06, 2009

Meeting of the state Preparatory Commission on the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the introduction of printing in Armenia

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The second meeting of the state Preparatory Commission on the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the introduction of printing in Armenia presided over by the Chairman of the Commission, the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sarsgsyan took place today at the Khnko Aper National Children’s Library.

In his opening remarks the President of Armenian said in particular, “The fact that the second meeting of the state Preparatory Commission on the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the introduction of printing in Armenia is taking place at the Khnko Aper National Children’s Library is of course not accidental. It was meant to underscore two points: First, attention toward children’s literature and its fans, and second, attention toward the libraries and the readers.

The state is undertaking certain steps for the resolution of the problems facing children’s literature both in terms of publications as well as its propagation, and that work will be carried on persistently. Is this sufficient? Definitely, not and there is still much to be discussed. Introduction of the children to the world of books is of strategic importance. We all should understand it since tomorrow’s image of Armenia will be shaped by the degree of our success in these undertakings.

The second, not less important issue, is the situation with the libraries. I believe that the nation with the five hundred years of printing traditions deserves also libraries meeting the requirements of the 21st century. In recent years, the state has been steadily allocating funds for the renovation of the libraries. The allocations from the state budget for the National Library and National Children’s Library alone will total in one billion two hundred million Armenian Drams, and general expenditure for the renovation of the libraries in Armenia, including those in the regions, according to the midterm program will reach almost two and a half billion Drams.

I have already instructed the Minister of Urban Development to allocate resources from the unutilized funds of the Ministry and complete the works planned for this year that were previously decided to put off. We must work consistently to fully implement the entire volume of works scheduled for the National Library and National Children’s Library this year.

I have also instructed the Ministry of Finance to included in the state budget 2010 whatever expenses are needed for these two libraries. By the end of the next year we have to have two totally renovated and modern national libraries. However, it is a much broader issue: the libraries must be not only renovated and comfortable but also up to date. Improved services in our libraries and introduction of latest technologies are, I believe, a must.

When printing was invented, the speed of book, knowledge and technology dissemination grew up manifolds. It was an exceptional impetus for the enlightenment and development of the mankind. The Armenian thinkers of the time were among the first to fully appreciate its significance and indispensability for the advancement of our nation. Today, something of the kind is taking place again, when the extensive use of computers once again doubles the speed, and we in general and our libraries in particular simply cannot lag behind these processes.

I instruct the Ministries of Culture, Science and Education along with the National Academy of Sciences to present to this Commission by the end of this year a comprehensive plan for the technical modernization of the National Library and Khnko Aper Children’s National Library. We are capable of developing such a plan by ourselves and the plan should be based on two major principles: first, the National Library must be accessible through the Internet, and second, subscribers to those libraries must have access to electronic catalogues, which grow in number all over the world.

After the Presidential remarks the Commission discussed items on the agenda. The Secretary of the Commission and the Coordinator of the events, the Deputy Chief of the Presidential Staff Vigen Sarkissian made a report on the ongoing activities. He presented areas where the main events would be organized. After the Commission’s deliberations it was decided to preliminary approve the draft plan of events next week, after augmenting it with the comments and new proposals. At the previous meeting of the Commission, the Ministry of Culture was tasked to organize a contest for the best emblem symbolizing the events dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the introduction of printing in Armenia. Deputy Minister David Mouradian presented the results of the contest. It was decided to engage a group of experts to identify the winner among the eight finalists of the contest. Discussed was also the possibility of conducting in Armenia in the framework of the festive events dedicated to the anniversary of printing one of the ongoing international happenings dedicated to books and printing.

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