizations, associations, university, and school leaders.