Rebuilding a Library from Scratch

From Aramco World magazine July/August 2018 comes this rather surprising announcement about a Canadian museum exhibition that features an ancient library in the Middle East. The exhibit is titled 168.01 — A Library Rising from the Ashes. In 2003 The College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost its entire library of 70,000 books during the invasion of Iraq when looters set fire to the collection. Previously in the 13th century Mongol army invaders destroyed all the libraries in Baghdad. The invaders threw the entire library of the Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) into the Tigris River to create a bridge of books their army could use to cross the river. “The pages bled ink into the river for seven days—168 hours—at the end of which the books were drained of knowledge.”  Wafaa Bilat, the Iraqi artist, named his museum exhibit 168:01 to indicate the first moment when grief yields to a spur to take action to move forward from loss.  His exhibit runs at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto through August 19, 2018. ————— From the Web:  The artist of the exhibit has been running a Kickstarter Funding campaign to buy new books. In 2016, more than 1600 books were donated to the project around the world. Here is Wafaa Bilat below:   Kickstarter Funding – Wishlist Books were purchased from Amazon by the 168.01 team using funds from the Kickstarter campaign. Books were first sent to the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Esker Foundation as part of the exhibitions, before being prepared for shipment to Baghdad. During the exhibition at the Esker Foundation, the local community purchased white books from the gallery and the gallery used the money to buy books from a local bookstore. Individual and Institutional Donations – People and institutions from around the globe purchased books from the Amazon list and/or donated books from their personal collections. These books were also sent to the galleries for the exhibition and prepared for shipment after the exhibitions ended. At the end of the exhibition at the Esker Foundation, all of the purchased and donated books from all sources were organized, cataloged, and prepared for shipment. The Books are being prepared for delivery to Baghdad. To see how the books will be shipped as well as awards the artist and exhibit have received click here:   The librarian behind it all Judith Frangos is...
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Even Famous Authors Self-Publish

Lawrence Block is an award-winning best-selling author of several book series and short stories. Block is most famous for his Burglar mysteries. Block’s Burglar books feature Bernie Rhodenbarr. Bernie is a bookseller by day and high-class thief by night.

This series of ten books began in 1977 with Burglars Can’t be Choosers, and seemed to end in 2004 with Burglar on the Prowl.

Then nearly ten years later, in 2013, The Burglar Who Counted Spoons came out as a self-published book by Block.

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Walter Benjamin – Storytelling vs. Fiction

Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller” in Illuminations: Walter Benjamin: Essays and Reflections (English translation 1968), will be thought-provoking for anyone who loves to write or read fiction.

Most of us think of fiction as storytelling, but it isn’t really. I can attest to this from experience.

Back on a September day in 2004, my drumming mentor, Barbara Borden, gave me a day pass to “The Healing Power of Art” at Moscone Center in San Francisco. On my way to Moscone I passed an intriguing stranger.

What caught my eye at first was a large patch of burnt-looking skin on his face. I recognized it immediately.

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Mobile Libraries on Four Legs

In What’s Going On at the Library, I noted that some librarians are making space for new kinds education within library walls while others are taking their expertise outside the library and on to the Internet.

The movement to go outside library walls isn’t exactly a new trend, though. In early California librarians used to ride out all over the state on horses all to deliver books. This WPA photo below shows one of these “pack horse librarians” delivering books to her patrons.

In Northeastern Kenya librarians are using camels to deliver books to children

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Building Libraries for African Children

Last December I published a post about an inspiring documentary featuring librarians In Northeastern Kenya who walk hundreds of miles with camels to deliver books to children. This year, along with part of that post below, I’m including ways you can help build African libraries.

In the US the African Library Project coordinates book drives here and partners with African schools and villages to start small libraries.

In Africa, some of the African Library Project’s partners include Peace Corps volunteers and school administrations.

Former Peace Corps members and others request books that are organized into libraries serving local African communities. One such Peace Corps volunteer was my sister-in-law Ginnie Humphreys who served in Lesotho about a decade ago.

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