Kosovo\'s Libraries Cleansed Of Albanian Books


Radio Free Europe has this sad article about the fate of Albanian language books in Kosovo\'s libraries.
\"Kosovo\'s libraries lost almost half their books over the last decade to ethnic cleansing. RFE/RL correspondent Jolyon Naegele reports that a new study says many of the libraries were purged of Albanian-language books even before hostilities erupted in 1998.\"\"The International Federation of Library Associations estimates that at least $6.7 million will be needed to rescue Kosovo\'s libraries, damaged by a decade of neglect and a year and a half of fighting. It says most of the books that survived are either outdated or irrelevant to locals because of their language or subject matter.\"

\"The association\'s report, just made public, says that Serbian authorities followed a systematic policy of destroying Albanian-language literature.\"

\"The authors, two Scandinavian library experts, based their report on a survey they conducted earlier this year in libraries throughout Kosovo. The authors do not attempt to define who destroyed what when, but rather they focus on the libraries\' current needs. UNESCO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Council of Europe supported the survey financially and logistically, along with four Scandinavian librarians\' associations.\"

\"One of the co-authors is Carsten Frederiksen, deputy director of the Copenhagen-based library federation. He says Albanian librarians had been fired long before the war.

\"What has happened is actually that all ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were removed from the libraries or fired or sacked about 10 years ago, and that no new books in the Albanian language have been acquired since 1991. And in this sense you might speak of ethnic cleansing in the libraries.\" The report says some 100,000 books in Albanian belonging to the National and University Library were destroyed between 1991 and 1995, in what the authors of the survey describe as a \"process of ethnic cleansing.\" They say this process also occurred in almost all public libraries in Kosovo during the 1990s. The torching of libraries in Kosovar Albanian communities during the fighting in 1998 and 1999 was just the culmination of a long policy.\"

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