The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has helped fund, supply, and train staff at two libraries in Gaza. One saw damage when it was occupied by the Israeli military, and the other was entirely destroyed, the building where it was housed razed to the ground:
IBBY is now sending out an appeal for funds to help rebuild these two libraries, which were funded in large part by American children’s author Katherine Paterson and her family foundation.
The two libraries, one in Rafah and one in Beit Hanoun, were launched in 2008. According to the IBBY release, it wasn’t an easy process:
The librarians had to be trained long distance because of the ongoing Israeli Government blockade and the Egyptian Government’s frequent closure of the border crossing into Egypt, both of which makes travel impossible for the residents of Gaza. The books selected by IBBY experts in the region took months to arrive, but they did finally reach Gaza and the libraries could at last open.
In April 2013, the IBBY president, executive director and foundation president visited Gaza to check on the libraries and found “how much the young library users loved and depended on their libraries.”
It was little over a year later that one of these libraries was destoyed. It was dawn on Sunday, July 18, when “the Israeli Occupation forces targeted the al-Ataa Charitable Society resulting in the partial destruction of the building. The damage was great and among the projects that were destroyed was the IBBY library” in Beit Hanoun.
A second strike came on July 28, when a rocket was dropped by an F16. It completely leveled the building.
The al-Shawka library in Rafah is fortunately in better shape. It “was occupied by the military and left in a very dirty condition with its windows broken. However, even though much of the equipment is broken or missing, the books are still on their shelves. This is good news for the children, although the majority of them have lost their homes and the librarian’s house was completely destroyed.”
The IBBY community is committed to restoring these libraries, and is asking for help to fund the reconstruction. If you would like to help, you can donate here. The IBBY’s appeal is also available in Arabic.
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