I am writing to you on behalf of Humanity in Action in Bosnia and Herzegovina. HiA SFN BiH is part of a larger human and minority rights NGO called Humanity in Action. This NGO is active in 5 European countries and in the U.S. It is an international educational organization with trans-Atlantic, interdisciplinary programs dedicated to engaging young leaders in the protection of minority human rights.
For over 10 decades up to the beginning of the Bosnian war in 1992-1995, Vijecnica was at the centre of scientific work and teaching in the institutions of higher education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, this irreplaceable heritage has been lost forever, as the library tragically went up in flames on the nights of 25th -26th August 1992. The collective memories of the numerous generations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina were lost.
During the four-year long Serb siege of Sarajevo, from 1992 till 1995, Vijecnica was repeatedly shelled by the Yugoslav and afterward by the Serbian army. On that fatal date, the 26th of August 1992, the library burned. About 80 percent of the collection, around 2 (two) million publications and more than 6000 valuable rare items and documents, were lost. The interior of the library building was almost completely destroyed in the fire.
The scientific, literary and artistic work, collected over the decades on the territory of Southeastern Europe, works written by hand or printed in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and other languages, music sheets, geographic maps, letters, postcards, have also been destroyed. The damages caused to the holdings of this department are inestimable.
From April to August 1992, in an unforeseen set of events, the staff evacuated parts of Vijećnica’s collection to various locations in the city – atomic shelters, basement rooms, university buildings or other cultural centers. Inadequate and “temporary” premises, barely sufficient to accommodate retrieved publications, performed all the tasks of the national library.
Now many years on, year there is a growing number of users, foreign delegations, scholars and students, as well as the introduction of new media of communication, but it is all insufficient.
Therefore, we believe the initiative must be taken! And you can help us! We need your support to make funding science our top priority, to establish scientific and technological development and to create state funds for research and development so that BiH can reach its potential. Therefore, we, a group of young enthusiasts from HIA BIH, started this action in order to promote these values.
Please support our education system; help us believe the international community can support us to go forward. Instead of sending us money, please send us 2 (two) books from your own school library. In this way, both you and we will know where these books are and how they have been used.
We kindly ask you for:
– the first book, you send us to be a contemporary publication in one of the world languages, related to common knowledge in social or natural science (Philosophy, Law, Medicine, Literature etc…), which can benefit our students in many ways (please see the list of suggestions on our webpage)
– the second book to be in your own language, related to your city, culture, history, geography, architecture etc…, so that our library users can benefit from this multilingual and intercultural exchange.
Vijećnica has been selected for admission to the World Monuments Watch list of 100 endangered monuments for 2008 in the category of “endangered monuments during conflict” as an “architectural witness to the cultural diversity of the town damaged in the war.”
We have included, with this letter, a web link that can provide you with more information on Vijećnica and City of Sarajevo itself – title: Bosnia’s National & University Library in ruins (2003).
We are planning to create a website, at the end of the year, where all of our donations and donors will be listed, and will express our deepest gratitude for your support.
This is a firsthand observation of the human and cultural destruction in this tragic period. Please help us make it right. Rebuilding Vijećnica means giving back the spirit of science and education to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Project Leader, HIA BiH
University of Sarajevo – Campus Zmaja od Bosne, bb.
71000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Reference to Mr. Muris Rahmanovic
List of book suggestions for the donors:
Architecture, Biology, Communication and Media Studies, Dentistry, Democracy and human rights, Economics, European studies, Geography, International relations, Law & legal studies, Linguistics, Medicine, Pedagogy and Education, Political science, Psychology, Physics, Religion studies, Security studies, Social studies