AUBG Employee Spotlight: Nikolina Ivanova-Bell, Panitza Library Director


What is your role at AUBG?

As a newly appointed Head Librarian, I oversee the operational, managerial and strategic library functions, which had been both - challenging and exciting opportunity for me this year.

Tell us a little about your background?

For the past 16 years I have been a librarian in public and academic settings in the UK and Bulgaria. I have worked on many positions, thanks to which I’ve gained vast experience in almost all library spheres. I share the belief that lifelong learning opportunities and participation in various activities play a big role in our personal and professional development. I am a Mortenson Associate (2011), and serving as the Chair of the AMICAL Consortium Coordinating Committee (since 2015).

What is the most important project you have worked on recently?

It surely must be the Faculty Bibliography. Together with my colleagues, we’ve created an online platform, which will be updated regularly and showcase our professors’ scholarly work. Our aim is to support, help visualize, and promote faculty research by using our professional skills more intensely.

What do you like most about AUBG?

AUBG became a very dear place to me ever since I joined in 2005. It has that special spirit, which you cannot find anywhere else. The unique combination of diversity, constant growth, active students’ body, profound engagement keeps it so interesting and lively all the time.

It’s a pleasure working with our bright students, outstanding professors, and awesome colleagues; it’s an honor to represent Panitza Library locally and internationally.   

How does a normal day look like at your workplace?

Every single day is like no other. I spend most of my time planning activities and budgets, networking and building partnerships with the AUBG constituencies, library consortia, vendors, and other external associates.

As much as I enjoy being the administrator of the library, I love aiding our patrons directly, and take any chance I have in doing this. We are a very small team and there are always some shifts to be covered and something to be taken care of.

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

Helping others, being kind, fully engaging with your community’s needs are characteristics that are at the heart of the librarianship. These are among the simple things that motivate me as a librarian, but also as a person. Panitza Library is a place like no other on campus. My colleagues and I strongly believe in ‘being there’ for our patrons, in assisting them achieve their goals and succeed in life, by offering them professional support, compassion, and respect. Walking that extra mile is worth it.

I feel lucky to be able to work in the best academic library in Bulgaria with the most enthusiastic and dedicated team, where we try to provide excellent service and resources, friendly atmosphere, where we encourage creativity, innovations and exploration, respect equally, and defend privacy.

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I find inspiration in music, theater, art, partly because of my upbringing. Being in the nature, walking, hiking, and running also harmonize me and I try to do it as often I can.

What's something about you few people know?

Art Deco is my favorite style of arts. It’s been a long passion of mine.

Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?

This is very difficult to answer, as I love traveling and keep fond memories of every place I visit. I have the perception of the explorer who values the abundance of cultural experiences in life.

The last trip I had was this summer when I was in Cambridge and Boston, USA. I was accepted at one of the Harvard’s Graduate School of Education professional development programs for academic librarians. It was a priceless personal and professional experience. It broadened my vision of the Library’s role, it gave me the chance to learn and stretch beyond my normal work-related boundaries, to envision more clearly the challenges that lay ahead and how to meet the new standards for supporting study, research, and student & faculty engagement. At this point of my professional career, it was an important step in order to lead effectively Panitza library and my team.

Cambridge and Boston are beautiful places to visit and I absolutely loved their remarkable rhythm. One day, would like to go back there.

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?

In the matter of fact, I have another profession. However, I never even thought of going back to teaching literature, as I fully embrace with joy and gratitude what I do now.

The librarian profession is extremely dynamic and challenging, and this is exactly what I like about it. Constantly learning new skills, applying innovations, thinking of solutions, and adopting a mindset of continuous improvement are some of my current goals to respond adequately to the changes, occurring in the library field. I believe it’s the right path for our library.

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