Libraries call for attention

8 April 05

In an article in Yerkir's previous issue we presented findings of the
scientific-practical conference on public libraries of Armenia in the
yearsafter independence that was held at the National Library.

According to this information, during the 14 years after independence
the number of public libraries in Armenia has decreased to 1082 from
the previous number of 1318.

The number of available books has decreased to 12,587,814 from the
previous number of 15,019,014. The number of library users has
decreased to 622,817 from the previous number of 1,080,687. Director
of the National Library Davit Sargsian believes these numbers are a
result of neglect and arbitrary attitude towards the libraries and
cultural institutions on the part of the local self government bodies.

`Some officials often ask us whether we need libraries at all. Every
literate person has to understand that libraries are absolutely
necessary for us since many bookstores were closed and the books are
now sold in the underground passageways.

I do not object to reasonable optimization through closing some of the
libraries. It is better to have 700 libraries out of the existing 1082
but to have them in a good condition in accordance with modern
requirements,' Sargsian pointed out adding that the library
administrations have to reorganize their activities to achieve better
management and marketing in order not to be left aside from
international developments in library standards.

Deputy Director of the National Library Rafik Ghazarian believes that
some of the local self-government bodies tend to forget that the
library books are not their own property but have been given to them
for temporary use only.

`Books as cultural values of state importance have to be in the center
of the attention of corresponding agencies. Villages should have
libraries. Different communities might find different solutions to
this problem. Village libraries can be joined with school
libraries. In any case, the readers cannot be deprived of their right
to access books,' Ghazarian says.

Chief librarian of the National Library Lena Danielian added that the
situation in the public libraries will improve if centralized catalog
systems are introduced to the libraries. Many community libraries do
not receive newspapers and journals.

Some of the libraries on the regional level are unaware of the
activities of the village libraries. `The regional libraries have to
become centers for organizing the activities of all the libraries in
the given region', Danielian concluded.

By Armine Ghazarian