During April 2019 the Belmont, Massachusetts Public Library is displaying a selection of books, DVDs and CDs on the Armenian Genocide and Armenian history and culture. Library Director Peter Struzziero and his staff facilitated the display of items which can be borrowed by patrons. The library is part of the Minuteman Library Network, a regional consortium of 36 public and five college libraries. The Network contains several hundred Armenian titles.
Belmont’s April display has so far included The History of the Armenian Genocide by Vahakn Dadrian; Killing Orders by Taner Akçam; Architects of Denial, a film by Dean Cain and Montel Williams; Armenia, the Survival of a Nation by Christopher Walker; Tadem, My Father’s Village by Robert Aram Kaloosdian; Neither to Laugh nor to Weep by Abraham and Vartan Hartunian; Goodbye, Antoura by Karnig Panian; Treasures from the Ark: 1700 Years of Armenian Christian Art by Vrej Nersessian; Komitas-Aslamazian, a CD by the Chilingarian Quartet; Armenian Folk Arts, Culture, and Identity by Levon Abrahamian and Nancy & Sam Sweezy; The History of Armenia by Simon Payaslian; The Kingdom of Armenia by M. Chahin; Armenia and Karabagh Travel Guide by Matthew Karanian; The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel; The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian; and other titles. As items are borrowed, additional ones are added.
A group of local Armenian Americans conceived the idea of a library display for Armenian Genocide Commemoration Month. They suggested nearly 40 titles available in the Minuteman Network on topics and genres such as the Armenian Genocide, history, religion, art, music, film, food, travel and fiction. The group consisted of Jirair Hovsepian, Lucine Kasbarian, Heather Krafian, Marc Mamigonian, Judith Ananian Sarno and the author.
Hovsepian brought about the town’s annual official proclamation on the Armenian Genocide and is an elected member of Belmont’s Town Meeting which decides the town’s budget and bylaws. Kasbarian is an author and a political cartoonist. Krafian is a board member of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern Region and co-chairs St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School’s Committee in nearby Watertown. Mamigonian is the Director of Academic Affairs at the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). Ananian Sarno is active on town government boards and is an elected member of Belmont’s Town Meeting. The author is a freelance journalist and activist.
The Belmont Media Center is producing a community cable television spot about the display, along with a brief interview with this article’s author. The spot will be available on the center’s website.
America’s public libraries are, more than ever, actively contributing to community life. They are open to civic sponsorship of and participation in such events and activities as author presentations, lectures, exhibits, films, musical entertainment and reading groups for both adults and children.
Libraries are a valuable community resource to which Armenian-Americans should contribute.