The National Library of Armenia visiting the National Library of the Czech Republic

Reporter: Tigran Zargaryan, Director, National Library of Armenia (NLA).

Event Location: National Library of the Czech Republic (NKP).

Visit dates: 9 September – 15 September, 2018.

The aim of the visit: To learn how the digitisation processes are organised in NKP, face-to-face meetings and in direct communication with the key figures involved in digitisation processes, exchange of knowledge and best practice on cooperation schemas of NKP with ‘Google Books’. Armenian experience on building digital library modules based on Free/Open Source Software products and Open Access approach will be introduced and discussed as well.

Achieved results: The programme of my visit was prepared by Mr Adolf Knoll – Secretary for Science, Research and International Relations of NKP, and managed by Ms. Ene Päts. My special thanks to both for excellent organization of my professional stay.

Arrival date was September 09, Sunday. After airport pick-up by Ms. Ene, and transportation to the hotel (accommodation was kindly provided by the NKP) free time was allocated for rest.

On Monday meeting and discussions were held between me and Adolf Knoll, regarding my stay, visits, future plans. Mr. Knoll introduced TEI P5 standard for digitization of manuscripts and old printed books (its predecessor, the DOBM standard was in past recommended by UNESCO (Memory of the World) for the documents produced in digitisation). The standard administrators are the National Library of the Czech Republic and the AiP Beroun, Ltd.; its core was created in the EU ENRICH project with participation of several key TEI personalities, while the National Library of the Czech Republic was project coordinator. The digitization standard contains in plus the complete specification of the data package to be delivered incl. naming conventions, image metadata, colour checkers to be used, etc.

After that meeting, I visited Digitisation Center of AiP Beroun Ltd, and had a meeting with Mr Štěpán Černohorský, person in charge for digitisation of NKP manuscripts. It was interesting for me to learn how cooperation between NKP and the private company is organised, how the whole process of digitisation is managed, which formats are used for preservation. Usage of Macbeth colour checking technique was demonstrated in details. Modern trends in digitisation of manuscripts were explained, with demonstration of new technical solutions.

On Wednesday, a meeting with the Director General Mr Martin Kocanda was held. Mr. Adolf Knoll introduced the history of cooperation between NKP and NLA which was initiated in 2012 by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between 2 libraries.

Broad list of topics were discussed. I invited Mr. Martin Kocanda to visit Yerevan in 2019. The invitation was accepted.

A visit to Manuscriptorium and a meeting with Mr Zdeněk Uhlíř was organised. As a person who has been amongst the pioneers of digitising activities in NKP, Mr. Zdeněk introduced a lot of interesting details having relation to the work of Manuscriptorium. Steps for sending the books to Google for digitisation were explained.

Special visit was organised to the conservation department, were I was introduced to the techniques being used for restoration. The staff demonstrated how they are producing homemade materials for restoration. I introduced this approach to the NLA conservators, and they will adopt this approach. Also the survey form for Google digitising activities was introduced and explained. In NLA we also will adopt NKP’s approach for preparation of documents for digitisation, e.g. mechanical cleaning, laboratory treatment, enriching with envelops using acid free paper.

On Thursday was the day of my presentation. The topic of my presentation was “Connecting the Citizens via Digital Libraries: Towards Challenges of the 21st century”. It was 2 hour lecture, during which I covered the library system of Armenia; introduced the activities being carried in the National Library of Armenia; presented the history of building new book printing museum attached to the NLA; introduced the digital library model based on Free/Open Source Software products and Open Access methodology. After my presentation I answered the questions of the audience.

After my presentation, I visited Central Depositary of the National Library in Hostivař. Head of the Digital Collections Division Ms Zuzana Kvašová and her staff explained in details me how the the division is operating, how archiving process for web based content is organised, special lecture regarding technical solutions was done.

This part was totally new for me and for Armenian libraries, and received knowledge hopefully will be possible to implement in Armenia.

One additional meeting, I have with the director of the Czech National Library of Technology Mr. Martin Svoboda (by his request). The main topic was to introduce Armenian experience on implementing Open Access (OA) repositories, developing OA policy in Armenia.