A short history

The University Library “St. Kliment Ohridski” is the first university and the largest scientific library in Bulgaria. It offers services that combine traditional and contemporary technologies, which makes it a modern library, information, cultural and educational center. Established simultaneously with the School of Higher Education in Sofia in 1888, the library still plays an important role in the development of Bulgarian science and education.
The first Rector Alexander Teodorov-Balan put on the university’s agenda the immediate task of creating a library that should satisfy the needs for scientific literature of teachers and students. Working with zeal and dedication Alma mater founders undertoook the hard task of collecting basic writings in the field of humanities and natural sciences to the fullest extent possible as a prerequisite for the future development of the Bulgarian science.
The University Library was first located in a room within the premises of the First Secondary School for Men on Moskovska street 49, which itself accommodated the Higher School.

The original library collection consisted of 2,577 titles in 4,243 volumes. It was formed by donations of doublets of books and periodicals by the National Libraries in Sofia and Plovdiv, the library at the School Association “Find Yourself” of the Petropavlovsk Seminary in Lyaskovets, as well as donations from various Bulgarian booksellers and publishing houses. 

Substantial funds were allocated during the first academic year to increase the library holdings soon comprising 6,661 volumes. At the beginning of the second academic year the first reading room was opened. 

In 1889 Prof. Ljubomir Miletich from the History and Philology Faculty was appointed Chief Librarian of the library. In 1899 a Library Council was established and the next year the first Regulations of the University Library were adopted. Under the guidance of Prof. Miletich the library holdings increased and enriched very fast compared to other libraries.

From April 1903 till 1936 director of the University Library was Stoyan Argirov. His dedicated activity for 33 years had a beneficial effect on the proper and modern development of the Library. He was very active in the development of the catalog system of the University Library as a main prerequisite for the provision of modern library and information services. He led and actively participated in the creation of alphabetical and classified catalogs of the library. The alphabetical catalog was created according to German instructions, which, modified and expanded, were used till 1950. He developed his own analytical classification scheme for the classified catalog that was used many years by all scientific libraries in Bulgaria. Stoyan Argirov was also the first to implement the cataloguing card system of Staderini - Internationally accepted card format 9/11 cm, changed into 7.5/12.5 cm in 1938 .

Stoyan Argirov and his cataloguing and librarian activities made the University Library a modern European Library for its time. He was the first director who had classes of Library sciences at Sofia University he was author of many Library and bibliographical papers.

At the celebrations of the 130th anniversary of Acad. Stoyan Argirov’s birth the Academic Council decided to name the Reading-room for lecturers “Acad. Stoyan Argirov”.

The First World War interrupted the normal development of the University Library. The acquisition was very low. The receiving of monographs and periodicals stopped. There were gaps in many series. The managerial staff tried to overwhelm the crisis by exchanging publications with other European countries. The Annual of Sofia University (the first one was published in 1905) was exchanged with similar publications of the European Universities. These were the first contacts with foreign libraries. This form of collaboration is still active.

The consistently acquisition of new Bulgarian publications began in 1925 when the University Library became the third depository Library in the country which collected and preserved the Bulgarian literary heritage.

Between the two World Wars the holdings of the Library increased considerably. Special attention was given to the acquisition of bibliographic publications. During this period many distinguished Bulgarian scientists donated their private collections to the University Library. These are the collections of Boyan Penev (1868-1927), Prof. Ivan Shishmanov (1862-1928), Prof. Raiko Goranov (1869-1940), Acad. Atanas Ishirkov (1868-1937), Acad. Ljubomir Miletich (1863-1937), Prof. Anton Shourek (1857-1926), Mara Belcheva (1868-1937) etc. The donation became tradition. Donations are still received from foundations, universities, embassies, lecturers, students etc.

If we study the increasing of holdings: at the end of 1909 – 38 909 volumes and 280 journal titles, in 1912 – 80 000 volumes books and 510 journal titles, 1930 – 170 000 volumes, we see that the little place at Moskovska street was not enough for the needs of the library. In 1906 a competition was announced for the construction of a building to house the University Library. The French architect Breason won it. He had to erect a two-floor building in the yard of the king’s manege on Shipka street. The decision was cancelled later and instructions were given to Breason to adapt the last floor of the Central University building for the Library.

The efforts of Acad. Stoyan Argirov led to the announcement of a new competition and the construction of the first specialized library building in Bulgaria began and in the beginning of 1931. It was designed by the famous architects Iv. Vasiliov and D. Tzolov. The new building of the University Library opened in December 1934 and it was declared a cultural monument.

The Second World War stopped the work of the Library. Part of its holdings and catalogs were evacuated in January 1944. The reading-rooms were closed. During the bombard in March 1944 15 000 volumes were destroyed. The Library opened again for its users in 1945.

During the 50 years was formed the contemporary appearance of the University Library. Decade after decade the efforts of the directors: Kiril Seizov (1936-1945), Asen Kovachev (1945-1952), Iordan Bratkov (1952-1955), Nikola Chervenkov (1956-1975), senior research associate Stefan Kanchev (1975-1990) and Prof. Zheliazko Stoyanov (1990-2001), the contemporary managerial staff and the Library professionals are working to fulfill of the main mission of the Library – to insure the Library and scientific and information servicing of lecturers, specialists, students and staff of the University, as well as the outside users. Its realizing will ensure the accomplishment of other tasks of the University Library: to insure the scientific acquisition with multidisciplinary collections according to the development policy and the missions of the Sofia University; to preserve Bulgarian literary production as depository Library from 1925. It is depository for more of the publications of OUN from 1968. The Library coordinates its activities with other libraries, Library networks and information sections; participates in various systems for InterLibrary Loan; performs scientific and investigative activities in the field of Library science, bibliography and information science; creates bibliographic and information databases and publications; organizes user courses in Library science and information science; it is an educational base for the students from the speciality Library and information sciences; supports the automated Library and information system and forms a collection of reference and bibliographical materials.

Университетска библиотека "Св. Климент Охридски" 2014