Law no. 334/2003 – the Law on Libraries – is the primary legal act that regulates the establishment, organisation and functioning of the public libraries and of those private libraries carrying out activities that are specific to public libraries and which together form the national library system. This system is a part of the national information system, which aims at ensuring a unified performance of library activities and to stimulate public reading. The national system of libraries includes the National Library of Romania, the Romanian Academy Library, university libraries, specialised libraries, public libraries and school libraries.
Amongst the specialised staff, which consists of librarians, bibliographers, researchers, editors, documentarists, conservators, system engineers, programmers, operators, analysts, custodians, handlers, store managers and other staff, there are no professionals to handle tasks such as public relations, liaison with the community or education (which requires school teaching or adult education skills).
An important provision (paragraph 8 of Article 70) related to solving the chronic lack of premises, specific facilities and equipment: namely stimulating private sponsors to invest in construction of library buildings; to purchase specific facilities, information technology devices and documentation; stimulation of private investments in funding programmes for ongoing training of librarians, expert exchanges, professional development scholarships and attending international congresses. In exchange for such investments, the investors would have been allowed tax incentives proportionate to the worth of the project or of the initiative funded, plus a 2% reduction of their income tax. Unfortunately, Law 334/2003 was repealed following the enactment of the 2003 Fiscal Code.
A provision of the Law no. 186/2003 on print culture items considered setting up a fund for the acquisition of publications (in the “print culture” category) for public libraries and for the granting of vouchers used to purchase such publications by public library users: pupils, students, people with an monthly income of less than the minimum national monthly wage, and impaired people. The fund was to be constituted from the 0.4% share of the net profit of the National Lottery Company SA and managed by the Ministry of Culture. In 2012, the provision regarding the granting of such vouchers (article 23 of the Law) was repealed.
Romania has aligned to the proposal of library digitisation launched by the European Commission as early as 1999 with a view to informational development, within successive initiatives (e-Europe, e-Europe 2005, the i2010 initiative) that promote economic growth and increasing employment rate in the information society and media industries.
Archive activity is regulated by the National Archives Law No. 16/1996, republished, which establishes the regulatory framework governing the organisation, functioning and the responsibilities of the National Archives as an institution with a methodological and control role in relation to all creators and owners of archives. The law also defines the National Archives Fund of Romania, comprising documents created over time by state bodies, public or private economic, social, cultural, military and religious organisations, by freelancers, professionals working under a special law and individuals, who benefit from special protection. Although the National Archives Directorate does not belong, from an administrative viewpoint, to the system of public cultural institutions, by its very activity this institution participates, along with libraries and museums, in the preservation and safeguarding of the cultural and historic resources, thereby falling under the category of institutions engaged in cultural and artistic activities. However, due to failure to include this type of activity amongst the creative and cultural ones, this very important sector cannot be monitored or reported across the cultural sectors, which is why the performance indicators for Romania show lower values compared to the other EU Member States (Eurostat).
Table. Economic performance – Archives and libraries
|Turnover evolution by CCS sub-sectors (thousand RON)||480,250.9||483,399.6||489,356.3||533,552.1||689,948.3|
|Headcount evolution by sub-sectors||4,783||5,390||5,060||5,366||6,233|
|Profit evolution by sub-sectors (thousand RON)||51,528||45,431||50,499||51,983||88,078|
|Labour productivity evolution (turnover in thousand RON/headcount)||100||90||97||99||111|
|Number of companies||180||226||269||317||374|
Source: Borg Design Database, INCFC analyses
Despite a slight positive trend recorded in the period under review, this sector ranks among the last in line in terms of economic performance. However, it is important to note that the performance indicators in the table above refer to the business conducted by private organisations, with the largest share represented by archive companies. Given the predominant preservation function of this sector and the very large share of public organisations, we believe that, in this case, the importance of this sector resides mostly in its social and community roles support and some clearer regulations are absolutely necessary.