"Ivan Vazov" Public Library - Plovdiv is the second biggest library in Bulgaria.
It functions as the second national depository of Bulgarian printed output. The Library has contributed significantly to preserving Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage.
It was founded in 1879 on the personal initiative and endeavours of Yoakim Gruev - an eminent figure of the Bulgarian National Revival, teacher and director of the Public Education Directorate in Eastern Roumelia at that time. Part of the premises of the Public Education Directorate wеrе designated for the first book depository. Thus the Regional Library and Museum of Eastern Roumelia came into being. After the Union of Eastern Roumelia with the Bulgarian Principality, legislation provided equal rights and duties for the two public libraries in Sofia and Plovdiv. As a result the Public Library in Plovdiv evolved as an archive of Bulgarian books and periodicals and a rich depository of manuscripts and Revival period literature. Rich collections of valuable editions, bibliographic rarities and foreign publications of books about Bulgaria were established. Of great significance for us was the Freedom of the Press Act passed in 1881, according to which the Library was entitled to receiving a copy of each publication in Eastern Roumelian. As a result, the library became the first depository library in Bulgaria and on the Balkans as well. Prominent figures such as Petko Karavelov, Konstantin Velichkov, Ivan Vazov, Zahari Stoyanov, Hristo G. Danov, Iliya Yovchev, etc. contributed greatly to the organization and development of the Library in its first years. Nowadays it is hard to imagine how much time and efforts were needed for the library to reach its present-day state. Up to 1956 it had one single building at its disposal. In the course of time it acquired more premises for book storage, book bindery, accounting and children’s departments. In 1974 the Library moved to a new, modern building, specially designed for its needs. That move enabled beneficial changes in the structure and organization of library activities that met the growing interest of its users and the rising role of libraries in society. Seven reading rooms with a total of 200 seats were set up, which allowed users to make use of the entire library collection. The reading rooms are specialized by fields of knowledge and contain reference and at-hand book stocks including the most sought after up-to-date publications in the specific field, as well as the current issues of subscribed periodicals. Assisted by the consultants in the reading rooms, users can access all databases in the local network and the Internet.
Today, 135 years after its establishment, Ivan Vazov Public Library is a large cultural and information centre that continues to enrich and build upon the traditions of its eminent founders. The legal deposit, the main and reserve book stocks are located in the 14-storey book storage in the same building. The modern structure and organization of the library enable the initiation of new activities and services matching the constantly changing needs of our users. The annual number of our users is about 11 000, their visits to the library - 130 000, and borrowed library materials amount to 350 000. The library has a rich universal collection of 1 460 000 library units including scientific materials, fiction, incunabula, rare and valuable editions, a rich reference book stock, Bulgarian and foreign periodicals, audio-visual materials, electronic publications, etc. The library has been maintaining exchange relations since 1886; our today’s exchange is with 60 libraries in 14 countries. Besides with the local government, the library cooperates with a number of Bulgarian and foreign partners, local cultural institutions such as the Archaeological and Ethnographic museums and the State Archive which are committed to the idea of collecting and preserving the public memory and cultural heritage. The library is one of the founders and active members of the Bulgarian Library and Information Association.
Automation of library and information processes began as early as 1979 when a constructive team developed a modern for the time being system of automated information service for library users. A local computer network under Windows was set up in the library in 1994. In 2003 we switched to Linux, the computer net itself was changed and the number of automated workstations was increased. Now they are over 110. The use of cable Internet since 2003 allowed the introduction of a remote reference service through e-mail. The WiFi areas in the Community Information Centre and the reading-rooms provide free access to wireless Internet. Electronic catalogues (accessible online) of library documents acquired after 1996 are being maintained, which allow users to check themselves the availability of materials in the library. We also have an electronic catalogue of the incunabula, rare and valuable editions in our holdings, in which the library takes great pride.
Ivan Vazov Public Library is a leader in the result-oriented and versatile work with literature and materials in the field of arts. CDs, DVDs and reproductions of famous works of art are in active circulation. The cultural programme of the library includes club activities, cinema and video lectures, musical and educational series, exhibitions, meetings with artists, writers, etc. The film collection of over 600 feature films and screen versions of Bulgarian and foreign classic works is used for educational purposes. Our library was among the first cultural institutions to appreciate the significance of regional studies and sеt up a Regional Studies department. The continuous efforts in this respect have enriched considerably our library holdings and now we have unique regional studies collections and editions of posters, materials on collections and exhibitions of Plovdiv artists, photo- and audio materials from first night performances of the Public Theatre, Opera and Puppet Theatre of Plovdiv, projects of decorative and monumental works of Plovdiv painters, etc.