The Library as Lifeline

POST WRITTEN BY: Marie S. Newman (Library Director and Professor of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University)

pexels stock2From the BBC Magazine comes this poignant article about a secret library located somewhere in the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya in Syria.  Book lovers have rescued over 14,000 books on many different subjects from bombed buildings.  The rescuers risk their lives when they go into the ruins:  “We have to go through bombed-out buildings to hide ourselves from snipers.  We have to be extremely careful because snipers sometimes follow us in their sights, anticipating the next step we’ll take.”  The library’s users also risk their lives when they visit the library; in fact, the library is in such a dangerous area that children are not usually allowed to use it.  The location of the library is a well-guarded secret, because “users fear it would be targeted by Darayya’s attackers if they knew where it was.”  The library meets the community’s need for information, but it also gives hope to its users:  “Books motivate us to keep on going.  We read how in the past everyone turned their backs on a particular nation, yet they still made it.  So we can be like that too.  They help us plan for life once Assad is gone.  We can only do that through the books we are reading.  We want to be a free nation.  And hopefully, by reading, we can achieve this.”

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