The new building of the National Library of Belarus opened its doors on June 16th, 2006. At the official opening ceremony President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said: "This unique building combines the beauty of modern architecture and up to date technological service". This is an access point to the worldwide information resources, a place for long-term preservation and use of past and modern scientific and cultural achievements, and also for work, leisure and holding of international events. The National Library of Belarus is one of the biggest intellectual and cultural centers of the country. This is a unique architectural and technological complex, built with the use of modern materials and technologies, which meets information, social and cultural needs of society.
The new building of the National Library of Belarus is located on the main avenue of the Belarusian capital – the Independence Avenue – in a beautiful landscape area bordering a riverside and parks. There is the first Belarusian printer Francysk Skaryna bronze monument in front of the Library’s central entrance. The exterior of the Library building has the shape of a ball-like transparent polyhedron, a "diamond", placed in the center of the three-storied surrounding stylobate. The shape of the building symbolizes the value and endlessness of the world of knowledge (the authors of an architectural design are M. Vinogradov and V. Kramarenko).
The design of the building
A unique image of the National Library is achieved by means of its nicely decorated interior. Through the main entrance, constructed in the shape of two opened book pages which reflect the development of the world and Slavonic writing, visitors get into the lobby, where they get amazed by abundance of light and green plants. Here visitors get the first acquaintance with the Library. There are the registration desk, the reference and information desk, and also the library excursions registration desk.
In the atrium on the first floor users get reference about the availability of necessary publications and and learn to search individually for documents with help of automated tools. The reference tool of the Library is represented by the electronic catalogue which was launched in 1993, the image-catalogue which is a digital reproduction of the General catalogue of the Library, etc. New software installed in the Library provides multimode options for searching of library materials, enables automated ordering, delivery and circulation of items for users, and provides access to the latest electronic resources: the databases purchased from world-known information producers, databases generated by the Library and a number of bibliographic and full-text publications on CD-ROM. The reference and information services are available not only inside the Library. Virtual services are represented by the following virtual and library services available on the Internet portal: Ask a Librarian, Electronic Document Delivery, The Virtual Centre of Legal Information, Public Information. In order to expand its user base, the library developed the Virtual Reading Room, which provides remote access to electronic information resources. Capacities of the new building make it possible to optimize the relocation of library collections and to ease the access to frequently used materials: encyclopedias, reference books, manuals, which are available in open access. Despite the large proportions of the building, delivery of ordered books and other items from the book storage is implemented with telelifts and takes only about 20 minutes. The National Library of Belarus has become the first Belarusian institution to use such kind of the automated delivery system.
There are 18 reading rooms in the new building of the Library. They are differentiated in accordance with educational level of users, subject area and document type. Comfortable reading rooms are located on the three floors of the building and have 2000 work places. All reading rooms are equipped with electronic circulation desks, modern scanning, copying and printing devices and automation-equipped working places. A special attention is paid to physically impaired people. All reading rooms are light and comfortable, with a nice view on the riverside and the park area. In the stylobate are located administration offices, maintenance rooms and the Conference Hall which holds 490 places.
The uniqueness of the new building of the Library is that its book storage is located in the high-bay area of the building. Such arrangement has the certain advantages in comparison with the underground book depository as it is the optimum from the climatic point of view. Furthermore, the corridors located on perimeter of the book stack create a double layer (the principle of a thermos) that allows to keep the fixed temperature in any weather indoors.
The new Library’s building is equipped with modern engineering united into a single complex which allows maintaining the whole building as a single system. Thus this is an intellectual building in all senses. The information-technological system of the National Library of Belarus is intended to implement all library, information and technological processes and operations; it consists of modern automated library information system, the Internet portal, the system of corporate cataloguing of documents and the Union electronic catalogue, the system of formation of the national database of authoritative/normative records, the monitoring system and access management, the system of creation of electronic copies of documents, the system of document delivery, the system of restoration and preservation of documents, the system of publishing activities, etc. This complex of information-technological systems innovates the common library activities, such as development of information resources, user service, arrangement and maintenance of library stocks.
The global informatization, the information technology progress have set a challenge for the main library of the country: to strengthen its role in social life, to create favorable conditions for meeting innovative, scientific, creative, cognitive and other needs of users, to provide advanced services and to improve the efficiency of work of personnel.
In 2004, at the standing seminar of heads of republican and local state structures ("The innovative Policy of the state and ways of its implementation") President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko proposed to create a republican information center on the basis of the National Library of Belarus. In line with the President’s suggestion the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus has developed and approved "The Conception of creation of the national information and cultural center in the new building of the National Library of Belarus".
According to this Conception, the Library as the national information center performs the following duties:
A meeting of the Commission on Accreditation of scientific institutions took place on 18 December, 2013. At this event the Chairmen of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences and the State Committee on Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus accepted and approved the conclusion on the accreditation of the National Library of Belarus as a scientific organization. On 14 January, 2014 the National Library of Belarus received a Certificate of Accreditation as a scientific organization.
Thanks to the unique architectural and technological features of the new building the Library can perform its mission as a social, political, and cultural center. According to the protocol of instructions of the President of the Republic of Belarus (April 15th, 2005), the Center of International Summit Talks was created on the basis of the National Library of Belarus. The Center includes the Oval Hall and the Round Hall for international summits, the Conference Hall and the international press-center. The Center is intended for organizing and holding of international negotiations, business meetings, conferences, symposiums and forums on politics, economy and law.
The Center of international summit talks is fitted up with special communication equipment and modern multipurpose engineering that allows to hold major political, cultural and educational events at high technical and professional level.
Organization and conducting of excursions is an important part of the Library’s activity. The most popular are panoramic excursions during which visitors get familiarized with the new building of the Library, its activities, architectural peculiarities, the interior design and equipment. There is the Observation deck on the roof of the Library whence visitors can see the beautiful panorama of Minsk.
The National Library of Belarus is a modern library which fulfills the duties of an informational, social, cultural and political center at once. The new building of the Library has become a visiting card of Belarus.
The various cultural and educational events involving representatives of diplomatic missions and international governmental and non-governmental organizations are held in the Library.
Among other things, the social and cultural center arranges art exhibitions in the four galleries – "Atrium", "Labyrinth", "Rakurs" and "Panorama". Along with the art galleries, the Book Museum is the important part of the social and cultural center. The museum is intended to acquaint visitors with the history of the Belarusian book-printing in the context of the world history of the book. In the Book Museum are open standing and temporary exhibitions where visitors can see rarities from the Library’s stock which contains 90 thousand rare and early printed books. The museum is fitted up with modern exhibition equipment. The special engineering maintains the fixed temperature and humidity indoors.
The State Institution "National Library of Belarus" is a modern library combining the functions of an information, socio-cultural and sociopolitical center. The new library building is the visiting card of our country.