Maria, Hasmig, Gagik and Armenag visited the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC) library in Pewsey, Wiltshire. The library is one component of ISIC that is a Christian organisation and is well resourced in very attractive premises.
It holds over 75,000 titles, and over 1000 of them are in their Armenian collection. The librarian, Mark, provided us a description of the Armenian collection – it has been specifically built to preserve the memory of the Armenian Genocide. They also hold titles about relating topics such as Ottoman Empire, Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, Armenian Orthodox Church, Artsakh, etc. The library nevertheless aims to be a genuine comprehensive academic reference with the aim of building it up to support research studies at Masters and PhD levels.
It regularly purchases further books by being aware of new titles, actively searching what is on offer on the internet, and receiving donations. Its interest cover many countries, religions, ethnicities, traditions of which the Armenian collection is one that is currently being given a lot of attention.
As an example, the Armenian collection has now reached 1,200 and the target is 2,000. It comprises books in English, Armenian, German, Farsi etc. as well as periodicals and pamphlets.
We were all very impressed with the collection, particularly as it is managed professionally in a purpose built building with temperature and humidity level controls. It is not a public library but aims to serve those who undertake serious study and they feel could benefit the work that is being undertaken. Entry is by invitation and by appointment. Having said that, we were made welcome through the interest we showed.
So the question arises as to how this library can help with the UK Armenians & WW1 project. Maria has done work on this, and Armenag had a go at one shelf of books to assess prospects. Our initial word scans on titles did not yield much. So the bottom line is that the library requires thorough search (or slog) to identify material that will be useful to the project. This will be by days of attendance at the library itself.
In summary, this is a jewel of a library that may yield good information through dedicated hours.
(photo credit: Pewsey library)