Prelude to Iraq National Library and Archives
(Saad Eskander, DG, Iraq National Library & Archive)
Iraq National Library and Archive (INLA) occupies a central position in the development of Iraqi culture through collecting and recording all types of local publications (e.g. books, journals, newspaper and maps) and documenting official and semi-official files and private papers. Thus, the INLA is the principal source of information and data on Iraq’s political, social, economic, administrative and cultural life, which scholars and university students use for their own researches. Since 2003, the INLA has sought to modernize itself. It succeeded in putting an end to its isolation from the international community of libraries and archives by establishing direct relations with foreign cultural institutions with the aim of benefiting from their experiences and acknowledge.
Immediately after the collapse of the Saddam regime and in the middle of the ensuing chaotic situation (9-12 April 2003), some arsonists set fire to various parts of the INLA’s main building, causing considerable structural damages. Almost all the equipments were destroyed or carried away. Most importantly, serious damages were inflicted upon the INLA’s collections of book, journals, files, records, photographs and maps. The Republican archive (1958-1979) was destroyed in its entirety. It is estimated that the library lost 25% of its collections, including its rare books, whereas the archive lost 60% of its collections, including invaluable Ottoman records.
The INLA’s new administration has adopted a policy that is in harmony with the construction process of a new democratic, federal and multi-cultural Iraq. In spite of encountering huge challenges and difficulties, including terrorist attacks, environmental threats, and shortage of money, power cut and lack of expertise, the INLA has moved forward in a relatively short period, as several objectives have been realized:
In conclusion, the INLA owes debt of gratitude to several foreign institutions, which has been helping it to pass through its present ordeal, such as the Italian NGO, un Ponte Per, the regional governments of Lombardi and Tuscany, the Czech Ministries of culture and Foreign Affairs, the Czech Gemma-Art Group, the British Library, the National Archives of the UK, the British Embassy in Baghdad, the Simmons College (Boston), the Harvard and UCLA and the staff of UNISCO in Baghdad
Copyright © 2006 Iraqi National Library and Archive All rights reserved