Twenty Years After: Armenian Research Libraries Today


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A survey of the condition of academic and research libraries in Armenia twenty years after independence, assessed according to the ACRL's Standards for Libraries in Higher Education. Presentation delivered by D. Aram Donabedian and John Carey at Spring Research Forum of LACUNY International Relations Roundtable, May 2012. Drawn from the paper:
Donabedian, D., Carey, J., and Balayan, A. (2012). Twenty years after: Armenian research libraries today. LIBER Quarterly: The Journal of European Research Libraries 22(1), 3-41.
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Twenty Years After: Armenian Research Libraries Today

  1. 1. Twenty Years After: Armenian Research Libraries Today
  2. 2. After more than seventy years of central funding from Moscow, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left its republics without the necessary funds to support their infrastructures.
  3. 3. Monastery libraries
  4. 4. “Gospel of Eight Painters” Title page from illuminated manuscript of Gospel of Matthew by Armenian artist Toros Roslin, 13th century
  5. 5. First Armenian printed book, “Urbatagirk (Friday Book)”, 1512
  6. 6. Yerevan
  7. 7. Yerevan State University Yerevan State University (YSU) Library, with two million volumes, was established in 1920 and is the oldest academic library in Armenia. Thirteen thousand students are enrolled in Armenia's largest university in 20 faculties and in more than one hundred departments.
  8. 8. The National Library of Armenia The National Library of Armenia is the country's library of record and holds copies of all works published within its borders. It is also the largest repository of rare and early printed Armenian books from 1512 to the present. The Library was founded in 1832 and is comprised of approximately seven million volumes.
  9. 9. The Fundamental Scientific Library The Fundamental Scientific Library (FSL) of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia was founded in 1935 and contains three million volumes. These include 16th through 18th century works in Armenian, Russian and other languages. In addition, the library has 27 special collections of the papers of eminent Armenian artists and scientists and regularly publishes various bibliographies and biographies.
  10. 10. The Republican Scientific-Medical Library (RSML) of Armenia Established in 1939 as the main source of medical information for health professionals, the library's collection is comprised of 500,000 volumes. "The RSML . . . provides education and training to health professionals and health sciences librarians, and manages a national network of libraries of the major health care institutions in Armenia" (Braude, R.M., Shirinyan, A. & Zargaryan, T., 2001).
  11. 11. The American University of Armenia, Papazian Library The Papazian Library of the American University of Armenia was established in 1991 with the founding of the university. AUA’s beginnings coincided to the day with the founding of the second Armenian Republic. The library contains over 42,500 volumes and readers may also access 73,000 online journals and books. It is Armenia's only fully open- stack library.
  12. 12. Mission, Goals and Objectives • “[T]he libraries surveyed here display a heterogeneous range of missions. . . . The libraries . . . employ diverse means of evaluating their performance and informing patrons of the library’s accomplishments.”
  13. 13. Services • “[F]our out of the five libraries maintain and utilize qualitative and quantitative measurements in terms of their ability to serve users. . . . [A]ttention is centered on supporting the following activities: acquiring new digital resources, digitizing existing collections and meeting accreditation guidelines.”
  14. 14. Instruction • “[T]he role of the librarian as one who works with teaching faculty to develop library curricula in support of specific courses was not as widespread in these libraries as it currently is in their Western counterparts. Perhaps this will change as Armenian higher education moves beyond the more regimented Soviet model.”
  15. 15. Resources • “The responses gathered here reveal additional factors unique to Armenia’s social and political history that can pose additional complications. . . . The libraries studied here also expressed a growing interest in open access.”
  16. 16. Access • “The Electronic Library Consortium of Armenia (ELCA) . . . is comprised of university libraries, national libraries, research institute libraries, and special libraries . . . and focuses its activities on “[c]ollective access to e- resources, education and training, local systems and union catalog services” (
  17. 17. Outcome Assessment • “[M]ost libraries examined here do not undergo formal evaluation by an outside body or agency, but do implement their own measures for assessing performance and obtaining user feedback.”
  18. 18. Staff • Lack of a national standard hampers professional development • Armenian MLIS program aligns itself with European library standards • Program goals: to prepare students for "a diverse variety of careers in library administration, public services, technical services, reference services and collection development...." • However, curriculum weighted toward technical services and library/systems technology without a corresponding strength in the other areas listed
  19. 19. Facilities • “Maintaining or improving the library’s physical plant is a priority for most of these libraries. . . . [C]oncerns centered around the age or condition of buildings, access or proper space for patrons, or around issues of information technology infrastructure.”
  20. 20. Communication and Cooperation • “Overall, the libraries seek to employ effective strategies that allow for the free flow of information; encourage staff to suggest new ideas or procedures; establish a regular means to exchange information; engender effective working relationships with other departments on campus . . . ; provide technical support for information technology; and maintain networks sufficient to provide reasonable response times for local and remote information.”
  21. 21. Administration • “In response to the question, how effective are the policies and procedures that determine internal library governance operations . . . three [out of five] respondents gave no reply. . . .”
  22. 22. Budget • “Respondents indicated . . . that the library has sufficient money for basic needs but only for survival, not growth. . . . [T]he library most comfortable with its current budget is . . . the American University of Armenia.”
  23. 23. Recommendations • Budgetary challenges • Open access publishing and open source software • MLIS degree/national standards • Information Literacy Donabedian, D., Carey, J., and Balayan, A. (2012). Twenty years after: Armenian research libraries today. LIBER Quarterly: The Journal of European Research Libraries 22(1).