The village of Belogradets is situated in northeast Bulgaria, 60 km from Varna and the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The village is inhabited by 1,374 people. Almost half of them are children and school goers, pensioners and unemployed people. The other half is the working people. The ethnic composition is diverse: 70% Turks, 28% Bulgarians, and 2% Roma. Means of livelihood include agriculture, stock-breeding, trade, and light industry.
The library at Svetlina 1904 Public Chitalishte in Belogradets joined the Glob@l Libraries Program and on 3 December 2010 received 5 desktop computers, a multifunctional printing device, a projector and a screen, a router, a network device and became a Glob@l Library. The municipality provides free access to the internet. On 22 June 2011, during the computer literacy training for librarians, the design of a website of the library and the chitalishte was launched.
Due to the Glob@l Libraries Program, the residents of Belogradets were provided with an opportunity to access computers, internet and information. No such opportunity existed in the village before that. At the same time, the library changed. It became a preferred and reliable partner of the municipal administration, the NGO sector and the business. According to the librarian Katya Todorova, libraries and chitalishte are traditional cultural centers which, in the smaller settlements, with the available equipment and the Glob@l Libraries donation, become public service places. The increased interest in the library and the enhanced communication opportunities precondition networking with various organizations. Good partnerships enable the implementation of different events beneficial to the community.
An example of such an event is the Health Campaign conducted in Belogradets at the initiative of the library with the support of the municipal administration, the Glob@l Libraries Program, the Ministry of Health, and Chaika Pharma cardiac hospital.
The campaign focused on public healthcare and in particular on reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 30% of Belogradets’ population are pensioners and are part of the contingent at risk. More than 2 million Bulgarians suffer from cardiovascular diseases which ranks our country first in Europe in number of cases. There is no cardiologist in the village which means that the people from the village travel 60 km to get to Varna where they can access healthcare or prevention services.
Risk factors causing cardiovascular diseases include smoking and excessive use of salt. Two of the topics of the Informed and Healthy national information campaign of the Ministry of Health whose partner is the Glob@l Libraries Program are dedicated to smoking and excessive use of salt. The Ministry of Health created numerous information materials related to these topics like presentations, brochures, videos and films distributed electronically within the Glob@l Libraries network.
The library in Belogradets identified a need for medical check-ups and health-related information among the villagers. Due to her strengthened position in the local community, the availability of computers and internet access, and the newly involved partners, the librarian Katya Todorova managed to mobilize funding from the municipal administration targeted at the provision of free-of-charge cardiac check-ups among the population and distribution of information related to prevention and healthy lifestyle. On 22 March, in the building of the library, Dr. Velevski, nurse Nikolova and the medical representative Ilieva from the cardiac hospital in Varna conducted medical check-ups of the residents of Belogradets. In addition, the multimedia projector, the screen and the computers received under the Glob@l Libraries Program were used to show videos and presentations on the harm caused by smoking and excessive use of salt kindly provided by the Ministry of Health and distributed within the Glob@l Libraries Program library network. Because of the strong interest, the check-ups and the presentations continue in April.
The joint initiative of the library, the chitalishte, the municipality and Glob@l Libraries means health and longer life for the residents of the village of Belogradets whose access to health-related services and information is limited.
The Health Campaign in Belogradets is only one example of the change taking place in the library, the electronic services it offers to the public and its transformation into a natural partner of the municipal administration, the NGO sector and the business for the good of the local community.