Author: Stefan Plesoianu

The history of the public reading at the sea coast - Part 5: Since 1973 – a county library

An important role in the library evolution had the Decree 703/1973, regarding the structural unitary norms for the educational – cultural institutions. The article 8 said: “The county library is organized in every county capital and it is led by a manager. This library ensures services for the population of that city, as well as specialty guidance for the public libraries of the county…” From this moment on the library from Constantza becomes a county library.
             The activity of the Constantza County Library became a vivid presence, important in the spiritual life of the city and of the county, both by ensuring the public reading services for a great city (after the sixth decade the population increased explosively, reaching over 300000 inhabitants) and by the great number of cultural and scientific activities. In the system of the county libraries, the library by the sea was in the first line for its high activity level and performance. But the old problem of the capacity of the library to face the development level of the collections appeared again. So the local administration, being convinced of the opportunity of the existence of this institution in the cultural context of the community, decide that the spaces of the Bishop’s Palace will be taken by the library, after moving the Archaeology Museum in the Mayor’s Palace from the old town. The Bishop’s Palace was an old building of the Constantza Archiepiscopate, built by the architect D. Enescu in 1925 just near the Cathedral “Saint Peter and Paul” and it was given for use in 1949, for a period of 60 years, to the local administration of Constanta.
             But there was a problem: the building was not functional, though with generous spaces, and, being placed in the extreme south of the city, just near the Casino, far away from the populated districts, it would been made difficult the access, especially for the borrowing sections. So that with the guidance of the specialists from the National Library and with the local administrators’ approval the decision was made to let the borrowing services and the children section still in the building from Ferdinand Boulevard and in the former Bishop’s Palace to be moved the reading rooms, the deposits, the technical services, the bookbinding and the administration. In that conditions of segmentation of the activities in two different sites there were advantages and disadvantages. The advantages were: it could been created a good frame for the quality reading, by organizing the rooms on domains or by specialization; the catalogues room expanded and a reference room was created; the exhibition space was very much enlarged; it was set up a conference room with 80 places; by arranging in the reading rooms of the correspondent book funds it was made free a part of the deposit spaces in the basement (which had a reduced capacity of growing). Disadvantages: the long distance from the city center and from the populated districts may discourage the users; the breaking of the technical services and of the informational system in two great sections (borrowing and children) can make a real problem for completing and communicating the collections. Anyway, the advantages were superior, because it was resolved the main problem: the activity suffocation because the lack of space; meanwhile, the new organizing made richer the library prestige, as an institution of great importance in the spiritual life of the community.
             The Constantza library had now a useful surface of 3200 square meters. The new building was completely renovated, starting with the roof and ending with the basement and was adapted to a modern library functionality.
             In the year of the moving (1980), the library registered a fund of 350000 publications, 22000 enlisted readers and 500000 consulted publications. But the decade that followed was not a very good one for the public reading because of the economic hard situation and of the severe austerity regime… After 1989, when the humanistic disciplines had a strong revival, when it was set up the “Ovidius” University and the Maritime University and when appeared the alternative of the private universities, when there were given substantial funds for the book acquisitions, the dynamic of the main traditional activity indicators was remarkable: the library had, at the end of 1991, when it celebrated six decades from the setting up, 530000 bibliographic items, registered 30000 readers and almost one million consulted publications.
             The events in December 1989 opened for Romania the road of rediscovering the traditions and of entry into normality, by recognizing and guarantying the right of propriety. The setting up of the Archiepiscopate of Constantza put the County Library in a delicate situation: the clericals demanded the right to use their own building. The compromise they reach in the negotiations was that the county library will give half of the building to the Archiepiscopate, while the local public administration promises to build a new local for the library. The decision of the prefect’s office gives for the construction of the new objective a piece of land of 6565 square meters, with accords from the Ministry of Culture and from the Mayor’s Office. The construction will be started by the Constantza County Council in 1991.
             The project, based on a substantial documentation made by the library manager, Constantin Dumitru Zamfir, was realized by the architects Petre and Paula Pintilescu, the construction being done by COM C.M., with an ending target of 18 months. The start was good, but the lack of money made the work to be interrupted. The moving of the county library to various buildings in the city was a bad idea. The construction restarts, by 1997 being almost ready, but again the work are stopped. In this atmosphere the Constantza County Library celebrates the centennial of the “Ovidiu” literary Club from Constantza. 
             At this festivity it was spoken about the problem of the never ending new building of the county library; the participants appreciated, meanwhile, the good intentions of the county management of building a new local for the library in the difficult conditions of a transition economy. In february 1998, Liliana Lazia is named manager of the book institution and she assumes the finalization of the construction and the moving of the library in the new spaces. For making these possible, the president of the county council, Stelian Dutu, take the measures needed.
             The inauguration of the new building took place on November 30 1998, on the day of Saint Andrew, the patron of Dobrogea. The official opening was on December 1, dedicated to the Romania’s National Day, in the presence of local administrators, of culture people, of various guests and users. The building has 5 reading rooms, specialized borrowing sections for adults and children, a general deposit at the basement and a conference room with 150 seats. These are completed by the generous exhibition spaces from the great halls from the ground floor and the first and the second floor.
             The county authorities understand to sustain the county library as it is a true knowledge dissemination center in the whole community, considering the best investment to be the one in the culture.
             Being a public library of encyclopedic profile, the „Ioan N. Roman” Constantza County Library addresses to all categories of people, trying, by its collections of publications and through the diversifying and modernizing of the services, to respond to the informational needs of all the members of the community. Of its patrimony values we can mention: „Liber Chronicarum” (Nurnberg 1493), the creation of Ovidius in 3 volumes (Frankfurt 1601), Cicero – „Orationes” (Venezia 1547), Lucanus – „De bello civili” (1569), „The New Testament” (Balgrad 1648).
             A national project, „Biblionet – the world in my library” had a major impact in the last 5 years on the public libraries from Constantza county, a number of 36 of them being included in the generous programme financed by „The Bill and Melinda Gates” Foundation from U.S.A. Not only the donated computers or the facilitation of the free access to Internet in the libraries, but also the training courses for the local librarians and the  permanent education sessions for the citizens have made from Biblionet the most successful cultural project in the system of the public libraries from Romania.
             The story of the Constantza library continues, the information and the culture education will be permanently accessible to all the people of the community. And many years from now this institution, being in a permanent change and adapting itself to the informational needs of the modern people, will remain a true value reference point in the community.


  • “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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