On September 15, 1882, the Ivan Vazov Library - Plovdiv was opened for readers. It serves as a national repository of Bulgarian literature and has made a huge contribution to the preservation of Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage and has over 1.5 million library items.
It was created on the personal initiative and with the efforts of the prominent Revival activist Yoakim Gruev, director of public education in the middle of 1879. There was a great assistance by Konstantin Velichkov (with his pleas in the Regional Assembly to vote on the first budget of the library), Petko Karavelov, who arranged special order for over 400 books in English, the director of the Plovdiv Boys' High School - Dimitar Blagoev, as well as the Russian Vice Consul Naiden Gerov ( who carried out the transfer to Plovdiv of 1850 volumes from the famous Venelin Library, created by Bulgarian students in Odessa), Metropolitan Panaret (with his valuable donations of old printed books), etc.
Yoakim Gruev's idea for a library and archeological museum dates back to May 1878 and until 1882 was a common repository of books and antiquities and was housed in part of the premises of the Directorate of Public Education of Eastern Rumelia. Thus began the Regional Library and Museum of Eastern Rumelia. with equal rights with the National Library in Sofia after the Union.
The library in Plovdiv developed as an archive of Bulgarian books and periodicals, a rich repository of manuscripts and Revival literature, unique collections of rare and valuable editions were created. The Freedom of the Press Act, passed in 1881, had an important impact. According to it, the library receives two copies of all publications, books, brochures, newspapers, magazines, appeals, engravings, maps, etc. of Eastern Rumelia. With this law it became the first depository library in Bulgaria and in the Balkans. After the law of 1897 it retained equal rights with the other national library in Sofia.
Prominent Bulgarians, important personalities such as Petko Karavelov, Konstantin Velichkov, Ivan Vazov, Zahari Stoyanov, Hristo G. Danov, Iliya Yovchev and others have made a great contribution to the organization, structure and development. The first librarian curator (manager) was the Russian publicist Alexander Bashmakov. After him the library was managed successively by Iliya Yovchev, Stefan Botev (brother of the great Hristo Botev) Stoyan Argirov, Boris Dyakovich, Nikolay Raynov, Ivan Radoslavov, Dimitar Tsonchev, Vicho Ivanov.
After the Union, the library, moved many times before, was housed by order of Prime Minister Petko Karavelov in the building built for the Regional Assembly of the former Eastern Rumelia, and remained there from 1886 to 1974.
It has an extremely valuable archive, including manuscripts on parchment and paper from the XII to XIX century, archives of prominent Revival writers and public figures, numerous comprehensive and annual currents of periodicals, newspapers and magazines, the relatively most complete collection of national literature, published in Eastern Rumelia until the Unification in 1885, engravings and prints of prominent Revival painters, as well as Rembrandt etchings from 1880, an original edition, one of the richest photographic collections in the country of old photographs and portraits some of which are the only items, and other valuable publications.
The library has an enviable publishing activity. As early as 1885, the first printed catalog in Bulgaria was prepared, an Inventory of the old printed Bulgarian books (V. Pogorelov) was compiled, and the studies Slavic Manuscripts and Old Printed Books in the National Library in Plovdiv (B. Tsonev) and Ornament and letter in the Slavic manuscripts in the National Library in Plovdiv (N. Raynov) were printed in separate editions. From 1905 the Yearbook of the National Library in Plovdiv began to be published. There is also a great contribution in the field of local history, and in this respect national functions have been assigned. In 1950 it was renamed the Ivan Vazov National Library.
Among the most valuable editions stored in it are 354 manuscripts (18 on parchment and 336 on paper): Slepchenski apostol (XII century), Slivenski damaskin (XII century), Kyustendil Gospel (XII-XIII century), Fasting (XIII century), Chasoslovets by Yakov Kraikov published in 1566 in Venice, a kind of Orthodox textbook with works by Yoan Zlatoust, Grigoriy Bogoslov, Yoan Damaskin, Cyril Aleksandriiski, Grigoriy Sinait and others. The library keeps the only copies in Bulgaria of: Psalter - 1638, Abraham's Collection - 1674, the first printed Bulgarian work with secular content Stematography - 1741 of Hristofor Zhefarovich, as well as Sluzhebnik - 1519 by Bozhidar Vukovich, Chasoslovets - 1566 by Yakov Kraikov, Four Gospels (XVIII century) by Macarius, History of the Byzantine Enamels - 1892 by G. P. Kondakov - bibliophile edition, printed in 200 copies, and others.
These events are described by several chroniclers of Plovdiv, collected and placed in the Encyclopedia of Plovdiv, compiled by Bozhidar Totev.