National Library of Bulgaria’s 140th Anniversary

On 10th December 2018 the Bulgarian National Library marked its 140th anniversary. In celebration of its birthday, the library held an International Conference titled “Donation and the Culture of Giving”. The conference was attended by colleagues from the National Libraries of Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, and Latvia. Conference attendance by Dzintra Mukane, Executive Director of the National Library of Latvia and Peter Antalffy, Head of Department of International and Cultural Relations at the National Széchényi Library was financed through the CENL Skills and Knowledge Exchange Bursary.

The purpose of the conference was to assist all who seek to improve donation practices and spread the word about successful projects and programmes. Focusing on donation as a key tool in library development, the main objective of the conference was to help build public awareness and support for libraries.

Our Latvian colleague’s presentation was focused on the Community for support of the Latvian National Library. A public organisation founded in 1998 by more than 200 Riga citizens committed to join forces to finance and support the construction of a new library building. The public community was reported to currently include 120 public figures and organizations who are actively working to promote and support the National Library and public libraries in Latvia. From its establishment to 2014 they raised more than 1,3 million Euro and successfully completed projects in the field of book publishing, exhibition organisation, reading promotion programmes for children, the currently held “People’s bookshelf” initiative , and many more.

Our Hungarian colleague’s presentation was titled “Business unusual – repositioning a traditional institution in the global era”. Throughout its 216 years, history the National Széchényi Library received many substantial private donations which formed the basis for the Library’s foundation and for its development. The recent projects and accomplishments of the Library can serve as an exemplary case for both the challenges and possibilities of traditional centers of culture which have their organisational roots in pre-global historical eras. The main questions addressed by the author was: shall we change the principle of our functioning to global business models? How can we make the national culture of donation great again?

The conference was held over two days (10-11 December 2018). It gathered around 50 representatives from 10 countries. Lecturers included a mix of invited speakers from museums, national and regional libraries, universities, state and regional archives, foundations and companies with volunteer programmes and projects. The full conference programme can be found HERE.

Conference papers shall be published in a Collection of reports from the Conference.