I may well be the last person to have seen this, as it was posted at the end of last month, but the “Librarians to Palestine” group has a wonderfully charming old-fashioned zine — documenting and illustrating their trip last summer — that they’ve scanned and put online:
The zine includes poetic travelogues, memoir, collage-imagery, poetry, drawings, and reflections of library and archive collections in historic Palestine.
Elisabet Risberg writes about the Arabic translation of a Swedish children’s book, which is available at the Nablus Public Library, and laments that Arabic children’s books from Lebanon, the UAE, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt that are not available. “Librarians we met told us about books ending up in quarantine at the border for up to a year, just to be sent back, never reaching the libraries at all.”
“And if the books reach the library,” she writes, “they’ll have to pay for the time in quarantine.”
Yet “the situation for the children’s libraries in Israel 48 seems to be even worse as they have difficulty just getting hold of books published by Tamer Institute in Ramallah! To even try to import books from Lebanon is unthinkable as that would be ‘trading with enemy.'”
And although there are wonderful children’s books coming out of the UAE and Egypt, many of the best are produced by Lebanese publishers.
A page of fact fragments, compiled by Vani Natarajan and laid over a photograph of the Baha’i Terraces on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, notes:
“The first school libraries for Jewish schools in Palestine were established in 1927.
“The first school libraries for Palestinian schools within ’48 were established in 1992.
“In Haifa, there are 21 public library branches serving Jews and one serving Paletinians. This branch is run by an NGO.
“Local Palestinian councils in ’48 are on the receiving end of budgetary discrimination. One school librarian told us her library’s annual budget was $250.”
See the whole zine here, and long live the zine!