A digital library to capture and preserve 300 years of Armenian cultural history has already created more than 80,000 digital objects, thanks to support from the NREN ASNET-AM and the EUfunded EaPConnect project. In Ukraine and Belarus similar efforts are under way.
Key to this work is a close relationship with the Polish NREN, PSNC, which has been a partner in the EaPConnect project since its early days. Specialists at PSNC created dLibra software to support e-publication from start to finish. dLibra is now widely used in Poland by academic institutions, public libraries, museums and archives to create digital libraries. In 2019, the PSNC experts provided training to project partners and winners of the 2017 EaPConnect Enlighten Your Research (EYR) programme whose projects aimed to create digital libraries for research (Armenia) and cultural heritage (Ukraine).
EaPConnect has provided high-tech digitising equipment such as a new specialist scanner for use in Ukraine by URAN Association. URAN has created a centre for the digitisation of cultural heritage based on the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute library (dlibra.uran.ua). Their digitised materials are being stored in a virtual digital library provided by PSNC. In this way, the historical and academic archives of Ukraine are online and becoming available to people even in the furthest corners of the country.
In Belarus, the NREN BASNET is now finishing work on localisation of its digital library (dlibra.basnet.by), providing a hosting service for the dLibra library developed in PSNC. Its work to fill the library has started with the digitisation of a few items from the 15th Century. The goal is to create around 30,000 digital objects from rare books of cultural significance.
In Armenia, work on a pan-Armenian digital library (arar.sci.am) is more advanced. The 80,000 digital objects created so far include books, newspapers, articles etc. On a technical level, this means that ASNET-AM is providing a virtual server with disc space of 256GB, to be enlarged with another 512GB. ASNET-AM staff are responsible for maintaining arar.sci.am, providing user registration, system back-ups, website maintenance, importation of materials and liaison with PSNC experts, as well as consultation to the library
This Armenian digitisation effort has been achieved in around just one year. ASNET-AM plans to ultimately create an open access repository of Armenian research outputs, and a database about the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide that will include audio and video testimonies. With effort from the 2017 EYR winning project, there will also be digitised collections from the country’s regional museums as well as material from all the major Armenian museums and libraries.
Digital libraries and the number of objects they contain are certainly set to grow!