Vartan Gregorian, R. I. P.

Vartan Gregorian was a scholar, a leader, and a friend to all humanity. From the New Yorker magazine's 1986 portrait of him, by Philip Hamburger, his description of the institution he then led:

A library is a sacred place. My role is educator and teacher. For four thousand years, humanity has gone through dreadful horrors, dreadful turmoils, varied glories. How do we distill the past? How do we retain the memories? Libraries. The New York Public Library is one of the greatest in the entire world. Its research libraries contain some twenty-nine million items, and there are eighty-eight miles of stacks right here in this building. Millions of memories. We are a treasured repository of civilization. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I realize what we mean to the city and to the world. Libraries keep the records on behalf of all humanity. We contain the unique and the absurd, the wise and fragments of stupidity. We mirror the world, in all its folly and wisdom. We serve the masses and the individual. A library must never be indifferent to the individual, must always protect him. Think of a lone person in one of our reading rooms, who has just read a book, a single book that has perhaps not been read in twenty years by another living soul, and from that reading comes an invention of incalculable importance to the human race. It makes a man tremble. Endless sources of knowledge are here. We have books in three thousand languages and dialects. I can take you through here from Balanchine to Tibet. There are esoterica on synthetic fuels, neglected maps of the Falklands which were suddenly in demand at the time of the Falklands War. And Warsaw telephone directories from the years of the Holocaust, often invaluable as the only source of documentation of who lived where, in order to substantiate claims for retribution. There will never be an end to this library. Never!

Gregorian died last week. He brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to all he did. From the same New Yorker profile:

      Yes, and...
Vartan Gregorian
      1934-2021

(cf [1], [2], Boston Public Library (2002-06-20), Vartan Gregorian (2010-02-05), Philanthropy and Charity (2010-03-28), Libraries on the Road to Home (2010-04-08), Vartan Gregorian and Andrew Carnegie (2010-05-05), Librarians (2020-02-03), ...) - ^z - 2021-04-22