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Reconstruction of Libraries in Kosovo

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release
18 October 2000
The Hague, Netherlands

Initiatives to begin the reconstruction of public libraries in the war-torn province of Kosovo were agreed at a recent meeting in The Hague.

Representatives of key players agreed a plan of action, which would establish a network of mobile libraries throughout the country. 65 library buildings had been destroyed or severely damaged during the recent conflict. Following the recommendations of a recent report on libraries in Kosovo [see note], it was agreed that the quickest and most effective way to serve the needs of people, in the greatest number of communities, would be a mobile library and information service. The Open Society Institute in Kosovo, 'KFOS', has already ordered one vehicle. Two others are expected to be funded by donors, and sources for several more are currently being sought. All vehicles will provide Internet access. The United Nations' civil administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, has agreed to provide security for the service and to ensure its continuation after completion of the initial projects.

Other initiatives agreed were:

  • To establish a Kosovo Libraries Consortium, consisting of key players, to act as the focal point, linking international interests with interests in Kosovo
  • To take steps to establish an effective library infrastructure in Kosovo, including a Kosovo Library Council, which would give advice, and make recommendations to relevant bodies, on library and information services and on projects and expenditure
  • To develop the role of the National and University Library, to enable it to provide central technical services and a range of services to support libraries at the regional and local level
  • To develop a network of regional resource centres, supporting all types of libraries in their districts
  • To hold seminars and workshops to disseminate best practice.
It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the group in Prishtina, and to plan a general conference of library staff in Kosovo and a training workshop on the same occasion.

Ross Shimmon, Secretary General of IFLA, who chaired the meeting, said: "Libraries are a vital tool for reconstruction and the establishment of democracy. That is why we need to rebuild the library network in Kosovo, where people lack truly basic necessities such as houses, heating, and electricity." He stressed that the meeting was determined that the thought-provoking, yet practical, report Libraries in Kosova/Kosovo should not, like so many others, be left to gather dust on the shelves. "I believe that the key international agencies, working closely with librarians and local communities can help make a difference to people's lives", he said.


Ross Shimmon or Sjoerd Koopman

Tel: +31 70 31 40884
Fax: +31 70 3834827
Email: ifla@ifla.org


  1. Libraries in Kosovo/Kosova: a general assessment and a short and medium-term development plan is the report by Carsten Frederiksen and Frode Baken, of a mission undertaken by them on the behalf of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Office. Copies are available from:
    IFLA/FAIFE Office,
    Islands Brygge 37, DK 2300,
    COPENHAGEN S. Denmark.
    Tel: +45 33 66 46 27/37
    Fax: +45 33 66 70 64
    URL: www.faife.dk

  2. Representatives of UNESCO, IFLA, UNMIK, and the Open society Institute attended the meeting, together with the two authors of the report. The Director of the National and University Library of Kosovo and the representative of the Council of Europe were planning to attend, but were unable to do so at the last minute.


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