Sunday, 1 December 2013

The immortal Christmas poster from USA. Our former sister library

Season's greetings from Golden branch of the Jefferson County Public Library, USA.

Christmas is mercilessly approaching. People put up festive decorations; Here at Sofia City Library we have got a permanent one. It has been given to us by Golden Public Library, USA, and it has been hanging above the door of the English & Portuguese reading room for several years now.

How come we have got a festive decoration from a library in Colorado, one that is almost 10.000 kilometres away from ours? Not a bad question.

Apparently, the said friendly library and our library had been 'sisters' for some years in the past. They used to exchange books, invite each other's staff over for visits, conferences and trainings, send each other Christmas greetings like the one pictured above.

It all started when, back in 1995, a Bulgarian librarian Iskra Mahailova went to the USA for five months to work at the Colorado State Library. There she met Nancy Bolt (pictured below) who turned out to be a Bulgaria enthusiast.  

Nancy Bolt, the initiator of the American-Bulgarian partnership. She remembers, in the early days of the friendship the Americans used to send video greetings to their Bulgarian colleagues as back then were still the pre-Skype times. Photo (c) Nancy Bolt.
Over the next few years Ms Bolt made repeated trips to Bulgaria: to visit her former colleague, to do a lecture tour, to take part in conferences. Partnerships were formed between various Bulgarian and Colorado libraries - one between Sofia City Library and Jefferson County Library was among the first.

Later a grant from the USA government was received for the ABLE (American-Bulgarian Library Exchange) project. Eighteen partnerships between American and Bulgarian libraries were covered; Bulgarian and American librarians were enabled to visit each others' countries.

''We also did training for 14 Bulgarian librarians on how to become a community information center and these librarians trained anther about 900 librarians'', Ms Bolt says.

The grant in the end was discontinued; some of the partnerships fell apart. Sofia City Library & Golden Library stopped their official sisterhood several years ago. However, some of the librarians have been keeping in touch and meeting informally.

Ms Bolt still goes to Bulgaria every year, usually in May so that she can attend the Rose Festival in Kazanlak. She participates in conferences in Bulgaria, gives trainings, stays in touch with some of Sofia City Library's staff, and is about to publish a paper at the BLIA* magazine on the changing role of the library.  

The Colorado librarians were pleased to know that Sofia City Library still has the poster.

* Bulgarian Library and Information Association.

Chestita Koleda.

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