Tag Archives: Libraries

Significant archives are under threat in Cape Town’s fire. Here’s why they matter so much.

The African Studies collection consists of an astonishing collection of works related to Africa. These range from works published from as long ago as the 1500s through to the present day.

Significant Archives Are Under Threat in Cape Town's Fire. Here's Why They Matter So Much.

Firemen walk through the burnt out remains of Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, April 20, 2021 | REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A wildfire on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain has wreaked havoc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus. Among the sites of historical significance that have been damaged is the Jagger Library. The library houses rare and specialist collections, such as the important African Studies collections. The Conversation Africa’s Nontobeko Mtshali asked UCT academic Shannon Morreira to share her insights on what the loss means for the historical records held by the university. Continue reading

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Unesco releases its World Digital Library

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In order to make the isolation recommendations more bearable, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  (Unesco)  released the acquis and in multilingual format from its World Digital Library. Continue reading

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Cultural genocide: National Museum of Brazil destroyed

(September 3) – Very sad news. The 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil has been virtually destroyed by fire.

The museum in Rio de Janeiro had 20 million items, including Egyptian and Greco-Roman artifacts and a 12,000-year-old human fossil, the oldest found in the Western Hemisphere, known as “Luzia”. Connected to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the museum has expositions that include anthropology, archeology and paleontology, among others. Continue reading

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How the New York Times partook in the plunder of Iraq

Who gave permission to the New York Times to remove thousands of ISIL files from Iraq? | SINAN ANTOON*

A US soldier hauls documents during a raid conducted at a community centre in Baghdad in June 2003 [AP/Jim Krane]

A US soldier hauls documents during a raid conducted at a community centre in Baghdad in June 2003 | AP/Jim Krane

Many of the precious objects displayed in the global north’s major museums were plundered from their home in the global south. The dubious itinerary and the illegal and unethical practices that facilitated the plunder cannot be found in the laconic texts accompanying these exhibited objects. Continue reading

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Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation, United States, West Asia (Middle East)

Palestinian Museum’s digital archive project to preserve heritage

A three-year project by the Palestinian Museum will enable Palestinians to find and archive key historical documents | Ahmad Melhem, Al-Monitor

The Palestinian Museum’s digital archive will include photographic treasures Palestinians kept in their own homes to document them for future generations.

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Erasing history: Israeli state archives kept secret

Files in the Israel State Archives|Ofer Aderet

Ninety-five per cent of the Israeli state archives are concealed from public access. The suppression of history is a precondition for the all-round falsification of history of the enforced dispossession of the Palestinian people – “to make possible the Zionist lies about ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’ and to weaken Palestinian resistance as much as possible.” The state’s own chief archivist has condemned the widespread censorship of historical documents containing information that the public has a right to know about | Four articles 

Haaretz Editorial (January 18) – It was hard to believe that the manifesto posted this week on the website of the Israel State Archives was written by a state official subordinate to the Prime Minister’s Office. The text, by the outgoing chief archivist, Dr. Yaakov Lazovik, gives expression to all those values that the state has been trying to destroy in recent years – democracy, liberalism, humaneness and transparency. Continue reading

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Salvage or plunder? Israel’s ‘collection’ of private Palestinian libraries in West Jerusalem

It is widely known that when more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from Palestine before and after the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel in 1948 by force of arms, most Palestinian land and belongings were stolen, lost or destroyed. What is not well-known is that at least 70,000 books were looted from Palestinian homes, institutions and libraries in 1948. Rare manuscripts (estimated as numbering around 50,000 originating from 56 libraries in and around Jerusalem) are not included in the estimates and are totally unaccounted for. There are rare Palestinian manuscripts in the collection at the National Library, but they are not accessible by the general public. There are also rare Palestinian manuscripts at Hebrew University. Today, there is but one public Palestinian library in Jerusalem. Dr GISH AMIT* documents the plunder and the self-serving rationale of the Zionists that they were “saving” this rich treasury of the people of Palestine, as well as giving an engrossing insight into the many outstanding personalities who animated Palestinian political and cultural life. With the exception of the first photo, all graphics and captions have been added by myself. – TSPrivate Palestinian Libraries in West Jerusalem

Over the last decades, with the declassification of most of Israel’s official documents pertaining to the 1948 war and the emergence of a new critical Israeli historiography, much has been written about the dispossession and dispersal of Palestinians, [1] yet only limited attention has been paid to its catastrophic consequences on Palestinian culture. This is due to several factors: the nature of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict, which has made the Palestinian experience difficult to reconstruct in later years; [2] the erasure from memory of the urban spaces where that cultural and intellectual life thrived; [3] and the trauma of the Palestinian catastrophe itself, making it both impossible to escape and difficult to discuss. [4]  Continue reading


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People of the (stolen) book: Did Israel’s National Library engage in systematic theft?

The National Library in Jerusalem | Emil Salman

The National Library in Jerusalem | Emil Salman

New book casts a shadow on the way the National Library acquired some of its most treasured items, such as Torah scrolls from Yemen and books belonging to Palestinians. OFER ADERET in Haaretz

(Jan. 2) – Shalom Ozeri’s family came to Israel in 1949 from the Yemeni port city of Aden and was sent to the immigrants’ camp at Rosh Ha’ayin. A few months later, packages containing the family’s Torah scrolls and holy books began arriving. Valuable items included a tikhlal — a Yemenite Jewish prayer book dating back 500 years — and a manuscript of the Mishna in two parts. Continue reading


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Harper gutting of federal libraries ’like a book burning’

The Harper government, with its anti-social, anti-national and neo-liberal agenda, is shutting down a “world class” collection on freshwater science and protection, ANDREW NIKIFORUK* reports in The Tyee. We also list other federal library closures (9) and consolidations (27). Continue reading

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Stolen books, stolen identity: What did Israel do with Palestinians’ literary heritage?

NORA LESTER MURAD* recently went to see Benny Brunner’s film, The Great Book Robbery, the story of 70,000 looted books.

AP 1 corrTHE CAMERA follows two Palestinians with Israeli citizenship from the counter at Israel’s National Library to a table. They carry a small stack books from a collection labeled “AP” for “Absentee Property.”  They sit in front of them awestruck. They touch covers showing respect for the books, their rightful owners, and the Nakba that caused Palestinians to lose their country and heritage. Continue reading


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