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IT IS TIME NOT ONLY TO THINK, BUT TO WORK... Armenian News Network / Groong May 27, 2002 By Sylva Natalie Manoogian YEREVAN, ARMENIA On the occasion of the Armenia-Diaspora conference taking place these days in our homeland, visiting fellow Armenians are using this opportunity to participate in various productive meetings, plan collaborative programs and reach understandings. One such Diaspora Armenian, Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of the N.Y.-based Carnegie Corporation, who is especially interested in supporting the development of library work in Armenia, visited the National Library of Armenia (NLA) on Wednesday, 23 May 2002, to meet with its Administration and staff and investigate the feasibility of implementing joint projects toward that end. Participating in the meeting were: National Library Director, David Sargisyan; Rafik Ghazaryan, Deputy Director for Internal Operations; Shota Keropyan, Finance Deputy; Karine Arabyan, Section Manager; Hrant Tazayan, Assistant to Director; Juliet Kostikyan, Administrative Secretary; Nerses Hayrapetyan, Deputy Director for External Operations and President, Armenian Library Association. Also present at the meeting were: Anri Nersesyan, Director, National Academy of Sciences Fundamental Library; and Sylva Natalie Manoogian, International Library Consultant, Los Angeles, CA, who is a founding member and `godmother' of the Armenian Library Association. Dr. Gregorian expressed his observations of the changes in Armenia since his last visit in 1966, his familiarity with the National Library, and his recognition of the obvious economic challenges and needs of the country. In response to his question about what issues are of greatest concern and importance for the National Library, Library administrators highlighted the following areas: automation and technology, reader services, facilities improvement, microfilming and digitization, periodical subscriptions, reference materials, publications, bibliographies, and indexes. Dr. Gregorian stated that he does not make empty promises, and that he is a person of action. He affirmed his personal commitment and institutional support, the latter of which made possible `Strengthening Library Associations in the South Caucasus: A Regional Workshop,' held in May 2001 in Tbilisi, Georgia, as a collaborative effort of the Library Associations of the United States, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia; and the planning and celebration of National Library Week in Armenia's libraries from April 14 to 20, 2002, at the same time as this event was being marked in the libraries of the United States and the Republic of Georgia. The gathering closed with a pleasant surprise, as National Library Director Sargisyan and Armenian Library Association President Hayrapetyan presented Dr. Gregorian with gifts of library and personal publications, Armenian National Library Week 2002 posters, and awarded him the first Armenian printer (1512) Hakob Meghapart Medal for his `singular international contributions toward confirming the vital role of all libraries in creating and sustaining civil society.' Gagik Minasyan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Hayastani Hanrapetutiun Armenian daily, who represented his newspaper at the meeting, asked Dr. Gregorian about his expectations of the upcoming Armenia-Diaspora conference, to which he replied: `Armenia for us is a perception and a people. It is our homeland. I always say that the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia are one body, with two lungs, the smaller of which is Diaspora and the larger, Armenia. If one of those lungs becomes disabled, the other must breathe for both; and they need each other. Armenia cannot govern Diaspora. She must govern herself. Diaspora must be able to give advice, support. But above all, whatever financial and economic resources we have must be used here. I don't think that independence has any value if Armenia has no work, no economy, no health. If we remain weak, in one or two years we will become the community of either Iran, or Turkey, or Russia, which can take our entire economy with 200 or 300 million. Therefore, we must maintain our store, our position, and our house in good condition. That is why whoever comes from Diaspora (they must come, visit, develop tourism), will help emotionally and economically. We must bring sufficient funds here, not for charity, but for work, because Armenians don't need charity, but work. Next, we must raise the consciousness that Armenians are cerebral, thinking people, and not only shopkeepers and businessmen. Business is good, but it is not enough to keep us. We must always have the ability, as much as possible, to bring financial wealth, knowledge, and talent into Armenia. We must always be conscious that intellect and talent are limitless. Armenia has always been rich in talent and people. Individually, we can always be on a par with any nation, but collectively we at times have no worth, because we don't understand each other. When it is ours, we start to criticize and cast stones. But with outsiders, we become subservient, `a tireless ox.' Obsession with things foreign has given us occasions for disunion in the past also. Of course, no matter how different we are, what different ideas we have, we must not be divergent. Let us look around. Turkey, with its 70 million population, has a good economy; Iran and Russia have visions of development. We are in an ocean. We don't have the time to rest our hands on our foreheads like the Bagratunis to think and ponder; we must raise our hands toward the sword, toward the work. When you are in the ocean, you can't think about what your goal is, and how you are going to save yourself. If you don't swim, you will drown. Therefore, we must swim; our entire hope, our entire life is dependent upon our swimming, our working. Conferences are important, because many people don't know Armenia, and the people of Armenia don't know the Diaspora. Many want to be more patriotic than those who live in the homeland. Those who live in Armenia say that if you are so patriotic, why don't you live in Armenia? The important thing is how we can help Armenia. We must understand the current situation. When your child has learned, it is not longer a matter of honor. People already have a need to accept bribes, and to worship money. The Diaspora must understand that this country has a need for necessities. It needs work, plans, and collective energy. Let us not be honorable beggars like Abisoghom Agha; let us not come and be photographed with what we have brought and shout, look, I have given one dollar to my homeland. Let us be wise, let us come together and focus our strengths.' In summary, Dr. Gregorian emphasized the fact that funding agencies are interested in seeing cooperation among the three republics of the South Caucasus - Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. He encouraged focus on collaboration of university and other academic libraries, and requested that the National Library prepare a list of its areas of need, in order of priority, including the institutions, organizations, and individuals that have already been identified as potential partners, supporters, and advocates. Sylva Natalie Manoogian, International Library Consultant, representing the American Library Association's Emerging Democracies Committee, and working with Nerses Hayrapetyan in the preliminary planning of the second South Caucasus Library Symposium, `Fostering Civil Society: Improving Access to Information in Academic Libraries in the South Caucasus,' to be held in Yerevan from September 26 to 30, 2002, commented on the success of the 2001 conference, and the benefits of continued collaboration for all libraries concerned. For further information regarding library activities in Armenia and abroad, visit the homepage of the Armenian Library Association, www.iatp.am/ala or ALLIC: ARMENIAN LIBRARIANS & LIBRARIES INFORMATION COMMITTEE Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table American Library Association Contact: Sylva Natalie Manoogian Tel/FAX: 1-323-254-4892 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site: http://home.att.net/~amatosian/allic.html