August 1 marks the birthday of Ms Olga Sobolevskaya, an outstanding Librarian who devoted her life to the National Library of Belarus.
There are people who choose their professional path in their youth and follow it throughout their lives, without turning. It's an example of selfless, impeccable service to a beloved cause. Ms Olga Sobolevskaya belongs to this category.
She celebrates a double birthday on August 1. It was on this day 50 years ago that she was born as a professional, being sent as a young specialist to the BSSR State Library named after V.I. Lenin.
Olga was born in the village of Loshitsa, Minsk region. Her mother, Maria Gluzdakova, worked as a primary school teacher, father, Anatoly Sobolevsky, was a math teacher.
In their educated family, knowledge was highly appreciated. Therefore, the love for books and reading was instilled in Olga from childhood. Little Olga was an active reader and she binge-read the entire collection of a small rural mobile library. It was then that she had a dream to become a librarian.
After having graduated from the Papernyansky secondary school, Olga entered the Library Department of the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute named after Maxim Gorky, which she graduated with honours in 1970, receiving the specialty of a Librarian-Bibliographer of the highest qualification.
The first and only place of work of Ms Sobolevskaya was the BSSR State Library named after V.I. Lenin (now the National Library of Belarus), where she was invited after her pre-graduation practice. Even then, Ms Anna Melamed, Head of the Scientific and Methodological Department, noticed an outstanding student, spotting her huge potential. Having worked as Bibliographer, a year later Ms Sobolevskaya became a Senior Bibliographer. Five years later, she became Senior Editor, and ten years later - Chief Librarian. The Scientific and Methodological Department became her second home. Despite its complexity, the work carried away and brought joy to Ms Sobolevskaya.
In 1996, she headed the Library Science Department, which had been created in 1991 by merging the Scientific and Methodological and the Research Departments.
The 1990s and early 2000s were an interesting and very difficult stage in the development of the country's libraries. The formation of a new sovereign state set new goals and objectives for the libraries, required an understanding of their role and capabilities in solving the problem of reviving the national culture. This was the time when automation was introduced into the activities of libraries, the first computers were installed, a network of public centres of legal information, libraries of agricultural towns, integrated institutions for servicing rural residents (libraries-clubs, libraries-museums, social service houses, etc.) began to develop. All this required clear methodological guidance, the ability to stay ahead of time in knowledge and skills.
Ms Sobolevskaya began her working day very early and sometimes did not go home until late in the evening. A simple pencil and a piece of paper where she wrote down her thoughts and ideas were her integral companions. Ms Sobolevskaya often came to work with a piece of paper, written all over on her way to the Library. She had to deal with very different issues. The work required creativity, thoroughness and efficiency because the Department's area of responsibility included the development of normative legal documents of the national level, concepts and programs for the development of the country's libraries. A scientifically-based approach was required to avoid mistakes. A number of scientific studies, including sociological, was conducted under the guidance of Ms Sobolevskaya.
Librarians from all over the country from large cities and small towns asked for her advice. And she always knew what to answer, how to explain or give support.
The beginning of the 2000s was also the time when the National Library of Belarus moved to a new building. How would the library operate under the new conditions and the functions assigned to it? What will be its structure and staff? The department headed by Ms Sobolevskaya was directly involved in preparing the answers to these and many other questions.
The results of the work were presented in various publications in which O. Sobolevskaya was either the author or the compiler, or was a member of the editorial board. She has had more than 130 publications and numerous presentations at conferences and seminars of various levels.
Ms Sobolevskaya is known and highly appreciated by Belarusian and foreign colleagues, the administration of the Library and the state. She received numerous letters of appreciation, certificates and awards of various levels. Her photograph was repeatedly posted on the Library Honour Board.
Among her highest state awards are a special award of the President of the Republic of Belarus in the field of Culture and Art (2000) and the Medal of Merit (2002). Ms Sobolevskaya was awarded the Patriarchal Exarch's Award in 2017 for her active participation and methodical help in improving the professional competences of church library employees.
Ms Sobolevskaya's active professional qualities and life philosophy has been translated into her productive social activities. For many years, she was the press coordinator of the Eurasian Library Assembly and chaired the regulatory documentation committee of the Belarusian Library Association.
"Talented person is talented everywhere" is a well-known statement by Lion Feuchtwanger and Olga is an embodiment of the expression. For about 50 years, she was a member of the folk instruments ensemble of the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute named after Maxim Gorky, who was led by the famous musician and teacher V.S. Peretyatko. Her musical career began in the school orchestra under the guidance of her father. Olga played the domra.
Another talent of Ms Sobolevskaya is the talent to love. Great love accompanies her throughout her life. "He is my ideal, my youthful dream," says Olga of her husband Petr Parshin, a well-known Belarusian artist and teacher. She gives all her infinite love and warmth to her son, daughter and grandchildren. Love in the heart of Olga is so limitless that everyone who has the happiness to communicate with her feels it.
Ms Pshibytko, the successor of Ms Sobolevskaya, says the following about her: "Always radiant and in love. That's how I know Ms Sobolevskaya. In love with his vocation, the Library, her family, her colleagues... She became my first library teacher. It was because of her that I fell in love with the National Library. She kept on explaining all the peculiarities of the work, describing the global role the Library plays in our society..."
Ms Sobolevskaya is not only a great professional, who enjoys the authority of the entire library community but also a talented teacher. She is a born teacher. She knows how to explain complex things clearly. Many people turn to her for advice.
She is now continuing her work in the field of development of information resources.
The staff of the National Library of Belarus wishes Ms Sobolevskaya health, fruitful work, many interesting events and new discoveries. Let her enthusiasm and professionalism be a guiding light for many generations of young librarians.
Bibliology Research Department
Read about the veterans and employees of the National Library of Belarus in "Our History: a Portrait Gallery" section.