Showing posts from January, 2013

African Manuscripts - a treasure in danger?

I have worked with manuscripts for over 20 years now; as a librarian, academic and as a consultant helping others to digitise their collections. I have worked in various African countries with many great libraries and archives for over 10 years. I love Africa, I love the people, the culture, the heritage - their manuscript collections, archives and rock art are things of wonder. Not least because Africa is a continent that has been wracked by the three horsemen of the manuscript conservationists nightmares: war, pestilence and natural disaster. So it is with incredible sadness that I note today the loss of potentially thousands of manuscripts from the New Ahmed Baba Institute building in Mali. The story in the news (see  Guardian   and  Sky ) and online ( @howden_africa  in particular) suggests that: "Islamist insurgents retreating from the ancient Saharan city of Timbuktu have set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless ancient manuscripts, some dating back to the