The idea of a community public library for Zalau dates from the end of the 19th Century when Salaj organizations such as ASTRA, the Teachers Association and the Women Association were active in promoting reading as a way to improve the cultural life of the region. At the same time, local leaders such as Gavril Trifu fought to establish a “library of the people”. As part of a national reorganization of libraries in Romania, a community library was established in Zalau in 1950. Two years later, it became a regional library, and in 1957 it was named the “Ionita Scipione Badescu” Library, to honor one of the most important cultural leaders from Salaj. During the next ten years, the Salaj library was subordinate to the Cluj Library. In 1968, the I. S. Badescu Library of Salaj became independent and was given the status of official County Library of Salaj County. The community growth was supported by the County Library which became more and more an important leader in local cultural and educational activities.
As a County institution supported by funds from the County Council, the I. S. Badescu Library's mission is to operate primarily to meet the needs of its users.
The objectives established by the library continually adapt in relation to societal changes, focusing on the users, diversifying activities, updating existent and developing new services, securing adequate space for library services, meeting the users' requests for advanced information, cooperating with other public libraries etc.
Starting from 2002, the library has offered free Internet services, developed through the Friends of the Library Association, with the help of Global Libraries Program and Peace Corps. The Friends of the Library (FOL) Association was established in July of 2002 to provide financial support for the County Library. The FOL has received grants from many different sources and has provided the library with new programs and upgraded services.
Beginning in August 2005, registration of new users and lending services were automated. All library books are bar-coded, the TINLIB database is completed, and the Library catalogue is available on line.
Starting in 2008, the Salaj County Library opened 4 new branches: one at the County Hospital, one at the Senior Citizens Club, one at the Acasa
Care and Recovery Center, one at the Emergency Social Center and in 2010 another one, Silvania branch.
These auxiliary sites offer publications, information and entertainment services to the patients and the clients of these medical, social and cultural facilities.
The I.S.Badescu Library is housed in three separate buildings.
The Administrative and Special Services section is home to the general administrative functions of the Library as well as information technology management, cataloguing and new book preparation. Also this section provides special services such as maintaining a bibliography of daily periodicals and the preparation of a Bibliographical Dictionary of Salaj County personages and organizations, as well as methodological training for librarians in villages.
Public relations compartments, which includes:
- The Adult Library - 99.938 volumes. Many cultural activities are organized by this section including a Literature Club for aspiring young writers of poetry and prose.
- The Study Room, with a collection of 68.687 reference works in Romanian and foreign languages. It also contains many rare and historical books and documents.
- The Periodical Reading Room, containing at least 7.500 newspapers and magazines from over 45 different subscriptions to both foreign and Romanian publications. Here users are also provided with access to the LEX EXPERT database.
- The Children's Library serving youngsters up to age 14, with access to 33.749 books. This section also contains the Learning Resource Center developed by the library.
- Play Area - this section offers space dedicated to games, puzzles and various children activities organized by the library.
- Media section, offering over 8.519 CDs, DVDs and video cassettes with movies, cartoons, documentaries, music and games.
- Salaj writers room
- Senior Citizens Club library
- Emergency County Hospital Library
- Training Center/Cultural activities
- Acasa Care and Recovery Center library
- Silvania library
- Emergency Social Center library
- Serving a population of about 250 000 citizens throughout Salaj County
- 81.263 visits every year - average of 423 users per day
- About 238.183 printed materials
- Approximately 7.663 new materials/books acquired each year
- Yearly circulation – rougly 120.781 publications
- 30 employees, out of which 24 professional librarians
- Releasing entrance permit
- Access to databases and collections
- General information
- Reading and studying in reading rooms
- Studying reference books resource in any field
- Lending books at home
- Free public Internet access
- Distant access - (using library services via telephone, fax, e-mail, webpage, services at home)
- Postponing book delivery
- Specialized categorization of the bookshelves
- Facilitating cultural and civic dialogue between various groups or people
- Special assistance in consulting information and research
- Organizing cultural programs, events, exhibitions, literary evenings, debates, book launchings, book presentations etc.
- Complex bibliographical and documentary activities
- Lending books between libraries
- Copying and multiplying documents
- Editing and printing works or documents
- Replacing permits
- Scanning library documents
BIBLIONET is a five-year program that will facilitate free access to information for Romanian citizens by fostering the development of a modern public library system in Romania. Biblionet will help libraries better serve their communities through training and technology as a partnership of IREX, the National Association of Public Libraries and Librarians (ANBPR), local and national governments, and libraries through the country. To achieve this goal, Biblionet will concentrate on four core program components:
- facilitating access to information
- preparing public librarians
- promoting the value of libraries
- fostering government support
2007 - Global Libraries, pilot program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the IREX Foundation, Bucharest
2008 - first point with free public access to computers and Internet opened in Romania at Senior Citizens Club Zalau, County Library Branch and then other 3 libraries have been upgraded in the pilot program
Global Libraries Romania success led then to implement it nationally - BIBLIONET the world in my library
Salaj County Library has made substantial efforts to convince county and local authorities to invest in public libraries to be eligible to apply for this program.
2009 - 25 Public Libraries have been upgraded and equipped with equipment and Internet connection
2010 - 25 Public Libraries were included in the program
2011 - 13 Public Libraries have benefited from the program facilities
2012 - all branches of Salaj County Library and all public libraries from the county were included in the Biblionet Program
By Global Libraries and then Biblionet - world in my library, all Public Libraries in the county coordinated by Salaj County Library provide free public access to computers and the Internet for all audiences.
Equipment purchased by the project:
- 247 computers with sotfware
- 11 laptops
- 65 scanners
- 65 printers
- 65 screens and 65 videoprojectors
- 247 educational software
Total: 1.499.433,49 lei
Pilot project: 155.274,45 lei
Public Libraries: 1,222,506.24 of which equipment: 539,475.62 lei and software: 683,030.62 lei
Training Center of Salaj County Library: 48,073.59 lei (29,306.03 lei for equipment and 18,767.56 lei for software), 3 trainers
11 laptops, 1 projector, 1 screen, 1 scanner, 1 printer
Training for 57 librarians - 73,579.21 lei
Total investments in the renovation and equipping of public libraries in the Salaj county (2008-2012) 770,700 lei
After attempts and discussions, the County Library is hoping to acquire a new building of its own, in which all the sections to be reunited. As a first step in achieving this goal, the County Council of Salaj approved, in March 2009, a grant to research the costs involved in this worthy project.