According to the information from the 1st January 2011 the National Library stores 7 753 188 library units /including the Archive of the Bulgarian literature/. There are 1 714 211 volumes of books; 1 367 487 serials /including for the Archive of the Bulgarian Book/; 209 490 graphic documents; 12 991 maps; 5 547 manuscripts; 3 124 974 archival documents; 5 889 electronic documents; 17 electronic data bases. The formation of the library collections is a result of professional selection and acquisition of documents in Bulgarian and in other languages.
The history of the collections of the National Library of Bulgaria could be divided in three periods.
First period: from the establishment of the National Library to the end of the World War II.
In 1883 in Principality of Bulgaria was adopted the Law of the press. Article 43 of this Law declares: „The publishers of periodical and non-periodical journals and any other printed books have to send free of charge two copies of them in the National Library of Sofia”.
In 1897 was adopted the Law of deposit of printed editions in the national libraries. This law is related to the name of Konstantin Velichkov, at that time Minister of the national education.
The first foreign editions were donations from private persons, charity organizations, universities and other organizations. Publications in different languages joined the collections of the National Library – Russian, French, German, Serbian, Romanian, Greek etc. Konstantin Irechek first tried to define the characteristics of the collections of foreign books. He made this is his „Instruction on managing the Bulgarian National Library” (1884). In this document he indicated which kinds of materials have to be supplied: Balkanica and Bulgarica, all classical fictions and scientific works, all basic works and reference editions in all sciences.
During this first period the acquisition of foreign collections was very instable and spontaneous.
Second period: from the end of the World War II to 1989.
In 1945 was adopted a new Law of the deposited copy (Instructional law of deposit of printed and lithographic works in the national libraries and institutes). This law defined that the National Library had to receive 6 deposited copies.
For this period the development of scientifically grounded criteria for the acquisition of foreign books and serials was very important. This development was a result from a long discussion about the branch characteristic of all the collections. The statement that the library collections are universal prevailed. The main purpose was to supply completely the most important and valuable scientific and reference editions in different European languages.
The approach to the acquisition of foreign periodicals was nearly the same. Their size grew very quickly and reached over 10 000 titles. The majority of the publications were in social and technical sciences. This was a result from the quick development of the scientific and technical progress and also from the role of the National Library in this process.
During this period started the International Library Loan service. The service became one of the most important ways for delivering foreign literature, especially for editions with limited distribution. In the end of 80’s the National Library had nearly 1 000 partners for International Library Loan in all over the world.
Third period: after 1990.
In 2001 was adopted the new Law of the compulsory deposit of printed and other types of publications. According to this law the National Library has to receive 2 deposit copies.
The transition to market economy, as well as the economical crisis, highly influenced the development of the collections of foreign books and periodicals. The finances, provisioned in the budget for all these activities, were drastically reduced.
After a searching secondary selection the foreign books and serials were cleaned from the unnecessary propaganda literature in many copies in Russian and other languages, children literature etc.
The financial stagnation and stabilization of the central scientific libraries in Sofia required giving a new meaning to the development of the collections of foreign books and periodicals. The National Library reduced the acquisition of agricultural, technical and medicine scientific literature. For all the readers was provided access to electronical databases.
The service International Library Loan became the main way for supplying foreign books and serials. The donations were also very important for the collection’s enrichment. The whole share of acquired Bulgarian and international materials also rose very much thanks to the participation in different projects.
Content and structure of the collections
The National Library works to possess completely all types of documents, published in Bulgaria in Bulgarian and other languages. Priority editions in foreign languages are: classical works in the field of science, culture and literature; works, which have received any authoritative international and national awards; materials from scientific congresses and symposia; Bulgarica, Balkanica and Slavica; first editions of fictions from classical and contemporary authors.
The priority branches for acquisition of foreign books and serials are: mathematics, philosophy, social sciences, law, economics, politics, sociology, international relations, history (mainly modern and most modern), culture, science, library science, bibliographical science and scientific information, book science, science of countries, science of art, linguistics, theory of literature and fiction. The National Library pays lots of attention to different fields of knowledge, like: social linguistics, cognitive sciences, anthropology, political science etc.
The Bulgarian and foreign books and periodicals in the National Library are registered in:
– the traditional card catalogues of the library collections and the union catalogues of the collections of the big scientific libraries;
– the automated catalogue of the foreign books (from 1992 to present), accessible through the library website;
– the automated union catalogues of the foreign periodicals (from 1984 to present) and of the foreign books (from 1995 to present) for the big scientific libraries, accessible through the library website;
– Foreign periodicals in the bigger scientific libraries in Bulgaria – printed union catalogue of the foreign periodicals, published from 1900 to present;
– Bulletin for new books in foreign languages (from 1954 to present, 12 books per year) – printed edition in two branch series: Series A. Social sciences and humanities; Series B.Natural and applied sciences. Medicine. Technics. Agriculture;
– an Alphabetical catalogue of the books in Latin, received in the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library from 1878 to 1977: A-C In 3 volumes Sofia, St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library, 1981-1983.
Access to the library collections:
The collections of foreign books and periodicals could be used without restrictions by all the readers, but only in the library reading rooms.
Readers out of Sofia and the country could use the library materials through the International Library Loan service.