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Subject: National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina

National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina

From: Arsenio Sanchez Hernamperez <archival>
Date: Friday, May 12, 2000
Last August, I had the chance to visit the destroyed National and
University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo (Biblioteca
Nacional Universitaria de Bosnia Herzegovina--BNU BiH), in order to
make some reports requested by the National Library of Spain and the
Spanish NGO "Paz Ahora" (Peace Now).

As is well known, war caused a steady destruction of the historic
and cultural patrimony from Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina. After
war, the damage caused on libraries, archives, museums and any other
cultural buildings was greater than that caused in Yugoslavia by the
two World Wars. Destruction has been extraordinary on those areas
considered as ethnically "impure" and specially on very important
settlements such as Mostar, Stolac, Foca or Sarajevo.

On the night of August 25, 1992, the National and University
Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo was bombed. The
building became a pyre in which collections placed up on the ground
floor, nearly 40%, and all the library catalogues, burned. The
building was absolutely wrecked. A special report of the European
Council says that a part of the most valuable collections could be
saved. However, more than 600,000 books were lost. The library
remains in ruins and only first re-building stage, subsidized by
Austria, is going on.

Thanks to the Barcelona Council, Paz Ahora had the necessary means
to carry out a watch mission on the spot, in August 1999. Due to the
excessive complexity of the project, technically speaking, Paz Ahora
formally applied for technical assistance to Mr. Luis Alberto de
Cuenca y Prado, General Manager of the National Library of Spain
(NLS) in June 1999. NLS took on the cost of the reports.

On 26th August 26, 1999, seven years after the bombing, we carried
out a watch mission, holding some meetings in Sarajevo with the
Bosnian librarians and we could verify the total lack of
infrastructure maintenance and library resources as well as a very
alarming decrease in the number of reconstruction projects.

Devastation caused by the Bosnia Herzegovina war has been
considerable and of a great importance for the country's
development. Disaster is particularly hard on libraries and
Archives, because of the loss of huge amounts of irreplaceable
manuscripts and non-textual records. Although different
international projects begin getting out positive results, these
were just focused on the Bosnian Bibliography--by the Michigan
University,--or on the endowment of bibliographic materials to the
devastated libraries, forgetting all about the protection of the
preserved pre-war documents. However, endowment of preservation
infrastructures for BNU BiH must be an essential element for the
cultural reconstruction in Bosnia after 1992-1995 war.

The project of NLS and Peace Now establishes the endowment of a
preservation service made up of three workshops: bookbinding,
conservation and microfilming. In the future, it is considered the
possibility to acquire digitizing equipment. The Bosnian technicians
will also carry out in a preservation course in preservation
imparted by specialists of the NLS. The cost of the project is
nearly $325.000$ (361.500 ECU). The total cost for the library
rebuilding would be up to $16.000.000, (18.000.000 ECU).

We look forward your cooperation. There is a current account to
subsidize part of the reconstruction project. Transfers can be done
on the Sarajevo Library Account no. 0104-0001-17 0307050019
(Argentaria Bank)

Further information,

    Paz Ahora
    C/ Abada no 2, Piso 6o 8.
    28013 Madrid.
    +34 91 5234091
    Fax: +34 91 5329692
    pazahora [at] nodo50__org

For more information about Bosnia-Herzegovina cultural destruction
and specially about Sarajevo Library, visit

Arsenio Sanchez Hernamperez
Laboratorio de Restauracion
Biblioteca Nacional
Po de Recoletos 20
28071 Madrid

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:57
                   Distributed: Tuesday, May 16, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-57-001
Received on Friday, 12 May, 2000

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