Third Place Libraries in Bulgaria

Based on the task of conducting a study of the territory of Republic Bulgaria is the presence of third place libraries. After thoroughly researching and rationalizing the definitions of “third place libraries” we can conclude that they are libraries with a physical space reorganization. They own separate rooms in which a person can freely have a conversation, play games, visit exhibitions, participate in workshops, attend seminars, drink coffee or eat.

Third place libraries are inspired by marketing and intend to attract more visitors and readers. There are specially organized concerts and activities for children and they cooperate with different government and non-government organizations.

After conducting an online study and visiting libraries around the country, we came to the conclusion that most of the views on this type of libraries are similar to the ones stated in the aforementioned topic. A large number of libraries in Bulgaria organize activities such as book club readings by interests, exhibitions and many of the visitors use the provided internet services and entertainment for children. Libraries either have partnerships or work on projects independently, but there aren’t any separate rooms in which a person can drink coffee or eat and communicate this way with other people.

In Bulgaria a need for such kind of reorganized institutions can be hardly felt, because of the many  private bookstores and cafeterias in which a similar initiatives can be accomplished. One of the most common initiatives in our country are the so-called “bookcrossing” zones located in the central part of the cities and partially accordant to the recommendations of IFLA. The discrepancy here is that these zones do not belong to libraries, but are in fact private property and are situated mainly in cafeterias and restaurants.

These places allow the opportunity to exchange books. Every person can leave a book there for another person to take and read and after finishing it to return it so it could be in the hands of the next reader.

Bookcrossers create their own territory – virtual, they are members of an Internet society and share the same love – towards books, as well as physical – they make bookcrossing zones, places, where marked books are left with an identification number from the Internet site (bookcrossing identification number – BCID, unique for each book). These zones are marked with a traveling book, the trade mark of the bookcrossing movement. A crossing or a bookcrossing zone in Bulgaria are most often places whose owners or managers agree to have released books in. An example of such places are “Coffee House” and “Dada Cultural Club” which are situated in Bulgaria’s capitol, Sofia. The same type of institutions appears also in smaller cities such as Blagoevgrad. For example “Café Mafe”. Bookcrossing zones can be founded in the rest of big and small cities in the country and at the moment are a subject of research by Asst. Prof. Lubomira Parijkova, PhD (SULSIT) and a team of project “New politics for reading stimulation. Researching bookcrossing practices inBulgaria”. /

Other varieties of bookstores are the ones that everybody can browse through new published books with an addition to them such as a coffee-pastry shop. Such places in Sofiaare “Paper Cake” and “The Penguins” and “The Reading Room” in Blagoevgrad and others.

These bookstores can be visited by everybody who wants to learn the titles of new published books or maybe an older edition, have a cup of coffee or eat a delicious homemade dessert. These places can also be found in most of the big cities in Bulgaria.

The third option and possibly the one that is the closest to the description of the third place libraries is library-café “Budda House” located in Rousse. Like each of the aforementioned institutions this one also isn’t an official part of a library, but it’s storing an amount of over 2000 books.

In library-café “Budda House” every visitor can enjoy a wide variety of coffee drinks made of freshly roasted coffee which is made there and also a big selection of desserts. On the territory of the library-café are often organized activities such as exhibitions, presentations of new books, book club readings, children entertainment, concerts and others.

After close observations we can summarize the situation in Bulgaria the following way. The libraries in Bulgaria are rather an object of a serious and responsible attitude on the part of managers, employees and visitors. They are seen as major institutions and their territory is intended only for exhibitions, readings, workshops and readers are allowed to use the Internet.

Places for discussions and entertainment are rather an object of external institutions that do not belong to libraries and retain their autonomy.


Prepared by:

Christo Christov (4th year, Information Brokering)

Alexander Ignatov (2nd year, Library and Information Management)

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