Thursday, August 03, 2006

Plight of the Lebanese National Library

NPR's "Day to Day" profiled the Lebanese National Library on Tuesday, highlighting the difficulties posed by decades of war. The library's materials, including rare manuscripts dating back centuries, are now being stored above a shop in the port of Beirut; they were nearly hit by an Israeli strike on the port in mid-July. The books and manuscripts are already in need of significant work after years of inadequate storage and neglect.

The report notes that restoration work is ongoing on the National Library's collections, funded partly by grants from the EU. The emir of Qatar has donated $25 million to restore a building for the library's use ... the building is currently housing more than 1,500 refugees, and plans for the library may have to be put on hold now that funding will be needed to replace infrastructure destroyed in the recent fighting.

Just a grim reminder of yet another cost of war.