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Memories of Ambassador John Beyrle

There is no translation available.

When I arrived in Sofia as the United States Ambassador to Bulgaria in 2005, I met a talented team of professionals in my Bulgarian staff.  But Snejana Ianeva was a standout in that strong field.  Her energy and creativity in finding ways to highlight the bonds of friendship and alliance between Bulgaria and the United States were matched by her dedication and total commitment to her work.  I traveled extensively around Bulgaria during my three years as Ambassador, always with Snejana at my side: making introductions, helping me understand the local “lay of the land,” and offering valuable suggestions about themes to emphasize in my meetings and public remarks.  Snezhka was joy to work with; her irrepressible positive outlook and good humor were an inspiration to me and remain among my fondest memories of the years I spent in Bulgaria. These warm memories are a comfort amid the sadness I know that we all feel in her loss. 

John Beyrle
Unites States Ambassador to Bulgaria, 2005 - 2008

 

_Байърли_връчва_награда_на_Снежана_Янева.jpg

 

 Среща в МонтанаСреща в Разград

Memories of Ambassador John Beyrle

Memories of Ambassador John Beyrle

When I arrived in Sofia as the United States Ambassador to Bulgaria in 2005, I met a talented team of professionals in my Bulgarian staff.  But Snejana Ianeva was a standout in that strong field.  Her energy and creativity in finding ways to highlight the bonds of friendship and alliance between Bulgaria and the United States were matched by her dedication and total commitment to her work.  I traveled extensively around Bulgaria during my three years as Ambassador, always with Snejana at my side: making introductions, helping me understand the local “lay of the land,” and offering valuable suggestions about themes to emphasize in my meetings and public remarks.  Snezhka was joy to work with; her irrepressible positive outlook and good humor were an inspiration to me and remain among my fondest memories of the years I spent in Bulgaria. These warm memories are a comfort amid the sadness I know that we all feel in her loss.

John Beyrle
Unites States Ambassador to Bulgaria, 2005 - 2008

 Байърли връчва награда на Снежана ЯневаСреща в МонтанаСреща в Разград

To Snejana Ianeva with Deference and Love...

To Snejana Ianeva with Deference and Love...

Nikola R. Kazanski

You ought to be silent when it hurts

Or else they smash you over there

Marina Tsvetaeva

Libraries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism.

Neil Gaiman

It is said that Bulgaria is a small country,situated in a very complicated place.

Or simply speaking for it weighs with theapothegmGods may do what cattle may not or more commonlyevery cobbler must stick to his last. That‘s why I’ll cast my eyes about only on my limpid library plash.

But they say also that it is not allowed to write things similar toMy Pushkin likewise Anna Akhmatova or Marina Tsvetaeva. I do absolutely disagree with this and so I shall venture to write MySnejana Ianeva with, of course, the French reservationtoutes proportions gardées.

For goodness’s sake I was not even among those lucky fellows over 40 (!) Bulgarian librarians sent by Snejana on training in America. But nevertheless I am from the town of AlekoKonstantinov (1863-1897) who wrote To Chicago and Back.I do remember when, as a tutor of Professor Greg Harris from Harvard, in the framework of the Bulgarian FulbrightCommission, I had a direct contact with his father – former U.S. Marine Corps officer. During the conversation he asked me What is this AlekoKonstantinov? and I replied spontaneously Well,he is something between Mark Twain and O. Henry… To the astonished glance of the father at his son, the latter retorted jestingly But Nikola isstillthe librarian of the Academy…

I’ll try to write a parallel life story for my personal satisfaction…

Snejana and I we do have, initially and fatally, a good dealin common – the both of us are NOT from Sofia. Only those who were like us could comprehend what it is all about. And this was once upon a time when the right of residency in Sofia was an exclusive privilege and much more than a noblerank.

Otherwise we are born just before the Stalin’s death. She on an International Women’s Day and I on an International Day for Monuments and Sites. 18th of April is perilously close to the birthdays of Hitler and Lenin but there is nothing one can do about that. Allegedly the tenet

TheSon is not responsible for the Father was valid, butnot in reality. I personally was fully accountable for my elder brother (non-returner, émigré-defector). As a consequence, I’ve done my military service in the Labor Corps, the place for compulsory service of former criminals, as well as ignorant young folk from the national minorities. This was a gross and flagrant violation of the law in force at the time according to which I, as a university graduate and having a crystal clean police record, should be assigned to a Military school for reserve officers.

