National Library of Iran in the midst of War of the Cities

PASYAR, Parisa and KHOSRAVI, Fariborz (2017) National Library of Iran in the midst of War of the Cities. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 83 - Library History SIG.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


National Library of Iran in the midst of War of the Cities

The War of the Cities was a series of five air raids, missile attacks, and artillery shelling on major cities and urban areas during the Iran-Iraq war lasting from September 1980 to August 1988. This series of five systematic air raids was conducted over eight years. The last time was extreme and expanded into more areas. After striking Grand Bazaar of Tehran in 1988, the National Library of Iran which was located nearby decided to protect its resources by moving them to a safe place. After searching to find the right place, at least 12000 manuscripts, 12000 lithographic and rare books, a part of the periodicals collection and some paintings and calligraphies were moved to the Banknotes Repository of Central Bank of Iran in sealed special banknotes boxes from March 7 to April 9, 1988. There are 28 photos that show the library staff in a line passing the books from stocks upstairs to the door downstairs to place in boxes. Windows of the building are covered with sandbags and the record number of the manuscript which had taken off the shelves is shown on the boxes. As has been mentioned in interviews and correspondences the trucks carried the books with a police escort. After the war the manuscripts were returned to the National Library but they were placed in the building which was previously the Cultural Office of Farah Pahlavi, called Niavaran Building. That building was in safer circumstances and belonged to the National Library of Iran in those days. Other resources were returned to the main building of National Library in 30 Tir Street until the new library building was generated in 2005. The interviews outlined in the paper imply that although not many things can be done without official relations, finding a solution in the time of crisis mostly rely on the sympathy of people who act together even if they are staff of different institutions with different organizational goals. The background of an organization remains in the minds of its staff and it seems to affect their behaviour and sense of appreciation and protection. Goals and dreams of an organization are other factors which made a commitment for its staff. That is why they were there even though they had lots of stress about their family members at home. Generally the atmosphere of the library was in such a way that the staff did not feel any gap between themselves and others, especially the faculty members. There was a strong sense of commitment and faith in work is evident in all interviewees.

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