ioakim gruevOn January 2, 1879, the first entry was made in the first inventory book of the repository of the Directorate of the National Enlightenment in Eastern Rumelia. Only a quarter of a century after the creation of this oldest cultural institute in southern Bulgaria, Boris Dyakovich noted: “Two are the main founders of the Plovdiv Library and Museum: the much deserved patriot Ioakim Gruev and our legendary statesman Petko Karavelov. I. Gruev, as director of the public education in Eastern Rumelia, aware of the high importance of libraries and museums for the development of the national education and led by the sacred feelings of our old patriots, by law, established the first state library in southern Bulgaria and the first Bulgarian museum. P. Karavelov, as a Plovdiv mayor, got a place to be donated for the building of this establishment so very sympathetic to him. Indeed, the place was donated and the building was built, but it was designated to serve as a parliament in Eastern Rumelia. Fortunately, the events prevented the realization of the will of the Plovdiv Mayor P. Karavelov and his advisors, so on March 15, 1886, under the explicit order of the Minister-President of the United Bulgaria, P. Karavelov, the office was transferred to the new building. No obstacles on the part of the Plovdiv military and civil authorities, who wanted to occupy the building and even succeeded in the revolution and the war to intervene in it, did not deviate the decision of the powerful patron of our institution.”

The collection of books for the future library began at the very beginning of 1879, and its organization (as a repository at the beginning) of the Directorate of National Enlightenment with clarified purpose and functions took place in the second half of 1879, immediately with the settlement and consolidation of the East-Rumelian government. The preserved 16 sheets of Register of various books that have been placed in the Library – the first inventory book – have registered 286 books. The first promulgated document, which concerns the newly created library and museum, “District No 42”, dated 30 June 1880, on “search and retrieval of antiquities”, YOAKIM GRUEV orders the Prefects and County Chambers to cooperate to return freely or rewarding the founded antiquities: “Taken from such considerations, the Directorate of the National Enlightenment honored for its position to take care on time the following measures: on the one hand, to found in Plovdiv a Museum for antiquities, where to gather for free or for remuneration as much as possible antiquities found until now, such as: manuscripts, coins, inscriptions, remnants of clothing, weapons, implements, vessels, stoneware and metallic items, petals etc. (...) Periodicals presented to the Museum are published in the newspapers together with the names of their donors.”. In response from the beginning of 1880, the Directorate started to make donations. In his report to East Rumelia's Chief Governor, Ioakim Gruev notes: “One of the most useful institutions and the powerful means of disseminating the public enlightenment are public libraries. From the beginning of the current administration, the Directorate has been able to lay the foundations of a district library and a museum. This library has since acquired a modest amount of books over the summer, putted itself under a particular government, and opened on September 15 this year to the audience.”

Along with the donations, Gruev provides in the budget of the National Enlightenment also funds for the purchase of books and antiquities. For the

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 1880/1881 academic year, the budget of the East Rumelia Administration accounts for 56,000 groshes – 6,000 groshes for books and 500,000 groshes for collection and discovery of antiquities. Antiquities include also manuscripts and old-printed books (Slavic and foreign). For 1881 and 1882 the book budget again consisted of 6,000 groshes, and for the antiquities it dropped to 34,000. In the same year funds were allocated for the library's stationary expenses. In 1882/1883, the budget grew significantly and reached 200,000 groshes.

In 1881, the Directorate of Internal Affairs of the East-Rumelian Government drafted a “Bill on Freedom of the Press” with Chief Secretary Gavrail Krustevich. Proposed Art. 3, “When publishing any printed matter, the publisher is obliged to give two copies of the Directorate of Enlightenment, otherwise he will be punished with a fine of 15–200 groshes”, is the first initiative for the legislative settlement of the deposit of Bulgarian literature in the country proving the state wisdom and foresight of the founders to lay strong foundations of the district library.

