Satenik Avakian

AGBU Papazian Library Director Satenik Avakian Plans to Retire

3 min read
Satenik Avakian, 1993

Satenik Avakian, 1993

AGBU Papazian Library Director Satenik (Bella) Avakian will be stepping down from her position by September 2020 after 27 years of dedicated service to the American University of Armenia (AUA). Avakian’s journey at AUA started in 1992 when the University was only one year old. After completing her studies in library science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S., she started managing the Library which then had about 3,000 donated books and textbooks. She recruited staff, worked on the development of the library and initiated many projects, which led to growing the Library to what it is today. 

Throughout the years we have expanded the library space with the help of USAID/ASHA grants adding new state-of-the-art facilities and collaborative study spaces. We have also improved the accessibility – now we have on- and off-campus access to all kinds of resources.

The Library is continually working to improve student information literacy skills and increase access to the world’s most scholarly databases. It strives to explore and implement e-textbooks at AUA that would be affordable to students and promote Open Access publishing on the national level.

Avakian takes pride in the achievements of the AGBU Papazian Library. She highlights the most notable collaborations initiated in the past years, including Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) and the American International Consortium of Academic Libraries (AMICAL). As a member of several committees relevant to professional development, resource sharing and digital humanities, the Library organizes annual meetings, trainings, webinars and other events with peer members, such as the American University in Cairo, the American University of Beirut, the American University in Bulgaria and several others.

Satenik Avakian with Vartan Gregorian, 2002

Satenik Avakian with Vartan Gregorian, 2002

With a radiant smile, Avakian has been welcoming high-level delegations, AUA benefactors, visitors from abroad, and library patrons to the AGBU Papazian Library and offering guided tours of the facilities. Among the most memorable acquaintances she has made at AUA, Avakian mentions Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Richard Hovannisian, an Armenian-American historian and professor emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Both of them have donated books from their personal collections to the AGBU Papazian Library. Their main incentive was that our library is open to the public at large.”

It has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I am thankful for the wonderful staff who have surrounded me throughout the years at AUA.

The staff at the AGBU Papazian Library is teamed up under Avakian’s strong leadership. She is much loved and esteemed by her colleagues and library patrons. She says that her secret to successful management is being friendly with everyone, being supportive and willing to listen to them. Avakian emphasizes the importance of working with professional staff who never cease to learn and are always enthusiastic about learning new skills. She believes that the Library cannot function properly without the well-qualified staff and support of the faculty.

Satenik Avakian and Hasmik Galstyan

Satenik Avakian and Hasmik Galstyan

Regarding the future growth of the AGBU Papazian Library, Avakian hopes that the Library’s world-class research collection will be further enriched and more collaborative study spaces will be added. She envisions having more access to electronic resources, becoming the richest library in Armenia to provide services not only to undergraduate and graduate students, but also doctoral students. She notes: “We are already collaborating with a number of top university libraries. We have Interlibrary Loan program established with the California State University, Northridge and Florida Atlantic University, and many other academic libraries through OCLC, a global library cooperative service. But we are eager to expand collaborative partnerships with other institutions throughout the world. Collaboration with the California Digital Library should be our top priority in the future.”

Avakian has always been committed to AUA, and even after retirement, she is prepared to contribute to ongoing and new library projects, helping the University to achieve more visibility, as well as to coordinate outreach programs and improve regional community libraries, such as in Dilijan and Kapan.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.