Canberra buys books for Aceh

The National Library of Australia announces the donation of books in Indonesian language to the value of $13,000 to assist the relief effort in Banda Aceh.

The books, mostly children’s books and adult recreational reading, will be purchased by the Library’s regional office in Jakarta, and donated directly to the refugee camps in Aceh, now housing over 250,000 people.

The Library’s contribution will be further enhanced by six independent Canberra booksellers who will initiate a range of activities during May 2005 that will raise funds to purchase additional books.

The Aceh public library system was devastated by the 2004 disaster. A visit by the National Library of Australia’s regional officer in May 2005 confirmed that only the building of the main public library in Banda Aceh still stands, while the collection of more than 200,000 books and all mobile library vans were destroyed. In addition, more than one third of the library staff perished.

Director-General Jan Fullerton spoke of the benefits of the National Library’s support.

“This kind of assistance, done through our regional office in Jakarta in conjunction with staff of the National Library of Indonesia, will ensure that the most appropriate books can be purchased locally and delivered directly into the refugee camps.

“Libraries play a vital role in all communities. Ensuring that children and adults have access to both educational and recreational reading material will contribute to the rehabilitation process.

“We are delighted that our efforts are being supported in such a tangible way by the Canberra booksellers,” she said.

The National Library of Australia has had an office in Jakarta since 1971. The current manager, Ralph Sanderson, is working closely with National Library of Indonesia staff to ensure the success of the venture. The two national libraries have a long history of cooperation, recognised recently by signing a memorandum of understanding The project is being managed by Amelia McKenzie, Director of the Asian Collections, National Library of Australia in Canberra.

People in the ACT can assist by purchasing books during June at the following bookshops: Alexander Fax Booksellers, Mawson; Asia Bookroom, Belconnen; Book Lore, Lyneham; Daltons Books, Canberra City ; Gaslight Books, Fyshwick; and Paperchain Bookstore, Manuka.

Media contact:

Yvonne Kennedy
Director Communications and Marketing
Telephone: 02 6262 1353 or 0411 753 891
Email: ykennedy@nla.gov.au