Mrs. Pisani started from scratch, by first setting up an automated database with Book Systems, a software company geared to school and church libraries, which she had used in a previous job. Next, she and her volunteers have taken each book, researching online for existing records and call numbers using the Library of Congress classiﬁcation system. “It’s a painstaking process, like solving a puzzle for each book,” comments Aida. If she can ﬁnd a record for a book online, either from the Library of Congress or other academic library catalogs, she can simply add it to the collection. However, if no record exists, as in some old Armenian books, she must create the information, a more time-consuming process by doing original cataloging, before she can add it to the new database.
Her dedicated team of volunteers include Beatrice Postian, Vera Watts, Anne Shaterian and Aida’s husband Michael Pisani, who have helped aﬃx barcode labels and call number labels to each book before shelving. Computer savvy volunteers Ashely Murtha and Eve Wolfsohn have searched online for records of books in English, while Gayane Manukyan and Lilit Shakhkyan (wife of Seminarian Dn. Ivan) have been instrumental in searching for Armenian language book records. If an ISBN number exists, Aida can catalog 50 books a day, otherwise 30 or less may be added to the collection if no records exist. Dr. Roberta Ervine, St. Nersess Professor of Armenian Studies, is helping to prioritize the books.
When asked to describe the books in the St. Nersess library, Aida comments, “there are religious and theological books, and books on philosophy, music, and history. Some books date back to the 1800s, and some are very valuable and are the only copy in the world. They don’t exist anywhere else.” Thanks to Aida and her team, St. Nersess seminarians are now able to “check out” books to use as part of their studies. Also, anyone can search the database by keyword, author, title, subject or series to ﬁnd what St. Nersess has to oﬀer in its library. To access the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) for the Abp. Tiran Nersoyan Library, go to http://stnersess.booksys.net/opac/stnas/index.html#menuHome.
Fr. Mardiros is grateful to Aida Pisani and her volunteer assistants for their continuous dedication to the St. Nersess library, as well as to the Women's Guild of St. Gregory Armenian Church for a grant that enabled the purchase of necessary materials for the cataloging of the books.