04.07.2014

Author: Stefan Plesoianu

The history of the public reading at the sea coast - Part 4: The regional central library

There is no doubt that a turning point in the development of the city library was in 1951, when it becomes to function after “The Regulation of the regional central libraries” that specified: “The regional central library is organized in every region’s capital, by transforming and enlarging the greatest library and by its passing, with all the inventory and budget, in the patrimony of the region’s administration”. The regulation is enforced by the Decision of the Council of Ministers nr. 1542/1951; this document, of a great importance for organizing the public libraries, gave a great significance to the book “in the work of mass education for the forming of the socialist conscience of the workers” and had a specific goal in the total control of the state on the circulation of the books (the elimination or hiding of the titles that were not accepted by the communist party, the centralization of the public libraries’ system, the unification of the statistic evidence in all the systems of libraries).
 
             Having, as a cultural institution of regional interest (removed now in the building from Banescu’s house, in 110 Tomis boulevard), a more consistent budget, the library increased in personnel, in order to deal with the activity of methodological guidance of the public libraries in the Constantza region, and enriched its publications collections for answering the demands of the growing city population. At the end of 1952, it had over 30000 volumes and registered 2030 readers who had borrowed 24517 publications.
 
             The public relations department contained a borrowing section, a reading room with 16 seats and a literature branch for kids. In the city departments, the activity expands with the help from women organizations or from party youth branches, by setting up house libraries. On the ships it is organized the system of the mobile libraries; in 1955, these had 436 volumes and registered 250 readers. In that year, the book fund reached 40000 volumes.
 
             Two years later (1957), activated 110 house libraries, reporting 4682 readers, with 32600 books consulted (over all, the library of Constantza registered 10881 readers and 124490 books consulted). Meanwhile, the library acted professionally, on the vertical: it is set up a musical branch and starts to develop bibliographic activity (bibliographer Alexandru Hristu, who did also the methodical guidance in the city branches).
 
             Within the efforts for becoming a modern institution was important the introduction of the publications’ borrowing after the system of free access to the shelves (October 1957), a method already in use in the great libraries of the country. Though there were not good conditions for applying that method – the space for the 20000 volumes of the borrowing section was too small (only 3 rooms), the circulation was hardly, there were not tables for consulting the reference books, there was no wardrobe, the readers could not been overviewed – it was successful; if in October 1957 there were 24325 books consulted / borrowed, in October 1958 it was a major increase: 42186 consulted volumes, and until the end of that year the number reached 51363 volumes. The fund of publications was systematically organized (after the system of the Universal Decimal Classification), with indicators and shelf signs. The manager was then Gheorghe Popescu.
 
             The process of diversification of the library services continues, proof of a professional growing up: it is opened the technical section (1961); the public is informed by the newspaper “Dobrogea noua” July 27, 1961) that “The regional central library will give assistance on various specialty themes, at demand, and will do the asked bibliographies.” For this purpose, a number of engineers and technicians of various specialties from industry and agriculture will cooperate with the library staff. The new section program: daily from 13 to 20 hours.
 
             Another achievement of those years: the arrangement of a reading room (with the deposit of unique books) with 43 places in the building from 24 Ferdinand bd. It functioned a few years (1958 – 1963).
 
             The activity development determines the local authorities to give a new building to the library, at 7 bis Ferdinand bd. (after moving the printing factory from there). After modernizing the whole building, the library manager, Alexandru Hristu now, an imaginative professional, realizes a good division of the available space. The spaces for the library were the following: the basement of 200 squared meters for the book deposits; the ground floor of 170 squared meters for the adults borrowing section; the first floor, prepared for hosting a reading room of 160 squared meters with 96 places and a book deposit of 50 sq. m. At the second floor were the technical services (cataloguing, bibliographic, methodic) and the administration. The decoration was realized by professional artists from Constantza (two wall paintings made by Silviu Baias and portraits of some great Romanian and foreign writers made by Edith Orlowski). The modern furniture was especially built for the best functionality of a cultural institution. After what, on the western exterior wall of the building, was realized a huge map of antique Dobrogea, in mosaic, by the Archaeology Museum specialists, the library became a cultural objective of major importance of the city. Along the years (from 1965 the manager was Dumitru Constantin Zamfir) there were added other improvements for realizing a better functionality of the spaces and for the best valuing of collections and services. A great step forward was the built of a special elevator for books’ circulation between deposits and reading rooms. After the leaving of the art and culture Regional Committee from the third floor, in that space were installed the technical services and at the second floor was set up a reading room for youth, with 52 seats; near this one, the special collections and musical section was installed, as well as the reading room for microfilms (2 places). As the readers took themselves the books from the desk, in the main reading room was installed an electric panel to announce, by a light, the number of the place that got the books from the deposit, so the reader could come and take them.
 
             At that time the library presented itself as a functional, efficient book institution.
 
             In 1964 was set up the documentary section, with a fund of thousands of titles (books edited before 1948, foreign books, rare books – most of them coming from The State Book Fund and from Bucharest, Cluj or Saliste, from booksellers or individuals).
 
             The cultural opening after 1964, the growing quality of the public schools of all grades, the development of the Pedagogical Institute of Constantza increased the need of information; the reading rooms were full of young people willing for knowledge, after two decades of dogmatism.
 
             In 1968, after the administrative reorganization of the country (no more regions, counties are set up), the library from Constantza becomes again a municipal library. The municipal administration decides a drastic personnel cut (30%).
 
             The structure of the library before that dramatic cut was:
  1. The service for completing and organizing the collections, with its main attribution in the development and the professional organization of the collections of publications;
  2. The bibliographic information service, aiming for developing the local Dobrogean bibliography;
  3. The service for accessing the collections – both the borrowing section and the reading rooms;
  4. The methodological service ensured the professional guidance for the public libraries of the region;
  5. The administrative service.
             As the County Committee for Culture could not deal with the methodological problems of the county public libraries, the county rulers decided that the activity of completing the collections of those libraries should be done by the municipal library, being given to it the necessary budgetary funds. For this purpose, it was set up a county deposit for books in the Palazu Mare district, for collecting books and distribute them to the libraries in need.

Bibliography:

  • “The book and the reading at the Pontus Euxinus” – Constantza, Ex Ponto, 2006
  • “The Romanian sea coast at 1900” (C. Cioroiu, M. Moise) – Constantza, Europolis, 1997
  • “Communications and essays of bibliology” – Constantza, 1999

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