Well, never mind, who cares…

We have grown up inparochial towns of about 20 thousand residents but both of themalso with quite emblematic history.

Svishtov was a trade and Bulgarian national revival seat where came into being the first Bulgarian library and cultural club in 1856 and Dimitrovgrad was an important junction of the trans-EuropeanOriental railways of Baron Hirsch and was a symbol of the modern Bulgarian industry. But it was also the town of my favorite poet PenyoPenev (1930-1959) with his providential Days of Retreat where was declared the paragon:

 

The Man is Man if and only if

He is on the road again!

We are brought up in intellectual families with largeprivate libraries. Especially my father (Professor in French and docteurѐslettres) is originated from the village of Kazanka not so far from Dimitrovgrad.

We are of course straight A students with excellent marks and graduated also from a second university major in library studies, bibliography and scientific information at Sofia University.

The foreign languages are not at all alien to us, but her cathedral was English, while I hesitated between French, Russian and other so-called Western languages. By vital necessity however I exerted myself in the English…

We have come into office as rank-and-file librarians in the biggest academic libraries in Bulgaria – the Central Library of Sofia University and the Central Library of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Exceedingly fast for the then conservative times we became the youngest heads of departments of Periodicals and International exchange of publications respectively.

All the same we do have a “small” problem with the visit to foreign countries outside the “socialist camp” which is result as well of our position in the spirit of the ominous verse by Marina Tsvetaeva(1892-1941) in 1938:

In this Bedlam of nonhumans –

I refuse to live!

With this pack of wolves of yours –

I refuse to howl!

The fall of the BerlinWall was existential for both of us and Snejana herself had even the chance to witness in person this crucial event.

After a great number of successful competitions for training abroad and immediately after winning a professional competition in 1992,Snejana took office at the US Embassy in Sofia and even became Director of the American Information Resource Center. This is a quite rare case in our country where everythingis determined by political expedience or kinship ties, and more often by both simultaneously.

After that our ways continued in the same direction but while she rambled confidently in the highest home and international library circles, I tried to maintain the prestige of library profession in the academic realm. For this contributed my specializations (always by competition and not by office) in the national and academic libraries of England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Turkey, etc.

Whatever one has said about the contributions of Snejana Ianeva to the development and the advancement of libraries in Bulgaria during the last 30 years it will be always insufficient, mostly fragmentary, and partial.

 

She has been, really and truly, as a hundred-armed Shiva or multiple-armed Kali, who incrediblysucceeded to tackle lots of extremely difficult problems in the quite entangled library domain, which has always been a second fiddle in Bulgaria.

First, she established a long-term connection with the most technologically advanced American theory and practice. Many Bulgarian librarians, mainly from the province, which has always been deprived from opportunities in comparison to the capital, went to specializations and exchange programs. Being born outside the circles of the privileged in Sofia, Snejana understood and felt the depth of this serious problem.

Thanks to her numerous contacts and competent professional relations we have now in Bulgaria the most remarkable large-scale project of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “Glob@l Libraries Bulgaria”. For that project only she deserves a monument… Besides that, under her leadership more than a dozen American centers and reading rooms were created at the public libraries all over the country.

As President of the Bulgarian Library Association, she was elected and took the baton from worthy predecessors, but her unstoppable energy and leadership charisma lead to results that were unthinkable before. She established and strengthened the contacts with such important professional organizations like the American Library Association, The Association of European Research Libraries, and of course the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, and UNESCO.

Thanks to her the postponed for ever (ad kalendas Graekas) Law of Public Libraries was finally adopted - something extremely difficult to achieve in a country like Bulgaria.

She started and developed such useful professional initiatives like the National Library Week, Green Libraries, awards and distinctions for the best librarians and many others.

Without delay she encouraged the adoption and use of the newest and most sophisticated information technologies in the libraries in her capacity of the Director of the American Information Resource Center.

Last but not least is her not-publicized participation, but worthy contribution to such international projects like the new Library of Alexandria. An important result of that is the position of President Peter Stoyanov as a member of the Bord of Alexandria Library, a great honor for any country.

There are legends about her honesty, fairness, and professional dignity, but let us leave these to be told in the memories of the people as time goes on.

During those very intensive decades my contacts with Snejana were not very frequent, but always filled with important content and remembered as memorable moral lessons. On one side one felt the sincerity and warmth of a competent colleague, on the other the indisputable authority of a capable leader. This last quality was very characteristic of Snejana Ianeva. She had a God given gift as a leader. There were no obvious or hidden forces behind her, only her personal natural charisma.

