The library is named after Ghazaros Aghayan. Traditions of the past and high hopes for the future

The oldest public library in Armenia, the Dilijan Central Library named after Ghazaros Aghayan, operates in Dilijan. For over a century, the library has delighted book lovers of the city with masterpieces of Armenian, Russian, and world classical literature, professional and scientific literature, nonfiction, and novelties of modern authors.

The library has a rich history, a remarkable past, an uncertain present, and many hopes for the future. How did it all begin? How is the first public library of Armenia working now? You can find the answers by reading our material.

The people of Dilijan put their hearts into it

The library was founded in 1908 and worked under the only parochial school at that time. An honored school teacher Hovhannes Zakarian became the chief librarian. He noted in his memoirs:

“In 1908 a branch of the Armenian Charitable Society of Tiflis was opened in Dilijan. The same year the newly-formed library separated from the school and was named after Ghazaroz Aghayan for the 40th anniversary of the writer. The new library started working as an independent organization, the book collection consisted of several dozen books.”

The foundation was laid. The further development of the library was made possible thanks to the reverent attitude of the Dilijan residents and their donations.

“The book collection of the library was replenished every day with works of Armenian, Russian, and world classics, as well as philosophical, medical, agrarian, and other professional literature. Dilijan residents have put their hearts in the library from the very beginning,” says Aida Aproyan, the head of the City Central Library named after Ghazaroz Aghayan.

In 1909 a literary club was formed at the library, where creative evenings, discussions, and meetings were held. Soon the club became one of the favorite places for Dilijan residents, especially in winter, and on warm days, the creative intellectuals gathered in the "Rotonda" summer theater. 

Thanks to a rich creative life and the promotion of reading, Dilijan by the early XX century was distinguished by a fairly high level of literacy of the population.

The meeting place of Armenian intellectuals

Over the years, exhibitions of local artists, and literary evenings were organized, performances were staged, and young musicians performed here. Particularly noteworthy are the meetings with outstanding representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia. Martiros Saryan, Avetik Isahakyan, Paruyr Sevak, Hrachya Kochar, and many other writers, scientists, and public figures visited here.

“All the important economic, political, cultural, and social events happening in the country were discussed here. Significant anniversaries and events were celebrated here,” Aida Aproyan emphasizes.

In 1974 the library moved to a new building. And a year later, based on the Library after Ghazaros Aghayan, a centralized system of libraries was created, which to this day includes 8 public and 2 children's libraries in the city and nearby settlements.

“It was the heyday of our library. We won at all-Union contests, foreign experts came to visit us to share experiences. But, alas, the tragic earthquake of 1988 left its imprint on Dilijan as well. Our library building was also damaged, and we had to leave it,” Aida Aproyan says.

At present, the library operates in the Palace of Culture, which is also in disrepair, and in winter there is no heating at all.

“It seemed to us that we were here temporarily, and after the restoration of the former building, we would be asked to go back. But we've been here for many years. No matter what, we work like we used to, help our visitors, cooperate with publishing houses, provide our library with literary novelties, work with archives and collect data about the city. We continue to organize meetings, evenings, and events, although in a bit reduced circumstances,” the head of the library notes, without hiding that the uncertain situation is very depressing because frequent relocations cause damage to the book collection.

Dilijan is still a city of book lovers

Aida Aproyan has been working in the library for 40 years, she moved to Dilijan from Yerevan, where she also worked in the library after Isahakyan. The head of the library assures us that today Dilijan is still a city of book lovers. Every day the library hosts 50 readers! And now, during the summer holidays, there are a lot of schoolchildren in the library, who traditionally borrow books for summer reading.

“Yes, Dilijan is a very reading city. It’s a city of creative people and intellectuals,” she notes.

To date, according to her, Russian-speaking migrants also visit the library. They are amazed by the wide selection of books in Russian, and the rich department of culturology. 

“Contrary to stereotypes, we have a very interesting job. We really love our job. We look for books at the request of our readers and help them make their choice. Our co-workers are all like that! They know about all industries, all the novelties, and the preferences of readers.And this is the most interesting part of our job. You have to be aware of everything. After all, different people come to us, and we must respond to their requests,” Aida Aproyan says.

Hasmik Hakobyan also confirms the fact that Dilijan is truly a reading city. She is a library employee, who has been working here since 1975. She is quite modest when she talks about her job, but many generations of Dilijan book lovers know her, and her colleagues call her the key pillar of the library.

“Everyone thinks that young people are no longer interested in reading, but this is not the case at all. Sometimes we don't even have time to respond to their requests. You can see it yourself now (indeed, during our visit there were many readers in the library, and a real working atmosphere prevailed.- Approx. ed.) I am very happy about it. In addition to curriculum university and school literature, young people now prefer motivational literature. And we are trying to replenish our collection with modern literature,” she says.

Reduced conditions and commitment to work in an emergency building for today, high hopes, and long-term plans for tomorrow. All this atmosphere fills up our working days. Meanwhile, the library continues to carefully preserve the cultural traditions of Dilijan, which still has not lost the status of one of the most reading cities in Armenia.

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