ARMENIA AND DIASPORA IN A SINGLE LITERARY HUB VLUME: THE PAN-ARMENIAN DIGITAL LIBRARY

The first audio-book was recorded in the noise of warring Aleppo. It was later when the project initiators from the remote shores of America heard the echos of horrible shootings in the lines of Raffi’s “Jallaledine”. The audiobook was narrated by Margarit Shamlyan directed by Berjouhy Avedian, and produced by Hagop Tovmassian who built the recording studio from the scratch with whatever materials available during the ruins of the war. “The sound of war in the background of the raw recordings was horrifying, however, for the recording team it was just another day, they did not even notice it. Some even suggested to keep them in the final version as an acknowledgment of the dedication of the team”, says Mardig Tcholakian, co-founder of “Technolinguistics” cultural non-governmental organization.

Where to look for Armenian digital books? What are the best ways of offering them to the readers? How to best promote new authors and publishers? These are key questions for which solutions are being designed by the founders of “Technolinguistics” NGO. Young people who grew up in Diaspora have come around the idea of creating a single hub for Armenian literature and making it available for all Armenians of across Armenia and the Diasporas: the initiative by Rosie Vartyter Aroush, Hagop Hagopian, Haig Norian, Razmig Haroun, Khachatour Kocharyan and Mardig Tcholakian has found its address in Armenia in 2015. Since 2018, “Technolinguistics”, is also supported by “BRIDGE for CSOs”.

“BRIDGE for CSOs” is a three-year project implemented by AGBU Armenia jointly with Eurasia Partnership Foundation by the funding from the European Union. The main objective of the project which started in 2016 is to combine the professional potential of youth from Armenia and Diaspora, to use the knowledge and skills of Armenians in Diaspora for the capacity building of NGOs in Armenia. The project encourages and provides pro-bono consultancy to NGOs operating in various fields to achieve the best results in the areas of their activity. The “BRIDGE for CSOs” project has also given sub-grants to Armenian organizations, including “Technolinguistics”. Out of 735 applications received 49 non-governmental organizations were awarded grants, the majority of which operates in the provinces (marzes), and the fields vary from cultural to social-economical. “Traditionally, in Armenia, it is accepted to award a grant to NGOs who have “good grant history”. However, our approach is different: with “BRIDGE for CSOs” project we mostly encourage innovative, interesting ideas; we even give a chance to the initiative groups to speak out their ideas, and then to get registered as an organization”, says Hasmik Hayrapetyan, “BRIDGE for CSOs” project officer.

VLUME online library is one of the initiatives of “Technolinguistics”. Today it represents the largest Armenian digital library that offers free and subscription-based access to a growing number of ebooks and audiobooks, containing classical and modern examples of Armenian literature, both in Eastern and Western Armenian. As a result of collaboration with leading Armenian publishers in Armenia and Diaspora, VLUME also continues adding to its library titles by new Armenian authors and foreign literature translated into Armenian. Participating publishers make some of their books available free of charge, otherwise a monthly subscription grants the reader access to the entire library.
 
To have a rich Armenian digital library which would offer variety of choices of titles to all Armenian readers of different tastes and interests, both in Eastern and Western Armenian, accessible for reading (ebooks) and listening (audiobooks), is the key principle by which VLUME attempts to bridge the two Armenian-language worlds with the power of words. The “BRIDGE for CSOs” project with its “goodwill ambassador” component again came to help the organization to progress its mission. The idea is as follows: people in Diaspora having a good reputation and are well-known, join the Armenian NGOs and introduce their activity in Diaspora. The practice of “goodwill ambassador” is an effective and applicable international format. Among the “goodwill ambassadors” within “BRIDGE for CSOs” project are Yervant Zorian (USA), Narine Abgaryan (RF), Ara Khachadourian (France) and others. 

Literary critic Arqmenik Nikoghosyan, who is known for his active and effective activity in the Armenian literary life, became “goodwill ambassador” for “Technolinguistics”. “In case of “Technolinguistics” the bridge operated in the opposite direction: Mardig and the guys are from Diaspora, and they need to be perceived in Armenia, to be recognizable, and it was decided that literary critic Arqmenik Nikoghosyan will be the best support to the guys. He can best of all introduce to VLUME the events that take place in Armenian literary life”, says Hasmik Hayrapetyan. Arqmenik Nikoghosyan’s functions as a unique “ambassador” are to invest his professional capacities, fame, and connections for the progress and implementation of the objectives of the organization. “I am going to be not only the face of the digital library but in general the goodwill ambassador in the field which I represent and love very much. I will participate in meetings and discussions to introduce VLUME on various platforms. Moreover, we are not going to be limited with Yerevan only ”, says Arqmenik.

“The work that the guys do is so noble, they are so unselfishly and enthusiastically dedicated to the preservation of the Armenian identity that it is impossible not to be ‘infected’ and not to want to support them in all possible ways”, states Hasmik Hayrapetyan. Mardig Tcholakian, in his turn, adds, “Collaboration with “BRIDGE for CSOs” project taught us a lot; it helped us to set up and find our place in Armenia, to further add into our connections and skills.”

VLUME is a single hub for exchanging quality literature by bringing together Armenian readers (of both branches: eastern and western) with authors and publishers and offer each of these parties’ tools for a better experience, further innovation, and scale. And as the brand name prompts, the project has been established “to disseminate volumes of positive values”. The authors of this project in the future see the online platform as a quality entertainment site, where the Armenian readers from various places in the world can meet and share their literary preferences and receive recommendations, thus laying new bridges between Armenia and Diaspora, as well as strengthening the existing ones.

You can visit VLUME digital library and get registered via the following links:

Site: http://www.vlume.com/
iTunes: http://vlume.com/download/ios
Android: http://vlume.com/download/android
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vlumeapp