The interview is the published as a FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression) Spotlight. The interview was first published in the National Library of Finland’s magazine Kansalliskirjasto.
Here’s one question and answer from the interview.
Q. What about new projects and developing your collections?
A. A lot is going on. We founded the first restoration laboratory in Iraq with the financial help of the Czech Republic. Czech experts trained my restorers in Prague and in Iraq. All the equipment for the laboratory was brought from Germany. We encouraged other cultural institutions to follow our step in preserving Iraqi cultural heritage.
We also replaced the old microfilm department, which was burnt down during the chaotic period of April 2003. Instead of outdated microfilm equipment, we acquired the newest equipment from Europe. Once again, the Czech government funded the purchase of microfilm equipment. The Ohio Genealogical Society in the US sent us four of its microfilms cameras. So far, more than a half million records have been microfilmed.
The INLA was the fifth institution to join the World Digital Library Project and we’ve put special emphasis on digitisation. Through purchases and gifts we could set up the first advanced IT department in Iraq. Our IT staff regularly receive training inside and outside Iraq. Tens of thousands of records and periodicals have been digitized.
Last year, with financial help from the EU and in partnership with the Italian NGO Un Ponte Per, we were able to implement an Iraq-wide training course on digitalization, database and web management. More than 18 universities and cultural institutions took part. This year, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will fund a new project, which will be in part a continuation of the EU project. It involves the establishment of a digitalization and restoration laboratory for Iraqi movie archives. We expect that a number of staff will be trained in Bologna’s film studios. We also hope that soon we’ll be able to open our sound digitalization department with the aim to digitalize and preserve traditional Iraqi music.
We’ve also started the construction of a five-storey building, which will be called the Digital Library. It will cost around 19 million dollars. The idea is that readers can use our digitalized audio-visual collections, periodicals, books and records on-site or via the internet.
The Generation Library, a national library for children, was completed last year. We expect to provide it with all the necessary publications, furniture, audio-visual materials and equipment before the end of the year.
And last month, the National Library was physically separated from the National Archives as the new building for our archival collections was completed. It has five floors of storage space and two floors for offices and the microfilm laboratory.