The Digital Library of Bucharest (formerly “DacoRomanica”), operated by the Metropolitan Library, started a few years ago the buildup of a collection of the cultural heritage of the Armenian minority on the territory of Romania. As was stated by Florin Rotaru, the founder and former director of DacoRomanica and initiator of the portal of collections of ethnical minority heritage (“Bucharests Multiculturalism“), the project was triggered by a large, but finally unperilous fire in 2008 in the building which hosted the library and archive of the Armenian Church in Bucharest. In order to preserve copies of these mostly unique and historically important stocks, their digitization and thus the documentation of the long and rich history of the Armenians on the territory of today’s Romania became one of the main priorities of DacoRomanica. Beside Armenian-language books – mostly religious literature – there are also Romanian and French publications available. In total there are presently 670 books available.
As laudable as the project and the high visual quality of the scans actually are, a major fault is the fact that the metadata is available only in Romanian. Foreign users will therefore encounter difficulties in their search for certain materials. Another problem is – beside the aged and not overly user-friendly DigiTool software – the inefficient search in the catalogue, caused by deficient metadata sets; using Google will provide much better results. The reception and impact of the collection is therefore limited to specialists who do not mind these difficulties. Because of this and due to the solely historical content, the collection is in need of a considerable enlargement in order to contribute to the preservation of the Armenian language, culture and identity in Romania where today most Armenians are largely assimilated.
A comparable Jewish collection within the minority portal was planned, but so far was not realized due to the dismissal of the former director. A German collection however was started with the digitization of the Bukarest Tagblatt, the most important German-language newspaper from Wallachia. Overall one can hope that more materials in the collections which are documenting Bucharests very diverse cultural past are to follow very soon.