Glendale Library offers Armenian, Spanish story time

Glendale Library System children's librarian Kristine Markosyan, left, read Armenian books to children at the Adams Library on Saturday, July 6, 2013. The reading time is targeted to children 18 months to three years old but older children can attend as well. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / July 6, 2013)

At the Library Connection in Glendale's Adams Square Saturday, librarian Kristine Markosyan read children's stories to about 10 wide-eyed toddlers in a scene that is a common sight at public libraries — except this story-time was in Armenian, and included versions of traditional Armenian fairy tales.

The session was just one instance of the Glendale Library's Stories in Other Languages program, which provides the same story-time programming for young children that is offered throughout the system, but in Armenian or Spanish.

The programs are offered once a month at the Library Connection and the Central, Grandview and Pacific Park libraries.

Markosyan said after the program's conclusion that the program was part of the library's efforts to encourage all members of the Glendale community to take advantage of the library's services.

"I've been seeing more Armenian families in the library, at the other story-time programs, she said.

Markosyan said the Spanish language story-time program has seen similar levels of turnout as the Armenian one.

According to 2010 Census data, 55% of Glendale residents were born in a foreign country, and Markosyan said that new arrivals might not realize that the library wants to offer programs for them as well.

"We do have people asking if we offer programs in Armenian, and people are surprised that we do," she said. "If there's more demand, we'll do more."

For first-time attending parent Harout Shamamian, who was born in Yerevan but grew up in America, the program was a chance to help his children grow up bilingual.

Shamamian said that mostly Armenian is spoken in his household, because his children, Patrick, 3, and Lillian, 6, are learning English at school, but he wants to ensure they are connected to their heritage.

Although the program has been in effect since 2008, Markosyan said that recently the library started offering it to younger toddlers to capture a new generation of the Armenian community.

"I think those kids grew up," she said. "I'm noticing, too, the new generation are trying to reconnect with their culture."

Sam Darbinian, who was at the library Saturday with his 2-year-old twins and their 5-year-old brother, said the program was important because it instilled a love for reading in a generation that is bombarded with digital temptations.

"You want to get them interested in reading," he said. "It's easy to find entertainment, but not something educational."

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