Being a Librarian Your Whole Life
"This is my first and only job," says Rumyana Popnikolova, who has worked at the library since 1986.
Popnikolova started working as a librarian after she got her degree in Bulgarian Philology and took a librarian course. She says she loves her job. "It’s peaceful, I learn a lot of new things whenever I get the chance. I get along very well with the people I work with and that is of great importance to me.”
She loves to read and has recently been more interested in psychology and how to work with people. “Communicating with people can be hard sometimes. It’s not hard when the person standing in front of you is treating you as you treat them. If you’re smiling at someone and he is frowning, angry, aggressive, arrogant, then it becomes really hard to communicate with that person.”
The Blagoevgrad Regional Library was established in 1953. It is the biggest one in western Bulgaria after the Sofia library. Since 2000, it has been one of the 11 regional libraries in Bulgaria. It is a deposit library, which means that it gets one free copy from all published editions with more than 300 printed copies.
The Storage Room
Here are stored all the books that have only one copy and cannot be taken out of the library premises.
Thousands of books are stored in the basement.
“The library can be called an outdated institution but at the same time it is also a contemporary one because this is the only institution where absolutely everyone is allowed to go in," Popnikolova says.
"It used to be located on another boulevard and in 1989 it was relocated. Absolutely everything was moved and placed in order by us, the people that worked there at that time. We didn’t get any extra help.”
The library has four floors and is located on the right-hand side of the Main AUBG Building. It has a number of departments such as Acquisition and Cataloging, Book Loans, Art, Local History and the Children's department.
“When people thank me. When strangers greet me on the street. When students come after finishing their senior thesis and thank me for the way I helped them. This makes me feel satisfied and good about myself,” Popnikolova says.
“Nowadays, with the emergence of new technologies, people don’t come as much. However, not everything can be found on the Internet. It’s a different feeling to touch and smell the paper.”
Popnikolova shares that at least 150 people used to come and read every day. Now, the number is down to 40-50 people, according to her.
“In recent years, I find a huge difference in the culture of Bulgarians. It’s not just in the culture. We, Bulgarians, became a lot more reserved and distanced. Some parts of Bulgaria are desolate. Most young people went away, very few remained here," she says.
Veselina Stoitsova is another librarian who has been working in the library since 1984. She has graduated with a degree in Pedagogy and says the librarian profession is very different from the teaching one.
“It’s really peaceful. You get so much information and knowledge at your workplace,” Stoitsova says.
Local History Department
Stoitsova's reading preferences depend on her mood. She has read various genres and is currently interested in Bulgarian history. Newspapers dating back as far as 1945, can be found in the Local History department where she works. Most of the history of Blagoevgrad is collected and carefully stored in this department.
“I was dealing with the cataloging of literature in the library, I’m talking about the period before 1989, and there was this hunger for books in people. They waited in line and they were buying a lot of books through connections [It was hard to get quality things during the socialist time if you didn’t know the right people].”
“We went through some tough years here at the library. There was almost no financing at some point. We lost a lot of readers back then. It was really hard because there was not enough money, they were talking about lay-offs, but we managed to get through it. We survived. When I came to the library, 33 people were working, right now, we are 25-26 people currently working,” Stoitsova says.
“I’m a person who has worked in all departments of the library. The librarian profession gives the opportunity to work in all departments which is good because in every department the work is different. When I used to work in the Reading department there was this period when the library at the South-West University wasn’t working. All of the students came to us. We helped them a great deal with their senior theses. We were happiest when a student would come and tell us that he got an A thanks to our help. Whenever this happened, we rejoiced!”
“If we split the period in two: before 1989 and after, people used to really read a lot before 1989, including the children. Nowadays, young people only go around with the phones in their hands and turn less to books," Stoitsova says.
"Elderly people are our very good readers. They read often and they read a lot."
Books and Children
"We do everything that we can to bring back young readers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t," Stoitsova says.
Both Stoitsova and Popnikolova agree that young children are keen readers.
"We work best with children and there are a lot of events in the Children’s department. I dare to say that everyday children from local schools come here," Stoitsova says.
“It’s not true that children nowadays don’t read. I think it’s quite the opposite,” Popnikolova shares.
. . .
The "Regional Library Dimitar Talev - A Place Full of Books, History, and Many Stories" article is part of the "Dare to Share" JMC competition, organized by AUBG Daily. The piece was written by the AUBG student, Simona Todorova, who managed to secure the first place in the photo stories category. The aim of the competition is to expose the brilliant works of talented AUBG students and expand the realm of the university newspaper, AUBG Daily.
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