Sharjah helps restore African library destroyed by fire

Restoration of Guinea’s popular library partially gutted by fire in 2012 is now complete

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Ian Denison, and other participants during the meeting announcing the restoration and renovation of the library

Sharjah: A well-loved library in West Africa destroyed by fire in 2012 has been restored thanks to the generous support of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah.

The Government of Sharjah on Tuesday announced the completion of the restoration and renovation of one of Guinea’s most loved libraries, the Djibril Tamsir Niane Library.

The library in the Guinean capital of Conakry was destroyed in a horrific fire in 2012, damaging more than 10,000 of the nation’s richest books and publications.

The announcement of the completion came during Sharjah’s grand participation as the Special Guest City for this year’s Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre), which concluded with a large set of the most remarkable achievements in breaking down cultural barriers.

Leading representatives from Sharjah’s publishing industry including Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and president of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA); Amani Al Ali, Sharjah World Book Capital Committee representative; and Marwa Al Agroubi, president of the UAE Board on Books for Young People were present during the announcement.

They were joined by Ian Denison, chief of Unesco Publishing and Branding, and from Conakry by Sansy Kaba Diakite, general commissioner, and other officials.

Among the affected were the works and books of Professor Djibril Tamsir Niane, a world-leading author and one of Africa’s most admired scholars. Sharjah has specifically pledged to help restore his work, including the digitisation of all his literature as well as most of the books that once stood on the shelves of the destroyed library.

Guinea, a nation known for leading Africa’s literature, culture and heritage, is the current title holder of Unesco’s World Book Capital 2017.

Sharjah’s involvement contributed to the renovation of the library, as well as the restoration of as many of its publications, documents and archives as possible. It will also look into ways at developing a new inventory system to ensure the safety and security of the library’s books.

Shaikha Budoor said: “Rebuilding a library is like restoring life to a generation. It is moments like these where we celebrate the global role which literature has been playing for many centuries, uniting nations and cultures together to face and address tragedies such as what happened in Conakry.

“Investing in literature is a necessity and responsibility bestowed on all of us, and Sharjah firmly believes that books and libraries effectively bring the world cultures together.”

Denison said the generous donation of Sharjah to reconstruct the emblematic library for Conakry is “a symbol of the intercultural dialogue that is promoted by Unesco”.

“It is a very strong gesture of solidarity between peoples, an important step towards building a network of World Book Capitals which will foster exchanges between cities,” he said.

DiakiteI said: “I extend my deepest gratitude to the emirate of Sharjah and for its beautiful donation to the Professor Djibril Tamsir Niane, and for its wonderful support in rebuilding one of Conarky’s vital libraries in Africa, in the context of Conarky World Book Capital 2017.”

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