Libraries on the Road to Home

Vartan Gregorian's The Road to Home is a charmingly written autobiography by an amazing Armenian-American. Gregorian, born in 1935 in Tabriz Iran, grew up in tough circumstances but managed to become "a person of learning and consequence" thanks to hard work, a brilliant mind, and the help of family, friends, and strangers. Libraries were important throughout his life. In Chapter Two ("Childhood") he observes:

From age eleven on, I was a part-time page at the library, which proved to be a great oasis of privacy, peace, and occasional solitude. I loved to read and I read everything. I understood some of what I read, was bewildered by much, but over time the library introduced me to Armenia's history and literature, and Russian, English, German, and Polish novels in translation. The library opened a new world. At age fourteen, with two friends, I edited a newspaper named Ararat for the library's bulletin board. I wrote an editorial titled "Our Voice" and the first obituary about the late, beloved prelate of our Church, Archbishop Nerses Melik-Tanguian. At the same time, I started to write articles for the respected Armenian daily Alik in Tehran, beginning with obituaries and reporting on cultural events in Tabriz. I wrote under a pseudonym in order to be taken seriously by the readers. Neither the library nor the newspaper paid, but I benefited immensely from both. I was poor, but I was not alone.

In 1956, after attending school in Beirut Lebanon, Gregorian came to the United States to go to college. In Chapter Six ("Stanford University: A New World") he notes:

My courses were great. But I found myself in the position of a thirsty person who wants to drink water from a fountain and is given a hydrant. This was the case with my courses as well as with the Stanford library. The library was a mecca for me. I spent long days there in awe of the collection of books, like a little kid jumping from one toy to another. An interesting item led me to another and on and on. Even at the end of the day, I still felt intoxicated. At long last I had a personal library, open, accessible, and always there.

(cf. Boston Public Library (2002-06-20), Philanthropy and Charity (2010-03-28), ...) - ^z - 2010-04-08