Libro Futuro

Professional associations, digital and Wikipedia. Being a librarian in Moldova. Mario Coffa interviews Mariana Harjevschi

Intervista in italiano

Mariana Harjevschi graduated BA in Library of Science (1999) and Master of Journalism with Specialization in Library Science (2000) from State University from Moldova. She joined the “B.P. Hasdeu” Municipal Library in 1997 and since 2013 serves as a general director of this intuition. She managed to open in 2001, through a project supported by the Soros Foundation-Moldova, the first public library specialized in jurisprudence – the Public Law Library. In 2012, she was elected as the president of the Librarian’s Association from Moldova and continued to serve for a second mandate until 2019.

To start Mariana, what prompted you to choose this profession?

Let me be honest. I was born in the countryside, and a public library in a village is about greeting with a smile each reader in person. Of course, it is as well making sure that his or her library visit is the best experience. Besides, you want to share what the library has the best, you also feel very confident to share what the library does. Therefore, I realized, while spending time in the public library from Mereseni Village, that it is about human interaction in a library, which I liked very much. It finally lead to choosing librarianship. Later, while studying library science at Moldova Stat University, I genuinely become interested in applying technology in libraries and contributing to making public libraries from Moldova modern and attractive. During my university years I studied my passion for this profession and I realized that being a librarian is an attractive option for my long term career.

What does it mean to be a librarian in Moldova? Is there a legal recognition of the profession and what is the training path to follow before becoming a librarian?

As soon as I was determined to follow the profession of a librarian, I did my bachelor and master degree in Library Science at Moldova State University from 1994 to 2001. In 2014 I continued with a PhD in the same field, at the same university. Currently, Republic of Moldova Code of Education (2014) and the Law on Libraries (2017), meant to legislate the model for modern libraries, guarantee the sustainable development of these institutions and offer guidance on how to pursue a career as library specialists in these institutions. The state provides vocational training through technical vocational education offered by the Art College from Soroca city. The State Moldova University offers undergraduate, master and doctoral education in the field of librarianship. A diploma, issued in accordance with the law, confirms the qualification of the specialized staff in libraries. Currently, professional training for specialized personnel is provided in training centers through non-formal and informal education. Therefore, a career in Library Science can be intellectually challenging and personally fulfilling and rewarding.

You served as a President of the Association of Librarians (LAM) in your country for two mandates. In your opinion, what is the role that a professional association can and should have? 

It was an honor to explore an extraordinary new opportunity as the association leadership role for two mandates in a row. From 2012 to 2019, I took up the responsibility for the Presidency of the Librarians Association from Moldova. The theme that I proposed was “Stronger Together”. It aimed to sustain the efforts of the association to continue promoting the profession and the library institution, to maintain a professional dialogue with decisions makes in order to obtain a positive attitude towards the need to develop and modernize libraries. I focused on projects implemented in collaboration with various partners, which resulted in a feeling of solidarity, which ensured the recognition of the importance of libraries in the community. I believe that was the best approach to ensure a sustainable future for LAM itself, and thus create a strong and united library network that contributed to literate, informed and participatory communities.

I was very impressed by a project that you followed together with colleagues from Romania entitled 1Lib1Ref2022 in which you edited Wikipedia articles of Moldovan personalities, adding bibliographic references. Wonderful project. Can you tell us briefly?

As librarians, we noticed that Wikipedia was one of the first stops for readers and researchers. During COVID-19, it became an important resource for documentation. Starting with 2020, the Municipal Library motto was “Let’s create digital content together”, this encouraging the team of librarians to develop various comprehensive, accessible, and verifiable sources of information on web. We were inspired by how the skills of librarians align with Wikimedia community and joined the #1lib1ref campaign by contributing with the following: added references, new articles, WikiData items for articles on WikiSource and organized a joint event with librarians from Romania. As a result of that collaboration, the librarians fixed mistakes and inaccuracies in Wikipedia related to articles about national personalities, sightseers and added references that pointed readers to work in our library collections for more information. Moreover, the Municipal Library has been offering guided tours of the city for a number of years now. Since the librarians started on the road of becoming Wikipedia editors and as such, the tours of the city currently are planned to be moved online using Wikimedia Commons. Our hope is we succeeded in contributing to Wikipedia to become a more reliable source for our readers.

Especially after the tragic experience of the pandemic, do you believe that digital technology can contribute significantly to the work of libraries together with the traditional tools we know well? Does the librarian need to equip himself with new skills to face a changing world?

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the “B.P. Hasdeu” Municipal Library, making us keep in touch with the community in new, innovative ways and pay close attention to our reader’s needs. Our essential role became adapting rapidly to the COVID-19 environment, helping users to access necessary information and services. Constrained by the critical situation, the Municipal Library was closed from March to May, although the network of 27 libraries delivered information remotely and offered reading services for children, adolescents and families via the Internet. Our librarians reinvented new opportunities for smart reading: they have tried new digital literacy experiences, created new services with a strong educational, cultural and social impact, through various online platforms and social networks.

This project, the Library World Tour, is attempting to create a network between librarians around the world based on sharing. Do you believe that beyond each of our individual countries, sharing our profession can help build an ever stronger and more aware image of librarians? 

It seems that the motto “sharing is caring” means that sharing success stories and relevant experiences with others is a sign that you care about them. The professional dialogue is very much appreciated, as librarians are looking to constantly stay up-to-date. So, the Library World Tour gathered interesting topics, reflected library trends and encouraged innovative experiments. We are honored that Republic of Moldova is one of the other successful international experiments in the field.

What would you recommend to a young student who would one day want to become a Librarian?

We often hear that “libraries are not as popular as they once were”. However, I consider that public libraries can have a leading role in the community if they offer access to relevant technologies, use more tools to access information in creative ways and customize services for community members, being opened for the digital world. Currently, libraries serve refugees and bring together resources and best practices to help them.




Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.


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