Archives and libraries
The Albano-Balcanological collection of the Albanian Literature Commission began as a joint Albanian and Austrian institution established in Shkodra in 1917102. The National Library in Tirana was the country’s first public and non-religious state institution, founded in 1920. After WWII, public libraries opened in smaller urban centres. The first documented effort to create a Central Archive is the decision dated 02.01.1932 of the High State Council, to review the draft-regulation for the registration of important events.
Private collections from this period103 and earlier were mostly destroyed by circumstances or confiscated by the government by 1950.
In 1947, the Documentary Archive of the Institute was created at the Institute of Studies, followed by The Central State Archive (AQSH) in 1949, established as a central body under the Institute of Studies, by the Council of Ministers Order Nr. 21/ 08.06.1949. The Central State Film Archive was founded on 10 April 1947. In 1948 the decree was passed whereby copies of all books published in Albania were obligatorily sent to the National Library, making it also the archive of all publications in the country. This has been amended several times and exists today as the Law on the Compulsory Donation of Books, approved in 1992 and ensuring 5 copies of each title printed are given to the National Library. By 1957 the first University Libraries were opened.
The first 2-year part-time training course was opened in the National Library in 1969, and continues to attract new librarians today. In addition to providing the basic skills to future librarians, the course publishes and distributes various training handbooks, classification tables, and other professional materials, including the journal Library Bulletin (Buletini i Bibliotekave) which is published twice a year.
There is a Parliament archive from 1991, which currently includes all acts, laws online104, a Presidential archive from 1993, the Centre of Official Publications105 – the largest online archive for all government documents, and several ministries and other public institutions have digitized archives, increasing access to information.
The Library Act Nr. 8576, approved on 3/02/2000, provides the legislative and the institutional framework relating to the funding and management of public libraries in Albania. The Law provides for the functioning of libraries as a unique national network and also considers them to be an integral part of the national system of information. The Law recognises the particular responsibility and role of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, at the time, to provide strategies and policies for the development of the national system of libraries, regardless of which other authority or agency is responsible for them.
According to Library Act Nr. 8576 03/02/2000, Article 14, amended on 8 April, 2004 by Act Nr. 9217, Article 5, provides for the establishment of the National Council of Libraries as the advisory body to the Minister. It provides advice and recommendations related to the training of librarians, infrastructure needs of public libraries, as well as setting the norms and rules regarding the standardisation of library services in Albania. The National Council of Libraries assists the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to draft and implement strategies and policies, as well as to follow the activities of the libraries nationally.
The National Library106 in Tirana, which celebrated its 100th anniversary, has increased its online digital collection, and the National Film Archive107, established in 2006, also a subordinate of the Ministry of Culture, has successfully restored several films and improved digitization, cataloguing and promotion of Albanian films.
There are municipal libraries, university libraries, and others at The Centre for Openness and Dialogue at the Prime Ministry, the Academy of Sciences, while the Arts University Library contains 35,000 volumes. In 2019, Tirana municipality operated 8 libraries, but not all municipal units were administering a library. From 2017-2019, seven of the eight libraries were updated.
The INSTAT 2020 Business registry lists 37 companies under “libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities”.
Based on the proposal from the Minister of Culture, the Council of Ministers decided108 to establish the National Book and Reading Centre in 2019, which previously was a department within the Ministry of Culture.
Also, the Centre for Diaspora Publications at the Ministry of Diaspora for the school year 2019-2020, distributed 12,000 educational books in the Albanian language in 19 different countries109.
In 2020, the e-Albanica Digital Library contained 154 books (1873- 1944); 127 collections of Albanian retrospective magazines, mainly of cultural character (1883-1944); 123 antiques (1473-1800); 178 manuscripts (1106-1945); 78 maps (1560-1800)110.