I remember with bitterness that the infamous totalitarian system had (at least on paper) very high criteria for librarians, like university education, graduate degrees, postdoctoral specializations, knowledge of more than one western language (Russian was a given), computer literacy etc.. At the same time there were no criteria to be a library director – even university education was not required, not to speak of the others. This totalitarian administrative absurdity of course was not incidental. It was the foundation of the tribal atavistic power, which led consequently to its own inglorious fall into non-existence, but that came as always at the expense and in detriment of the common people.

The times of democratic change at least gave an opportunity to natural leaders like Snejana to take their rightful place in society. And it was a great chance not only for all Bulgarian librarians, but for the library system. As the saying goes “God looked upon us with both eyes…”

Snejana with her natural curiosity loved to travel. She was in her element on water. She loved ships and boats. After all her Zodiac sign is Pices….

I, myself besides Italy and the Portuguese fado love the fairy tale countries and even managed to visit Persia (Iran) and Anatolia (Turkey).

When I am brooding over and over about Sneja, very often to my mind comes the fateful stanza of Pushkin:

Holy Virgin remains woeful

Over the eternal stream…

And I will finish with the verses of Anna Andreevna Akhmatova:

Not under foreign skies protection

Or saving wings of alien birth –

I was then there – with my whole nation –

There, where my nation was, alas!

 

About Snejana Ianeva – Always with Respect and Gratitude

Memories by Nelly Stoilova, a longtime Director of the Regional Library “P. Pavlovich” and a leader of the city of Silistra. 

“Hello Nelly, I have an idea”, this was almost always the start of my conversations with Snejana Ianeva. And by sharing her idea she effortlessly was making me a part of enriching, developing and execution of that idea. She was capable to inspire, to focus on the best of each proposal and bring it to scale and fruition. She was tireless in generating ideas and making them happen without delay. Always well-meaning and supportive, having a genuine authority, she was a down-to-Earth person and a remarkable professional. All her ideas and plans were always about the libraries – material resources, funds, qualifications, exchanges, partnerships, human resources, programs, and projects. The focus of her work for decades without any pay was the development and modernization of all Bulgarian libraries as part of the democratic process, increasing the importance of libraries and the prestige of librarians.

 

A MEMOIRE OF SNEJANA

It is only recently that I learned of Snejana's passing. It is never easy to handle the loss of someone who has been part of one's life story. 

My earliest recollection goes some 30 years back, when SnejanaYaneva had just begun work for the US Embassy in Sofia and then moved on to lead the American Corner as a part of the US information service. Those were more or less fleeting encounters, whenever I would visit an Embassy event or function. By then, I already had a seasoned relationship with the Embassy of many years. Times had dramatically changed though and 'the wind of change' had brought about an overwhelming desire and huge opportunities to build an entirely new relationship with America. Both of us were working to that end in our own fields - Snejana as a librarian, and I as a diplomat and member of parliament. 

Little did I know at the time that a decade later we would be joining forces in accomplishing - from both ends - one of the most fascinating US-Bulgarian projects, which would have a defining impact on Bulgaria's librarian and cultural setting. 

People tend to keep mementos from memorable professional and personal experiences. I am no exception.

My many years as Bulgaria's ambassador to the United States naturally resulted in an exciting collection of commemorative items telling stories of events and people that have partaken in already a robust modern US-Bulgarian relationship.

A highlight in my collection are a couple of recognition plaques for outstanding contribution to the inception and implementation of the ABLE project on the upgrade and the modernization of libraries in Bulgaria after the most advanced American public library model, which further on grew to become the Global Libraries - Bulgaria Program. This huge undertaking was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with over 13 million dollars. To get there was not easy.

I was the first official Bulgarian representative to visit and begin talks with the Foundation headquartered in Seattle, and, many months later, sign the framework agreement opening the path to the implementation of the project. There were rigid requirements to be fulfilled to qualify for funding and expert support. An in-depth process of scrutiny and evaluation of thousands of libraries all over Bulgaria had to begin. 

A key person on the Bulgarian end was Sneja.  During that time, she made a few trips to the US to discuss and finalize project details. We would then meet to compare notes on the work in progress and what needed to be done next In the US and in Bulgaria.

Those were meetings of like-minded and success-committed people. 

