On my way to Greece a week ago I visited Rossi Poparkova in Goyse Delchev. Rossi directs the library in Gotche Delchev, Bulgaria. Her library was an ABLE partner with the Annette Choczyzk, first with the Arapahoe County Library and then the Delta County Library District in Colorado. When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested in Bulgaria, Rossi’s Library became a Gates Global Library. I visited the library about seven years ago. much has changed; much not. The library is part of a chithalisthe, or community center, that provides the library facilities, utilities, internet and wifi, and some funding for library materials. There is a new children’s room, but away from the main part of the library. There are now about 20 computers for people to use with classes taught by library staff. Rossi says that library use has dramatically increased because of the computers and expanded English language collection used by students learning English.
The library is still heated by wood and coal stoves and the storage room is still crammed with books for which there is no space, and Rossi still struggles to find funding. She cobbles together a budget from the chithalisthe, Gotche Delchev municipality that buys magazines, the national Ministry of Culture that pays for the small salaries, and a small book budget from readers cards which people have to buy to use the library. Since both the main library and the children’s library are up stairs, Rossi recently applied to the national ministry for social services to fund an elevator.
Photos above show Rossi and colleague Maria Krostilova in the main library, Rossi and children’s librarian Katerina Milenova in the children’s room, a very full storage area, and the Gates computers before the the library opened, hence no one using them.