In 1881 PETKO KARAVELOV arrives in Plovdiv and actively participates in the public life of Eastern Rumelia. In the period 1883–1884 he was the mayor of the town. In 1881/1882 and 1884/1885 school years he was a teacher at the Plovdiv Men's High School. The prominent public man provides his inquisitive pupils with his rich personal library. At the end of 1881 Karavelov made the first major order of books in English for the Plovdiv National Library and thus formed a significant part of the core of the library fund. In the archive of the library there is an invoice kept by the company “Nikolaus Tübner”, issued on 22 April 1882 with 324 titles in 429 volumes. The fact that the Prime Minister of the Principality made the first order for the library in Plovdiv is a precedent in the history of acquisition and in the history of librarianship in general. The breadth of bibliographic selection and in-depth scientific awareness demonstrate the importance of the contract and convincingly represent the Plovdiv National Library in the National Literary Fund.

On May 1, 1882, the Eastern Rumelian Government issued the “Public Administrative Regulations for the Structure and Governance of the District Libraries and Museums”, signed by Governor-General Alexander Bogoridi. The library and the museum are placed under the authority of the Directorate of National Enlightenment. The official opening of the new establishment was on September 15, 1882. On September 25, 2004, Alexander Bashmakov, the first director of the library, signed the Announcement: "It is announced to all those honorable Gentlemen who visit the Library that they need to conform with the following rules:

1. Every visitor, when he enters the Library, receives a visitor list he will keep until he leaves it.
2. Every new reader is obliged to acquire from the Library Office an annual ticket with the power of whom he can visit the Library until a new year.
3. The demand for books for greater silence becomes written; on the tables of the reading room there are constantly special tickets (demand sheets), which the visitor can always use according to the way shown in them.
4. When a visitor requests a book, he, along with his request, gives to the functionary his own visitor's list, signed in advance by him. Visitor's List constantly accompanies the books written on it.
5. Talking with voice, smoking tobacco and others is strictly forbidden in the Library.
Governor of the Regional Library and Museum:
Alexander Bashmakov
Planting, 25 Sep. 1882”

On 1 January 1883, ILIYA YOVCHEV was appointed Director of the Regional Library and Museum, replacing Bashmakov's resignation. In this post he remained until the beginning of 1887.

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Yovchev's credit for the careful and comprehensive acquisition of the Bulgarian printed production is a great merit given the lack of a law on the obligatory deposit referring to the whole printed production in Bulgaria. As a result of his careful attitude towards the enrichment of the funds, in 1884 some 1544 new items were received. At the end of the same year, the Fund reached 10093 volumes. At that time Hristo G. Danov, Ivan Evstatiev Geshov, Dragan Manchov donated to the library significant collections of old printed and new Bulgarian books.
STOYAN ARGIROV, philologist, librarian and bibliographer, is the director of the Plovdiv National Library in the period 1894–1901. Although with a limited budget, he provides the complete delivery of the Bulgarian printed production, fundamental publications and foreign language guides. In the Plovdiv Library he works under the Rules of National Libraries in Sofia and Plovdiv and issues a Guide for the Settlement of National, Municipal, Student and Private Libraries – the first librarianship's work in Bulgaria. In 1896–1897 he wrote the first systematic catalog of the library, which he called methodical. For the first time he introduced a catalog of cardboard fiches for readers. Here is the translation of Konstantin Irechek's book “Travels alongside Bulgaria”, published in 1899 in a volume of 943 pages.

The library's first book-exchange links date back to 1909 with the Odessa City Public Library, the Chisinau City Library, the Oxford University Library, the Göttingen University Library, the Berlin Royal Library. To enrich the literary richness of the library, all forms of delivery are used: deposit, purchase, book exchange and donation. The acquisition is a main activity of the founders and organizers of the National Library in Plovdiv: Petko Karavelov, Nayden Gerov, Konstantin Velichkov, Alexander Bashmakov, Iliya Yovchev, Stoyan Argirov, Boris Diakovic.

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