Blog Posting

Don’t Let Those Who Burn Libraries Win: from Mosul to Mali, empowering communities

by Naomi House, MLIS
zaydi readingPledge T160K

I worked for over a decade in libraries so the news this week that IS (aka ISIS) militants had burned and destroyed 8,000 public library books was heartbreaking.  Beyond the loss of materials for the local population, in and of itself a devastating loss, was the loss of rare and irreplaceable manuscripts, including items from “the personal libraries of more than 100 notable families from Mosul over the last century.” This hits home for those of us working for T160K because it very much reminds us of our own origin story, the rescue of the Timbuktu manuscripts in Mali from their certain doom at the hands of militants. Librarians, archivists and others risked their lives smuggling out the family libraries and manuscripts to protect their precious cultural heritage.  They weren’t just rescuing paper and books but the treasure trove of scholarship, much of it African Islamic scholarship and works on peacemaking.


I have not read of any direct way we can help those in Mosul trying to protect their libraries and archives but I am paying attention to the news and looking for ways I can help, once those who live and work there are able to get word of what they need out to us.  In the meantime there is much that still needs to be done with the rescued Timbuktu manuscripts.  Once rescued T160K helped fundraise for proper archival storage and preservation materials. Now, it is time to share the incredible wisdom of the manuscripts with the world, through cataloging them.  Anyone in the global community can contribute to the new T160K crowdfunding efforts to make sure that the heritage that militants so longed to destroy is now available to everyone.  We cannot and will not let them win and everyone can participate in this victory over those who would have seen these book burn.  T160K is a global community and crowdfunding platform that is proud to be a part of preserving culture, heritage and history!

Today, make a one-time contribution to TIMBUKTU:


All photos copyright, and used with permission of Stephanie Diakite and Mamma Haidara Library

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