The St. St. Cyril and Methodius
National Library
Prof. Boryana Christova (Ph.D), director of the "St. St. Cyril and Methodius" National Library (CMNL) will explain what the situation of the National Library has been since 1989.

"It is not a secret that a society going through the challenges of transition usually "dismisses" its institutions. Unfortunately the National Library of Bulgaria happened to be one of them. The lack of a sound concept of the library system of contemporary Bulgaria, the lack of vision for the role of the CMNL in the present, has lead to a sequence of strategic mistakes. CMNL could be and should be a leading institution in the field of the cultural Euro-integration, because it is the potential partner for all European national libraries. It could also be a centre for the global development towards an information society and a factor in civil society development. In contrast, for more than 10 years now it has been leading a hard, humiliating struggle for survival."
Shortly the main problems can be summarized as follows:
1. Financing. The CMNL budget is not in compliance with the real needs and it is sometimes reduced down to mere personnel costs. In this situation it is ridiculous to design strategies and make concepts, when it seems that even the very existence of the institution is at stake. For example we can point out that the funds CMNL's receive are 14 times smaller than those of the Czech National Library, 7 times smaller when compared to the Polish one, 3 times smaller than the Slovenian one. A sorrowful balance showing that the Bulgarians, known for their genuine love of books and knowledge, have actually forgotten about this most significant institution. At the same time, it feels like there's a growing expectancy that the library finances itself. I am convinced that a national library can not be a profitable enterprise and it is actually not profitable anywhere in the world. The saying is right that whatever the state is like - the national library is the same. At the moment the CMNL even goes beyond the level of the state. Today our state does not deserve its national library. It is quite often that I address international sponsors for support. They answer negatively: "you are a main state institution, the government should take care of you, and we support non-governmental organisations".
2. Personnel. Many outstanding experts work at the CMNL. They perform very important and unique jobs: preparing the national bibliography, preparing information on Bulgarian and foreign books, publishing bibliographical reference books and manuals, following scientific research on documents in Bulgarian, oriental and other foreign languages from the Х till the ХХ century; following research on archives and documents, oldprinted books, old portraits and photographs, developing the problems of restoration and conservation of collections and many others. Unfortunately, the state is reluctant to assist in solving two major problems. The first one is remuneration. Salaries of the library workers are too low and that drives many young people away from the libraries. The second is that the team employed is constantly reduced whilst the amount of work increases.
3. Information technology. The CMNL can not fully realize its responsibilities unless it is well equipped with computers. At the moment there are 142 computers, some of them quite outdated. Not a single item of these computers or other electronic appliances has been bought against budgetary subsidy! Foundations and other institutions have donated some of them; some were received under exchange programmes or have been bought with own income! Never so far has the state budget made any provisions for software development or for access to information for readers. I recognize this to be a strategic mistake.
4. Legislation. In December 2000 the National Assembly adopted a new Law on Legal Deposit, which was absolutely timely and in favour of the CMNL and the regional libraries as well as in favour of the publishers. A Law on Libraries is still lacking in Bulgaria. Also there is no law (or a subnormative act) particularly on the CMNL, shaping a framework of the national responsibilities and priorities of this leading cultural institution.

K