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SHUMEN’S REGIONAL PUBLIC LIBRARY – TRADITIONS AND MODERN TIMES

“A Bulgarian does not step on bread or a book!”
From a letter by Ilia R. Blaskov to Juri Venelin (1869)

Throughout its existence the Regional Public library “Stilian Chilingirov” honorably has taken place in the social and cultural life in the town of Shumen. The foundation was laid with the proposal of our patriotic fellow-citizen and writer Stilian Chilingirov. In 1920 the then minister of education Stoyan Omarchevski introduced „Statute for establishment of the accessibility of national libraries”. According to this statute, by order №3029 from 13th July 1922, the National library in Shumen was founded as the forth depositary in the country (after those in Sofia, Plovdiv and Tarnovo). On 6th November 1922, 507 depositary books and periodicals were received as the first consignment. Patriotic people from Shumen organized the completion of the library funds. One of the first donations was made by Mrs. K. Velkova, Mrs. Tchentcheva, Professor Benyo Tzonev, Vasil Klasanov, Mihail Kubadinov, French Foreign Ministry, the National library in Sofia and others. Just like every new beginning, here also the enthusiasm went along with difficulties. For years the library was a closed book depository with an access for a limited number of people only. Its first director Ivan Kalchev – a teacher in the Boy’s high school, and later the teacher Stefan Angelov, tried to make the library publicly available, but they did not succeed. In the beginning the library did not have its own building, but took shelter in the rooms of the Military club, in “Arhangel Mihail” library, in the premises of the Chamber of community, in Dimitar Kanchev’s house at Kaloyan str. №18. On 23rd August 1933 by order of the Ministry of Education, the first regular qualified librarian Vasil Klasanov was appointed as a manager of the library – a well-known librarian figure. For more than 15 years he dedicatedly worked for the library management, for the increase of the working staff, and for the library’s financing. The association “National library Foundation, community centre and archaeological museum in the town of Shumen” was founded on his initiative and it obtained its right to buy off a place for a building. Residing in the town of Shumen in 1937, Stilian Chilingirov illustrated generosity to his fellow-citizens as he “engaged himself’ paying 100 levs every month in the course of 5 years. Furthermore, in memory of his deceased daughter Angelinka, he donated his last publications costing more than 2500lv to the library” – this was reported by the news items of “Shumen’s post” on 8th June, copy 46. The first sod for “The library – museum” was turned on 2nd September 1968. In March 1980 the library transferred its fund into the new-built edifice. Today the Regional Public library in Shumen is one of the few in the country whose edifice was designed and built in compliance with its functions as a library. By order №2024, from 22nd August 1952 made by the Committee of science, art and culture, the National library in Shumen performed regional functions. On its 50th anniversary on 15th May 1972, the library took the name Regional library “Vasil Kolarov”. The name “National library – Shumen” was restored in 1990. In 1997, on the occasion of its 75 years anniversary and by the offer of doctor Ivan Sakelariev, the library took the name of its patron- Stilian Chilingirov. The Regional library in the district of Shumen was approved by the decree of the council of ministers №153/28.07.2000. There exists the idea that the library is a conservative institution. But because of its many-sided activities, the Regional library “Stilian Chilingirov” refutes this. Today the library is community accessible, a depositary and a methodical centre for Shumen district. It is a member of the Bulgarian library-informational association. Over the last years it has established itself as a modern and dynamic developing cultural institution, a partner in various projects and programs on regional, national and international level. The library preserves processes and provides access to the national publications; it tracks down, investigates and guards our spiritual heritage, its unique collections which reflect the existence and the cultural development of the region. The library owns a fund that is rich in size and thematic diversity (2012 – 751 000 library units), including precious collection of rare and incunabular books, as well as different formats of information carriers. The automation of the library-technological processes began in 1993. A local computer network with a specialized library software was built. The library has its own website – in 2005 www.libshumen.org. and the first children’s library website in the country– in 2006 www.libshumen.org/do. The information bases of the library are available on the Internet. As a result of the inclusion of the Regional library in the project “Association of Bulgarian Leaders and Entrepreneurs” in 2006, financed by the State Department in USA, a community-informational centre was developed in the library. In November 2006 a “Digital studio” was opened – second in the country after the National library Cyril and Methodius. Its creation was made possible after winning the project “Protecting the historical documents” by programme SPA. As a result of its work more than 1500 books from the library’s fund, as well as a number of newspaper copies, published in the XIX century have been digitalized. This gives the opportunity for the old publications to be preserved and at the same time the user’s access to their information to be expanded and facilitated. The library also develops active publishing work that includes printing preparation of bibliographies and other editions, accomplished by the library staff – the catalogue “Incunabula: Literature of the Bulgarian national revival 1806 – 1878”, the bibliography “Stilian Chilingirov 1881 – 1962”,the bibliographic index “Duke Boris I”, the books “Tasty art”, “Laugh, laugh little eyes!” and others. In 2007 a new form of methodical work made by Regional libraries in the country was realized –an integrated automated library informational net between the Regional library and the libraries in five national community centers in Shumen: the National community centre “Dobri Voinikov”, National community centre “Todor Petkov”, National community centre “Stilian Chilingirov”, National community centre “Asen Zlatarov” and National community centre “Boyan Penev” was created. Over the last years the library’s staff has worked on many long-term programs in the sphere of cultural novelties and children and youth care – “Nobel laureates in literature”, “Save the children on the street”, “Literary itinerary of the Bulgarian national revival”, “Summer children art workshop” and others. The leading staff of the library plays an important role in its good organization and development. After Vasil Klasanov’s retirement, the first regular librarian and organizer, the library was managed by teachers and socially active people – Pandora Stefanova, Zdravko Slivkov, Toncho Angelov, Pavel Pekarek, Rozka Hristova, Dimitar Zhelezov, Nedka Laleva, Ekaterina Yanacheva, Zdravka Kukusheva and during the past years – Krasimira Aleksandrova. Throughout the years of its existence the Regional library “Stilian Chilingirov” has gained the respect of Shumen citizens, who has taken it as an essential part of the cultural area of the town, a temple of science and wisdom. Today the library is a modern, widely open and accessible culture-informational institution, a host to exhibitions, concerts, gatherings with artists, presenting the international panorama of the mountaineering cinema (2007 – 2009), of the National cultural feasts “Albena” and others. With its tendency to answer the changing spiritual needs of the citizens, it is one of the leading libraries in the country. The prizes that have been earned in different periods are evidence for this –the medal “Red flag of labour” (1972), the Shumen’s prize for art and culture in 1997, 2006, 2009, Charter by the Ministry of culture for the contribution to the development of the Bulgarian culture in 2007, the national prize “Hristo Danov” in 2008. Created as a national book depository, the library has remained loyal to its mission to keep and spread knowledge eighty for seven years.

Kalina Nikolova