2008-08-18 | News
DPI and National Library Joint Field Trip to Syunik and Vayots Dzor

In a joint initiative with the Armenian National Library, the UN DPI staff visited the municipal and regional libraries, as well as the local Youth Centers in the Southern regions of Syunik and Vayots Dzor. The trip fit well into the campaign on 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and organizers adopted a slogan which said: “Human Rights and the Right to Information Availability.”

During the three-day trip on Aug 14-16, the UN DPI staff, together with the Director, Deputy Director and the assistant staff of the National Library, held meetings with local authorities, librarians, NGO representatives and youth, and disseminated UN publications, materials, posters and handouts.

The National Library Bibliobus gave a wonderful opportunity for mobile exhibitions to be displayed in the cities and towns the team visited. The trip started from the furthest towns of Meghri and Agarak of the furthest Syunik region. Despite being in the closest settlements to the Armenian-Iranian border, the local municipal libraries were in a destitute state, with most of the preservation and maintenance being done through the personal efforts and devotion of the library staff. The Meghri building did not even have proper electricity supply. During the meeting, the local staff told the visitors about their concerns and difficulties they face due to neglect by central and local authorities, as well as their lack of salary for the fourth consecutive month. The visiting team also had a small tour of the Meghri cultural center, where the library is housed.

The head of the Meghri library said they had not received any new materials since 1991. And yet, despite this fact, there were posters and publications from the UN Headquarters in the Children’s section of the library, which local public school teachers of Human Rights had received during their visit to the UN Armenia Office four years ago. The UN DPI staff gave the library several packs of local and regional UN publications, as well as ones received from the Headquarters.

The National Library as well as the Association of Armenian Libraries which both are headed by Mr. Davit Sargsyan also donated various recent publications in Armenian. “The UN has had some cooperation with the regional media, teachers and NGOs; however, it is the first time that the UN DPI is cooperating with the National Library to implement a project on such a scale,” Mr. Sargsyan said.

On the visit to Kapan, the center of the Syunik region, UN DPI Officer in Charge Armine Halajyan held a meeting with the Head of the local Youth Center, and deposited UN materials, posters and publications for the Kapan UN corner, which it hosts. This initiative falls within the scope of the Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Armenian UN Association and UN DPI two years ago. It envisioned the establishment of UN Corners on the premises of regional Youth Centers. The Kapan Youth Center has a successful experience of conducting a Model UN Conference last year organized by Armenian UNA and sponsored by UNCG Armenia. Young members of this Center still remember this event with excitement and look forward to another one to be held this year.

In the Youth Center Hall the visiting team held a discussion with the municipal and regional library representatives on the prospects of a more coherent and institutionalized cooperation. The team also passed through Goris and Sissian, two other cities in Syunik, and deposited similar packages of publications there.

On the last day of the field trip the team went to Yeghegnadzor in the Vayots Dzor region, and visited the local Youth Center and the municipal library. The primary goal of the UN DPI’s visit to the Youth Center was to establish the UN Corner. “It is the first time that we host UN Representatives and get any UN materials since our formal establishment in 2006”, said Hasmik Markaryan, the Head of the local Youth Center .

Similar to the Kapan meeting, the Youth Center in Yeghegnadzor also hosted the discussion with regional, municipal and community libraries. The problem is the same here too: even if the regional central libraries get some kind of assistance, the border-region community libraries are deprived of any assistance or new acquisitions, thus facing the danger of being closed. The team also deposited there the publications and materials for the other major towns of the region, namely for Vayk and Djermuk, which were not included in the visit.

At the end of the field trip, Mrs. Halajyan and Mr. Sargsyan expressed hope and readiness to continue and enhance their cooperation in reaching out to the regional libraries, and, thus, to the public outside of the capital city of Yerevan.

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