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To the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of the famous Belarusian Bibliographer Julija Bibila

To the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of the famous Belarusian Bibliographer Julija Bibila
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There are many personalities in the history of the formation and development of the National Library of Belarus, without whom it is difficult to imagine the process of formation of the country's library industry. Among them is the founder of Belarusian bibliography, Julija Bibila.

She was born in 1897 in Parozava, Svislach district, Hrodna region, into the family of a town clerk. After graduating from the Valkavysk and later the Babrujsk Gymnasium in 1915, she enrolled in the Bestuzhev Higher Women's Courses in Petrograd.

After finishing her studies in 1917, she returned to Babrujsk, where she taught at a school, took part in the work of the Babrujsk department of the Belarusian Socialist Society and the Society for War Victims, and was a member of the "Belarusian Cultural-Educational Society". It was also during this period that she worked in the Babruisk City Library, where she set up the country's first department of local lore literature.

Knowing Ms Bibila's enthusiasm for local lore, the director of the newly created Belarusian State University (BSU) Library Iosif Simanouski invited her to head the Department of Belarusian Literature and Bibliography. Julija Bibila accepted the offer and moved to Minsk in September 1921.

This is how she later recalled this moment from her life: "Having settled in Minsk, he (Simanouski – ed.) sometimes visited Babrujsk, where he used to head the city library, and I was dreaming of university at that time... After meeting me, he started inviting me to work in Minsk in the library... Iosif Simanouski assured me that the local lore department of the new library would be actively developing and he would try his best to give a place to my local hobbies... Brilliant prospects of local lore work in the library fascinated me, and I decided to accept the offer..."

Department of Belarusian Literature and Bibliography, 1925

Having moved to Minsk, she immediately entered the Belarusian State University in the Ethno-Linguistic Department of the Social Sciences Department, from which she successfully graduated in 1925.   She combined her work at the library with her university studies, but also taught Belarusian literature in a seven-year research school at the Pedagogical Department of the BSU, and worked as secretary of the bibliographical commission of the Institute of Belarusian Culture.

At the Jubiliejny Dom. Ms Bibila is sixth from the right, 1926.

The formation and development of the bibliographic service of the BSSR State Library named after V.I. Lenin, as well as the emergence of such types of state bibliography as current and repertoire are connected with the activity of Julija Bibila. Ms Bibila stood at the origins of the bibliographic registration of the BSSR press and created the first regional bibliographic card index in the country, reflecting the literature in different fields of Belarusian studies.

She is the compiler of the first issue of "Chronicles of the Belarusian Printing", which was published by the Belarusian Book Chamber in 1924. During the period from 1927 to 1929 Ms Bibila prepared four bibliographical indices of the series "Chronicles of the Belarusian Printing", which together covered the Belarusian printing production of the pre-revolutionary period and the first decade of the Soviet regime.


A significant contribution to the reference and bibliographic apparatus of the library was made by Ms Bibila, who created the personal index cards of Ja. Kupala, Ja. Kolas, C. Hartny, Z. Biadulia, and Ciotka, as well as a card index on the history of the Belarusian theatre.

In 1937, to avoid possible political repressions, she moved to Saratov, where she worked as head bibliographer in the library of the University of Saratov until her retirement. She was involved in the publication of several scientific bibliographic reference books on the Saratov region.

The 1940s

Even when she was far away, she never forgot Belarus or her department, in the foundation of which she put a lot of effort and heart. "Just after the war we began to receive short letters from Ms Bibila from Saratov. There was concern about the restoration of the State Library of the BSSR destroyed by the Nazis, its catalogues and bibliographic cards. Almost every letter contained cards with records of publications by Belarusian writers in the Russian press... The idea of the Department of Belarusian Literature and Bibliography never left her... " This is how Nina Vatacy once recalled Ms Bibila.

In November 1959, Julija returned to Minsk, where she continued to work with the Department.

Ms Bibila is on the far right

During the 1960s and 70s she was actively involved in the production of the library's bibliographic publications: “Russian pre-revolutionary book about Belarus. 1802–1916 " (1964), “Bibliography on the History of Belarus. Feudalism and Capitalism" (1969), "Education in the Belarusian SSR for 50th anniversary of the Soviet Regime" (1973).


The name of Ms Bibila holds a rightful place in the history of the establishment and development of the country's library sector. Through her professional activity she made a significant contribution to the development of Belarusian bibliography and culture in general. Her fruitful and tireless work will always serve as an example of fidelity and dedication to librarianship, the library and the book. 

Ms Bibila is in the first row, second from the right, 1962

Ms Bibila passed away in 1974.


Bibliology Research Department

Read about the veterans and employees of the National Library of Belarus in the news section “Our History: a Portrait Gallery.”


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