The Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) launches the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists

The US Armenians
12 Oct 2021

The Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) launches the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists - The US Armenians

The Society for Armenian Studies has announced the creation of the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists, a new organization operating under the umbrella of the SAS, with the goal to provide an international forum for information specialists working broadly with Armenian topics and materials. IAALA plans to host online events and to create standing committees to address acquisitions, cataloging, research and reference, preservation, and digitization issues. It also intends to be an advocate for the need of Armenian expertise in the libraries of public institutions throughout the world.

IAALA was born through discussions that followed the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States Congress, when Nora Avetyan of UCLA and Ani Boyadjian of the Los Angeles Public Library spearheaded a successful effort to change the official subject heading of the Library of Congress from “Armenian Massacres” to “Armenian Genocide.” Two other members of that committee, Levon Avdoyan (Library of Congress, retired) and Seda Aykanian Matevosian (Vahan and Anoush Chamlian Armenian School) joined Avetyan and Boyadjian in the efforts to realize an association of Armenian librarians and archivists. In conversation with the Executive Committee of the Society for Armenian Studies, they established IAALA under the aegis of SAS as an organization that would support librarians and archivists of Armenian material and to bridge the divide between the librarian and scholarly worlds.

The mission statement of the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists affirms: “The last few decades have witnessed the enrichment of existing libraries and archives that hold Armenian materials of all types as well as the creation of new private and public facilities both in the United States and around the globe. The primary purpose of the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists is to provide a forum for the information specialists and those associated with these institutions to discuss topics of mutual interest, to seek solutions to problems and questions as they develop, and to establish a much-needed connection between scholars and researchers who either may need their services or who may not know where needed materials exist. As a group associated with the Society for Armenian Studies, the Association follows the rules and regulations of that body.”

The executive committee of IAALA is made up of a truly international group of librarians and archivists, chaired by prominent scholar Levon Avdoyan (Library of Congress, retired). The other members of the executive committee include Boris Adjemian (Nubarian Library, Paris), Nora Avetyan (UCLA), Ani Boyadjian (Los Angeles Public Library), Anna Chulyan (National Library of Armenia and Armenian Library Association, Yerevan), Nerses Hayrapetyan (U.S. Embassy, Yerevan), Seda Aykanian Matevosian (Vahan & Anoush Chamlian Armenian School), Khatchig Mouradian (Library of Congress), and Tigran Zargaryan (National Library of Armenia, retired, and Armenian Digital Library). Christopher Sheklian (Radboud University) serves as the liaison from the SAS and Emilio Bonfiglio (University of Tübingen) serves as the liaison from the Association Internationale des Etudes Arméniennes.

The Chair of the IAALA Executive Committee, Levon Avdoyan, commented on establishment of the Association by saying: “As we expand the executive committee to include an international membership of superbly qualified colleagues, Ani, Nora, Seda, and I want to thank Bedross Der Matossian and the SAS for their patience and guidance during the months we laid the foundation of IAALA. Our purpose was both to give a voice to and to provide a much-needed forum for librarians and archivists around the world who deal with all Armenian materials. Librarians and archivists are usually quiet about their work, so it is no surprise that they have not advertised the importance of the discipline. Much of the retention, preservation, processing, and dissemination and interpretation of Armenian material culture is due to their efforts. We hope that IAALA will unite the library and archives communities around the world to meet the modern challenges facing the profession and lead bright young talent to join with us to guarantee a bright future for our institutions.”

“We are truly excited about this major initiative,” said SAS President Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska, Lincoln). “While we have organizations and societies dedicated to Armenian Studies, this is the first time in history that an international association of Armenian librarians and archivists has been established with a global presence under the leadership of Dr. Levon Avdoyan, a leading expert in the field. From Washington D.C. to Paris and from Yerevan to Tübingen, the Association will play a major role in advancing the field of Armenian Studies on the national and international levels. The commitment of the executive committee of the International Association of Armenian Librarians and Archivists and their mission inspire hope of strengthening the field of Armenian Studies and to raise its academic standards.”

The SAS, founded in 1974, is the international professional association representing scholars and teachers in the field of Armenian Studies. The aim of the SAS is to promote the study of Armenian culture and society, including history, language, literature, and social, political, and economic questions.

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