The U.S. Library of Congress is the world's largest library with more than 130 million items. Among its works is the largest collection of Persian language materials outside Iran. Recently, VOA's Ana Ward was on hand as the library, in partnership with the Washington Friends of the International Society for Iranian Studies, opened its doors for an event dedicated to the Persian language treasures in its archives. Jim Bertel narrates.
The Persian language collection at the Library of Congress includes over 50,000 volumes in Persian including manuscripts, maps, music and Persian movies. The collection covers not only the country of Iran, but also the surrounding area where the language is spoken.
Mona Khademi is the president of the Washington chapter of the International Society for Iranian Studies and says she was surprised at the broad interest in Iranian culture. "After meeting with members of the Library of Congress in Washington I thought we could use this opportunity to show the public the Persian historical books and other collections. There are a lot of Iranians here and also people from other countries interested in Persian culture and this is a great opportunity for them to learn more."
The exhibition featured a tour of the reading rooms, Persian books and a presentation of the online collection available on the Library of Congress website. The Persian digital collection includes rare photographs, maps, manuscripts and lithographic books.
Babak is an Iranian-American from the Washington area. He is impressed by how much information about Iranian culture is available at the Library of Congress. He says, "There are a lot of books and resources on Persian culture here. The benefit of this library is that we actually have access to all the documents from home through the Internet and therefore we can save time."
The Library of Congress is constantly adding to its Persian language collection. Some of the materials come from Iran, some from Afghanistan and others from the Iranian-American community in the United States.