Contrary to what most people may think, even national libraries are struggling to survive. In war-torn Afghanistan there is no official national library. Therefore, the central public library in Kabul has taken up the role of playing the National Library of Afghanistan, for lack of a better library. All their books are pre-1980’s and the new books are only in the children’s section. Most of the staff have not taken any courses in librarianship, but have a visible desire to help out in any way possible. Gift books have been donated to the library from Iran and the United States, but are still shelved away, not catalogued and available to the public. Gholamreza Amirkhani, a professor from the National Library of Iran the academic Library of Kabul University and found it was a horrific place designated for book burning during the Taliban regime’s rule. He says, “At first I could not believe that books were still burned in the 21st century: however, seeing where it was done, I accepted this bitter fact.” (Amirkhani, 2002) During the Taliban’s regime (Infoplease.com, 2008) from 1996 to 2001 many of the books were burned to “restrict the books to the Pashtu language.” Although the central public library in Kabul has taken up the role of the National Library of Afghanistan, there is a multitude of work that needs to be done. The Afghanistan National Archive contains historical manuscripts and documents that were thankfully not harmed by the Taliban. These ancient treasures will be a catalyst to helping build up the National Library of Afghanistan’s own collection of work.
What are some suggestions to help the National Library of Afghanistan become a stronger and more publicized library? What other objectives could be thought to make the National Library of Afghanistan a thriving and actual place for patrons throughout the country?
Amirkhani, G. (2002). Visitors find War-weary Kabul Librarians struggling to rebuild. American Libraries, 33(11).