Qatar National Library (QNL) brought together experts from the Arab region to discuss the fight against the illegal trafficking and smuggling of manuscripts heritage items across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).
The opening speech at the event was given by Dr Hamda al-Sulaiti, secretary-general of the Qatari National Committee for Education, Culture and Science.
Stephane Ipert, director of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Preservation and Conservation Centre (PAC) Regional Centre at Qatar National Library, was joined by Dr Rajaa Ben Salamah, general director of the National Library of Tunisia, and Dr Alsharqi Dahmali, member of the Advisory Council of the International Council of Museums in Morocco.
The event was moderated by Maxim Nasra, co-ordinator of the IFLA PAC Regional Centre at QNL.
“Documentary heritage is particularly at risk for trafficking, as it’s less likely to be protected by national legislation than other artefacts, and is easier to move illegally,” Ipert said.
“For several years, trafficking and smuggling of heritage items from libraries and archives have been rising. In the Mena region in particular, this phenomenon is greater due to the number of nations suffering from conflict, upheaval and impoverishment.”
Ipert also spoke in March this year at the World Customs Organisation in Brussels, Belgium, where he presented the activities of the IFLA PAC Regional Centre to counter the trafficking of manuscripts, books and archives in the Mena region.
Dr Salamah said, “Libraries play such important roles in the preservation and restoration of documentary heritage and forgotten treasure. We can help by building a network and raising awareness of the pricelessness and cultural value of artefacts, and making them available to all through digitisation and publishing, as well as preserving the originals.”
As a PAC Regional Centre, QNL aims to create a professional network of collaborative assistance to exchange knowledge and share successful experiences toward the preservation of documentary heritage throughout the region.
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