Diary of Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive, posted online by British library

Historians in the News

When the Saddam regime was toppled in 2003, the Iraq National Library and Archive in Baghdad was set alight and looted. Much damage was done, in particular to the library’s archive collections. Dr Saad Eskander, the Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive – a former British Library reader pass-holder – has visited the British Library on several occasions subsequently.

In 2005, with the damage to the library collections greater than had first been thought, Dr Eskander requested some specific assistance from us for rebuilding his collections. With monetary assistance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, we were able to help by providing microfilm copies of rare books and also microfiche copies of India Office records relating to the administration of Iraq 1914-1921. Later in the same year, Chief Executive Lynne Brindley hosted a dinner Dr Eskander, attended by a number of prominent librarians from the public library and university library sector. A consignment of publications is currently on its way to Baghdad as a further contribution to the rebuilding of the National Library and Archive.

Dr Eskander's journal, which appears with his kind permission, starts in November 2006 and describes the perilous and tragic situation that the Iraq National Library and Archive is operating under and which led to the institution's temporary closure at the end of that month.

In early December, after consulting the heads of his departments, Dr Eskander re-opened the National Library and Archive even though the security situation remained as bad as before.
Read entire article at http://www.bl.uk

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