International

Attack in Tunisia

The BBC covers the attacks at the Bardo Museum in Tunis where at least eight people including tourists have been killed.

ISIS Commits Libricide in Iraq

Artnet.com reports on the burning of 8000 rare texts and manuscripts by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Breathe a Small Sigh of Relief for the Contents of Middle Eastern Libraries

From The New York Times Arts Blog:

LONDON — At a moment when libraries and archives in the Middle East face threats of damage and destruction from war and ideology, the British Library has announced that it has now made four million images from its Endangered Archives program available online.

The initiative, established in 2004 and supported by the Arcadia Fund, has so far financed 246 projects in 78 countries, attempting to preserve manuscripts, records, newspapers, photographs, sound archives and even rock inscriptions that are at risk of loss or deterioration.

“What’s at stake is what beliefs and biases will shape the way history is told,” Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times in a 2012 article about the Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali, and the Endangered Archives program’s attempt to preserve and digitize the thousands of Arabic manuscripts housed in the mosque and in the city.

Borrow a BIKE @ your Library (you have to live in Yorkshire UK)

From CyclingWeekly: The first Yorkshire Bank Bike Library was established in December with the aim of giving everyone in the county access to a bike. Now, community groups, charities and not-for-profit businesses are being invited to make applications for funding to set up their own libraries. The public are asked to donate old or unwanted bikes at a number of deposit stations in the county.                                                                                      

 More info here.  Anyone have experience with bike libraries in the US or Canada? Would you want your county/municipality to have a bike library?

Edinburgh University has Given a Library Card to a Cat

Jordan has turned his back on his Catholic friar owners and adopted Edinburgh University library as his main residence. The feline has his own Facebook page set up by students with over 6,800 “likes”. [Ed. note: the Facebook page is a hoot; pictures of Library Cat and a stream-of-consciousness storyline by an anonymous commenter].

And now the black and white pet has been made “official” by getting a card for the library, complete with a photo and 2017 expiry date. The eight-year-old came to the Catholic chaplaincy as a kitten but never took to life as a mouse catcher with men of the cloth.

Despite being named after a 12th Century saint, Jordan preferred the company of trendy young students - and an easy life in the well-heated library. Every day, Jordan leaves the friary and crosses Edinburgh’s leafy George Square in the old town, to the university’s main library.

There, he enjoys being petted by students from across the globe, and even has a favourite turquoise chair near the door. More from Edinburgh News. And here's Jordan's interview on Scottish TV.

Doris Lessing's Books to Go to Zimbabwe Libraries

From ABC News:

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing, who died last year, spent her early years in Zimbabwe. She is still giving back to the country whose former white rulers banished her for speaking against racial discrimination.

The bulk of Lessing's book collection was handed over to the Harare City Library (at the corner of Rotten Row and Pennyfeather), which will catalogue the more than 3,000 books. The donation complements the author's role in opening libraries in Zimbabwe, to make books available to rural people.

"For us she continues to live," said 42-year-old Kempson Mudenda, who worked with Lessing when she established the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust.

"The libraries she helped set up are giving life to village children who would otherwise be doomed," said Mudenda, who said he used to trudge bush paths daily to reach remote villages with books.

Lessing's trust started libraries in thatched mud huts and under trees after the author was allowed to return to Zimbabwe following independence in 1980.

Report from Monrovia - Letter from Mike Weah, the Liberian Librarian

Further to our previous story about Monrovia's only library, Huffington Post reporter B. D. Colen quotes a letter he received from Mike Weah:

    Today is a sunny Sunday in Monrovia. About five major hospitals are closed and are gradually planning to reopen. Catholic hospital, one of the largest, was massively hit by the Ebola virus. A number of her staff including doctors were affected. The hospital chief administrator was the first to die. It is closed but there are still Ebola patients(nurses) on the wards and bodies in the morgue. The "rapid response unit" has been unable to transfer the patients because of lack of space at the only two over crowded official isolated centers in the whole country. Also, they claimed that they don't have the vehicle to pick up the bodies from the morgue.

Many communities are experiencing this problem. There was rioting on Saturday in one of the nearby communities because the Ebola bodies had not been picked up for days. The police was called in. Law and order is becoming a challenged even though a State of Emergency has been declared in Liberia. Travel around the country has been drastically restricted and the army and police are out to enforce. We live in a part of Monrovia called Old Road, just about a 7-10 minute walk from the Catholic Hospital. There is a big open air market here on the Old Road where we do our shopping for local food stuff. Because of lack of food and other needed items, an Ebola patient may decide to leave the hospital and come to the market to purchase something. Then All hell would break up in this area.

Mike, the Liberian Librarian. Trying to Help His People While Dealing With Civil Wars, Illiteracy and Now Ebola

Via Huff Post:

In his 60 years Michael Weah, like most Liberians, has had to contend with realities most of us in the United States can not even comprehend. Thirty-four years ago, when he was 26, came the bloody military coup staged by Samuel Doe, that upended what had been the social and political order in Liberia since its colonization by American freemen and former slaves in 1820. Then in 1989 Charles Taylor overthrew Doe, and Liberia slid into a period of on-again-off-again civil wars.

During the period of the civil wars, when life in Monrovia was restricted by a curfew that began in the late afternoon, Michael Weah established a small lending library, supplying anyone who asked with reading material - books, magazines, newspapers, donated from overseas. All he asked was that when a person was through with the reading material they pass it on to someone else who would use it to sustain them through the interminable periods of daily isolation.

During the decade-plus of civil wars, the initial operation grew into the We-Care Library, the only real library in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. Every day the library is literally jammed with school children of all ages, who come to study, do their home work, and expand their horizons.

The library recently had to close due to the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa. As Mike wrote the other day to friends in the U.S. and Canada, "family wise, I have lost three persons: my doctor, the man who clears our books from the port, and a young nephew. Everybody fled from the house when the young boy started to show the symptoms. He died alone and his body is still lying on the porch where he passed. The health workers were called about six hours ago. They may come or may not."

Singapore Library Pulls Books About Gay Couples

Where is it illegal to chew gum and/or be in a gay relationship? Singapore of course.

Story from NPR's The Two-Way Blog , interpret the name of the blog as you see fit.

The two books are And Tango Makes Three, inspired by two real male penguins who hatched an egg together, and The White Swan Express, about four couples — one of which is a lesbian couple — who travel to China to adopt baby girls. The books will be pulped, according to Time Magazine.

Limits to Books in British Prisons Draws Creative Ire

From The New York Times:

Mr. Chris Mr. Grayling is Britain’s secretary of state for justice, and last November, his department tightened the rules on privileges granted to inmates. One of the changes was to restrict the flow of books into prisons, with a ban on packages of books brought or sent by friends and relatives. Mr. MacShane’s case suggests that some guards have interpreted the policy as a broader ban, though the Ministry of Justice says books should be confiscated only on admission for logistical reasons or if the books are considered inappropriate.

Either way, the effect is to move toward a system under which prisoners must borrow books from prison libraries or earn the right to buy them through good behavior. The debate over access to literature in prison has put Mr. Grayling at the center of an acrimonious dispute over crime and punishment, rehabilitation and whether receiving books is a right or a privilege for a prisoner.

It has also made him some very creative enemies. Novelists, including Kathy Lette and Margaret Drabble, are threatening to name some of their most villainous and unfortunate fictional characters after Mr. Grayling. Ms. Lette said her coming novel, “Courting Trouble,” will feature a corrupt lawyer named Chris Grayling who ends up in a prison where he is deprived of reading matter and goes insane.

“For Britain to be punishing people by starving them of literature is cruel and unusual punishment,” Ms. Lette said as she took part in a protest last month outside the prime minister’s office. “We are going to impale him on the end of our pens. Poetic justice is true justice.”

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