In Kazakhstan, October 24th marks a day of celebration and recognition for those who promote the country's literary heritage. This day, known as Librarian's Day, was officially established just last year by a decree from the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan boasts an extensive network of libraries, with approximately 11,000 libraries throughout the country. More than 25,000 people work in those libraries, committed to preserving and spreading knowledge.
The combined book collections of these libraries have surpassed 328 million literary works. This extensive collection spans from classical masterpieces to contemporary gems, covering an array of genres from scientific dissertations to captivating novels. This extensive collection serves the needs of over 9.5 million readers across the nation.
As Kazakhstan celebrates Librarian's Day, we not only pay tribute to diligent professionals who serve as the guardians of our nation's knowledge but also acknowledge the evolving role of libraries in an era of rapid digital transformation.
The National Academic Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, located in Astana, stands out as a beacon of digital progress. It has earned a well-deserved reputation as the most digitized library in the country, offering an extensive collection of digital and electronic content.
QazMonitor talked with Gaziza Nurgaliyeva, the Director of the National Academic Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Astana, about essential qualities for a librarian, the digitalization of libraries, and the types of books that are the most popular among local readers.
What qualities are essential for a librarian?
First and foremost, a librarian should possess the qualities of a teacher, be well-educated, and have the ability to communicate effectively with people. We encounter a diverse range of readers, and we often take on the roles of counselors and informants. Hence, the most distinguishing quality of a librarian is composure.
Could you tell us about some of the projects that the National Academic Library is engaged in?
Since last year, we have been hosting a book festival called ‘KitapTime’. We intentionally organize it in September, at the beginning of the school year and the working season. It's a nationwide project that welcomes various participants: city residents, guests, publishers, bookstores, and readers, so it has become a necessary project.
Another project we have been running for the past two years is a forum for young librarians. There, we gather young professionals from all over the country and provide training in innovative approaches [to librarianship].
We are also involved in an international project aimed at expanding our content. This involves searching for books in electronic libraries of other countries and collecting valuable historical material for our electronic library. In addition, despite our status as a National Academic Library, we serve readers of various backgrounds. We have a children's library section with numerous clubs and groups, hosting a great deal of projects.
Overall, the two most significant projects we have been implementing in the last two years are ‘KitapTime’ and the Young Librarians Forum.
What types of books are particularly popular among readers in your library?
Classical literature and fiction books are always in high demand. We have an electronic fund as well as a traditional book fund for scientific literature, abstracts, dissertations, and literature of various types, including contemporary works: motivational literature, psychology, and philosophy.
Can you highlight significant changes in library activities in Kazakhstan in recent years and how your library is contributing to these developments?
First, we started celebrating Librarian's Day last year, which is important for the Kazakh library community. This helps elevate the significance of our profession. Many libraries in the country are now working on various projects and expanding their content.
Libraries all across the country are experiencing increased demand, and libraries in Almaty and Astana are undergoing modernization.
As for our library, we are currently focusing on the electronic library and content expansion.
What advice would you offer to those considering a career as a librarian?
In general, the national code of values places great importance on an individual's spiritual enrichment, and books are the primary source of this enrichment. The librarian's role revolves around preserving and safeguarding these cultural treasures, these golden collections. This profession carries substantial responsibility and significance. Therefore, we are actively encouraging young professionals to consider this career path.
I earnestly urge young individuals to explore this profession as it fosters an environment that nurtures people's spiritual growth.