It was an overwhelming and protracted effort. Even the smallest libraries in remotest parts of the country were given the chance to compete for approval. All of them needed guidance and knowhow. Sneja was always there for them. 

The effort also cultivated an outstanding mutual engagement and cooperation between the Bulgarian and the American Librarians' Associations. Colleagues from both countries bonded in a way politicians can only dream about. And againSneja was the good fairy behind it.

"I will never forget the stubborn insistence of the American librarians working on the project to struggle with the hard pronunciation of the Bulgarian word "chitalishte" using it in place of "library'". They claimed it said a lot more than their own word. And it does indeed ...

As a final result, almost 1 000 public libraries in villages and towns all over Bulgaria were computerized and taken up to a state-of-the art level, while over 3 000 librarians underwent individual training.

I am again taking a fond look at my two plaques. The acronyms of the bestowing institutions have faces and names behind.

And Snejana Ianeva's name and smiling, soft and personable face loom high among them.

ELENA POPTODOROVA

Vice President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria

Ambassador to the US (2002 - 2008; 2010-2016)

Member of Parliament (1990 - 2001)

 

Млада Тодорова, колежка от Посолството на САЩ в България си спомня...

There is no translation available.

 70-години от рождението на Снежана Янева

Бях на работа в старата сграда на посолството на ул. Съборна, срещу сградата на БНБ, и един ден мернах Снежана Янева в библиотеката. Било е около март 1993, преди 29 години. Познавах я бегло от преди, но не знаех с какво се занимава. Оказа се, че идва от позиция на директор на библиотеката на Софийския университет и постъпва като директор на библиотеката на посолството. Предишната година е била на специализация в университета в Урбана Шампейн в Щатите, близо до Чикаго в щата Илинойс. Библиотеката беше в едно помещение примерно 5 на 5 метра, с няколко рафта книги, изглеждаше като малко по-голям хол в апартамент с частна библиотека. Това бяха последните дни в тази сграда. Предстоеше преместване на библиотеката и на целия отдел на ул. Витоша 18.
Откриването на новия Американски център беше определено за 24 май. В помещенията, предоставени от общината, кипеше ремонт. Долният етаж беше определен за обществена библиотека със свободен достъп, до него беше и огромен салон за кинопрожекции. Снежана беше душата на библиотеката.

Embassy1

                                           1993 г.

Помещенията бяха застлани с хубави зелени мокети. Доставени бяха красиви рафтове от светло дърво, големи маси и столове за читателите, стойки за вестници, каквито бяхме виждали само по филмите. Книгите от старата библиотека бяха опаковани, пристигнаха и много нови книги. Особено впечатляващи бяха за мен огромните справочници за американските университети, напечатани на тънка хартия. Мога да кажа, че всичко това мина през ръцете на Снежа. Тя лично разопакова всички кашони с книги, подреждаше и пренареждаше ги по рафтовете.

Embassy2

 

Всичко беше готово за деня на откриването, очакваше се дъжд и специално бяха купени чадъри за официалните лица. Улица Карниградска беше затворена и издигнаха трибуна. По време на речите заваля и скоро всички влязоха за коктейла в кинозалата, имаше и американска певица. По едно време някой ме извика да отида в библиотеката. От остъклението на тавана шуртеше вода. Разбира се, Снежа беше вече там, дойдоха още 2-3 колеги. Започна се преместване на книгите, носехме кофи и парцали. Всичко беше спасено, не можахме да покажем библиотеката на гостите. Но в продължение на 11 години след това библиотеката беше едно от любимите места на българските читатели.

Embassy3

                                           1993 г. Библиотеката вече работи.

Embassy4

                                           1994 г. С RLO Stephen Millinger. Библиотеката получава Интернет връзка.

Embassy5

                                         1996 г. Посланик Bohlen и PAO Plotkin - прерязване лентата за Интернет сайта на Посолството.

Както от първия ден, така и след това всичко минаваше през ръцете на Снежа. Библиотеката беше едно от първите места в София с достъп до Интернет, с многобройни справочници, вестници и списания. След затварянето на Американския център през 2004 година, със същата отдаденост тя участва в създаването, организирането и подреждането на новия Американски център в Столична библиотека, за да не бъдат българските читатели лишени от достъп до това, което ги интересува.

Така и ще я помним всички, които сме работили с нея. Посветена на работата, на хората, с които работи, до последно.

Млада Тодорова