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Lessons for Assistance to Iraqi Libraries Derived from Similar Efforts to Assist Bosnian Libraries after the 1992-1996 War1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2016

Jeffrey B. Spurr*
Affiliation:
Harvard University

Extract

The building of a library is a fundamental gesture of hope, if not in the perfectibility of humankind, at least in its mission to affirm and make accessible the legacy of scholars, researchers and creative minds of the past and present and the capacity of that legacy to guide and inspire the future, and thus to advance the prospects of all individuals and society as a whole. No serious education – particularly higher education – is possible without adequate libraries. Those who do not have such access for whatever reason are condemned to the most limited purchase on the possibilities the world has to offer. This essay addresses the fate of Bosnian libraries, efforts to ameliorate their condition, successes and failures in that regard, and reflections upon the state of similar institutions in Iraq and current efforts to address their plight, following a few thoughts concerning libraries and politics.

Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Middle East Studies Association of North America 2004

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References

2 But initially inspired by the visit of Dr. Enes Kujundzic, Director of the National and University Library, to Boston in October, 1994, while the siege raged. He was my guest during his stay and Andras Riedlmayer and I arranged his meetings and events at Harvard, MIT, Simmons School for Library and Information Science and the Boston Public Library. For Bosnia Library Project-related web pages, see: http://www.applicom.com/twibih/librarv2002.html. and http://www.applicom.com/twibih/appeal.html.

Also, important websites related to libraries and archives in Bosnia: Bosnian Manuscript Ingathering Project http://www.openbook.ba/bmss/: Open Book (Sarajevo), previously CUPRIJA (The Bridge) http://www.openbook.ba/index.html.

3 Watenpaugh, Keith, et al, “Opening the Doors: Intellectual Life and Academic Conditions in Post-War Baghdad: A Report of the Iraqi Observatory, July 15,2003,” http://www.lemovne.edu/global_studies/opening_the_doors.pdf:Google ScholarArnoult, Jean-Marie, “Assessment of Iraqi Cultural Heritage: Libraries & Archives, June 27-July 6,2003” (By UNESCO contract), http://www.ifla.org/VI/4/admin/iraq2207.pdf:Google Scholar Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of State Mission to Baghdad, Report on the National Library and the House of Manuscripts, October 27-November 3, 2003, http://www.loc.gov/rr/amed/iraqreport/iraqreport.html: Christian Filstrup, E., The USAID-Iraq HEAD-Stony Brook University Program in Archaeology and Environmental Health. Libraries Assessment: Baghdad Visit 17–22 December, 2003, https://listhost.uchicago.edu/pipermail/iraqcrisis/2004-Januarv/000498.html.Google Scholar

4 In part sponsored by the Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi Libraries and maintained by Charles Jones, as part of the Lost Treasures from Iraq website http://www-oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IRAQ/iraq.html.

5 While our bibliography particularly reflects the issues facing Iraq during its process of democratization, the scope is wide. Its sub-sections suggest this range:

  • a.

    a. Classic works on democracy, from the time of the Greeks to World War II. Some of these titles may already be held in Iraqi libraries.

  • b.

    b. Recent “classics” on democracy: The Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine, has created a list of the 50 most important books on democracy since World War II. We have kept these books separate from the more specific topical books since they form a basic group of books that would support introductory work on contemporary understandings of democracy

  • c.

    c. The process of democratization: works that focus on the basic requisites for successful democracy and on the process of creating democratic regimes.

  • d.

    d. Democracy and democratization in the Middle East.

  • e.

    e. Elections and political parties: materials on alternative electoral laws and party systems, and their consequences.

  • f.

    f. Constitutional design: analyses of different constitutional forms and political systems, for example presidential versus parliamentary systems, or alternative judicial structures.

  • g.

    g. Globalization and its consequences for democracy.

  • h.

    h. Petroleum and democracy: materials that analyze the interplay between oil-based economies and democratic rule.

  • i.

    i. Multi-ethnic, multi-religious countries: books concerning the tensions engendered by heterogeneity and the ways to address them.

  • j.

    j. Civil society: materials on the role of civil society in the formation and maintenance of democracy.

  • k.

    k. Truth and reconciliation processes: chronicles and analyses of these processes in countries like South Africa.

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