The National Library for the Blind was founded in April 1928. One of its first activities as a cultural union was to begin the printing and accumulation of braille books. Until 1994 the books were hand made in one copy only. In this way we have produced over 1800 titles, which is more than 12 000 volumes. At the beginning of the 60' the first tapes of audio books were recorded.
With time the organisation of a small group of blind people became a national braille library. Since 1994 we have computerised the printing process. Thanks to the participation in over 20 projects of the"Open Society" Foundation, the European Commission, the United Dutch Foundations, the UN, the Ministry of Culture and the Agency for People with Disabilities in Bulgaria, the Library now has computers and braille displays for pre printing preparation and three braille printers (embossers).
The book producing process is complete: from the pre-printing to the binding of the books, it is all done in the Library printing centre.
We have a well functioning net for the distribution of the books. We have three branches in the country and two branches in the schools for blind children in Sofia and Varna. We also send books by mail to the our readers throughout Bulgaria.
The Library has more than 2500 titles now and is the only source for braille fiction and reference literature in the country. For our blind readers with computers we offer electronic books.
Unfortunately our braille fund is far from sufficient for the ever-growing needs of the young braille readers. We provide services to the entire country but are funded as a local organisation by the city council. That is why we are always short of funds for book publishing and are constantly looking for sponsors.
Braille printing and book distribution is our main activity but we also organise meetings with popular personalities (musicians, singers, artists, etc.) for our members. Many amateur vocal and instrumental groups of blind people are associated to our Library. They find a way of artistic expression and often receive awards at song contests, which is very stimulating.
We traditionally organise a Christmas celebration for our members and a particularly popular cooking competition for blind ladies in March.
In 2003 we celebrated our 75th anniversary under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Despite modern technologies, braille books still have an important place in the life of the blind and particularly the children. As the President of the European Blind Union, Colin Lowe put it at the last UNESCO conference: "The road to education of the blind passes through braille."
Our purpose is to provide the blind and particularly the children with as many braille books as possible so that they can feel equal in the access to books.
IN DATES AND FACTS
1825 - Lois Braille created an alphabet for the blind
1904 - The Braille alphabet was adapted to Bulgarian
1905 - the Institute for the blind was founded in Bulgaria
1920 - "Tamnina" (Darkness)- Society of the people who lost their sight in the wars (1920) and the Society of the Bulgarian Blind (1921)
29.04.1928 - National Library and Community Center of the Blind in Bulgaria
1928 -first Braille books.
15.09.1928 -the Community Centre was admitted into the National Union of Community Centers
1958 - recording the first audio books
1928-1940 - the Community Centre and the Society of the Bulgarian blind begin publishing "Sadba" (Fate) magazine whose editor-in- chief was Dirnitar Panteleev
1933-1939 - the Braille magazine "Vestitel" (Messenger) was published, printed in Sweden
1950 - the magazine "Life of the Blind" started as a publication of the Union of the Blind in Bulgaria and the Community Centre. The "Zari "(Rays) magazine is its continuation
1963 - a recording facility was established in the Community Centre; "Populyarna prosveta", the first talking magazine in Bulgaria was recorded
11.04.1978 -the Community Centre received the "St. St. Cyril and Methodius" I degree state award, the highest state award in the country
1994 -the first electronic books in Bulgaria; Electronic Braille embossers
1997 - an electronic library was created
2003 - the 75th anniversary of the Louis Braille Library and National Community Centre of the Blind was celebrated under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria