Ancient Islamic Texts Crumble in Africa

Anonymous Patron points us to this story from the

"Scholars say irreplaceable Islamic texts representing a historic era of Muslim culture, including West Africa's unique part in it, are decaying to oblivion in sweltering homes.

Tens of thousands have been rescued and put in safe storage here and abroad, but many more are scattered around Timbuktu - private heirlooms handed down from parents to children over the centuries.

The Timbuktu texts "are probably among the most important unused scholarly materials in the world," said Chris Murphy of the U.S. Library of Congress, who was co-curator of an exhibition of 23 of the manuscripts in Washington last year."

Bill Before Canadian Parliament Further Restricts Speech

ChuckB writes "John Leo writes in U.S. News & World Report on Bill C-250, apparently about to become

'Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country,' Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add 'sexual orientation' to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the 'Bible as Hate Literature' bill, or simply 'the chill bill.' It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups.

Bovoroy notes in a CCLA position paper that 'legal curbs on hate often backfire' because legally useful definitions of hate speech are exceedingly difficult to fashion."

Libraries, publishers donate to rebuild Talmud Torah library

robg writes "A supposedly politically-motivated arson destroyed the Talmud Torah day school library in Montreal last Monday. But donations have been pouring in ever since from libraries and publishers across Canada to help rebuild it, according to the letter from the editor in Saturday's Globe and Mail. A teacher-librarian from British Columbia summed up the sentiment felt across the country: 'The library is the heart of the school... Without a well-stocked library, kids are shortchanged. We didn't want to see that happen to those kids.'

It's just unfortunate those kids still have to live with the memory of being targeted for actions they and their school have nothing to do with...."

Library in Baghdad Juvenile Prison

A U.S. army captain, who in civilian life is a lawyer in Indianapolis, helped start a library in Baghdad's only juvenile prison. Captain David Seiter asked friends back home to donate Arabic-language materials, and yesterday the library officially opened in Karkh Juvenile Detention Facility. The inmates here, who are 13-18 years old, are not insurgents against the U.S. forces; they are mainly convicted of armed robbery, though some are convicted of rape and murder. Some more detail is in this Associated Press story.

Library restored in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq

Bob Cox shares with us a story about a Shiite library in Ad Diwaniyah that has been restored by the locals and Oregon-based relief agency Mercy Corps.

"Today, the first anniversary of the invasion, the library is part of the new Iraq, a mix of Arab and Western values. Soon, women will study there for the first time. Patrons now come and go as they please, and before too long they will be Googling across the Internet that Saddam once forbade."

Putin helps Baghdad University Library

Russian president Vladimir Putin is helping Baghdad University restore its Russian collections, which were destroyed when the U.S. attacked Iraq. There is a really brief article from Russian Information Agency Novosti.

Resources for Librarians serving Immigration and Multicultural Communities

An anonymous patron wants to let us know that the Canadian Library Association has created a list of Immigration and Multicultural Resources. These resources apply to Canada only.

Former Soviet Georgia's Library Teetering on the Brink

Levan Berdzenishvili, the director of the National Library of Georgia works wrapped in a heavy sweater and tries to stay warm with a cup of instant coffee. His library in Tbilisi has no heat and no phones.

Like the country of Georgia, the library has suffered as a result of seventy years of neglect under Communist rule. Despite the fact that he hasn't received a salary in over two months, Berdzenishvili continues to pay the electric bill so that patrons can continue to read. "A library can operate without heat or phones, but no one can read in the dark". Here's the story from the Baltimore Sun

Help for Devastated Iraqi Libraries
reports on an NEH grant for $100,000 received by teams of librarians from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and Harvard University to help recruit and train Iraqis as librarians over the next two years.

As their country recovers from the devastations of two wars, Iraqi librarians will need to learn the basics of new technologies and methods of research developed over the past two decades. In addition to taking library and archival courses, the Iraqis will work with Simmons and Harvard library specialists on special projects that the Iraqis identify as most needed to rebuild their contemporary and historic collections and to modernize their library systems.

Simmons conducted similar programs in the past in war-torn countries such as Vietnam and Bosnia with phenomenal success.

Friends of the UNTL Library

The Friends of the UNTL Library are a group, based in Canberra Australia, that raise money and resources for the rebuilding of The National University of East Timor Library. The library was destroyed (as was most other infrastructure) during the Independence Referendum in 1999. The rebuilding of the library began in 2000 and has been conducted in stages. Although the project has existed since 2000, the web site was only launched in November 2003 and includes information about the status of the project, the resources needed and experiences of librarians who have travelled to Dili to participate in the rebuilding efforts.

The project is currently focused on collecting office equipment and textbooks (they are still missing vital resources and do not yet have internet access) and is holding a benefit for the Library on the 11th of March.


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