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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Libraries and labs

I don't know what library we toured on Saturday with the group, but it was not the Mamma Haidera Family Library as I indicated in yesterday's post. Not sure where I got that impression on Saturday. It was a fine library and exhibit, an interesting stop on Saturday's tour, and served to illustrate the point of that post perfectly well. But it was not the Mamma Haidera Family Library. I know that now after touring the Mamma Haidera library with Mohamed and Hamidou on Tuesday.

Mohamed arrived at the hotel with a driver at 10:00 to take us on a city tour, and to hook up with Hamidou for a more expansive exploration of the libraries and lab. After the tour (to be covered in a future post - stay tuned), we visited the lab where Harlan and Hamidou coordinate to digitally document manuscripts. As I understand it, the SAVAMA - DCI Organization, funded by the Ford Foundation, is the overarching organizing structure working to preserve and protect these manuscripts. Harlan is leading a supporting project through Northwestern University (NUAMPS), with funding from the Mellon Foundation, to create and make available high definition, scholarship level photo imagery of some of the manuscripts for distribution on-line. Some photos from the day:

The Lab

In the lab with the team.

Hamidou demonstrates digital documentation of a manuscript page.

I take advantage of the great internet connectivity at the lab to post to the blog and IM with Harlan.

The Libraries

Entrance to the Al Imam Essayouti library in the shadow of the Sankore Mosque.

Entrance to the Al-Wangari Library.

Entrance to the Mamma Haidera library.

But before we go inside, a comparative reminder of the entrance to the Alimame Choffer library, highlighted in yesterday's post.

Inside the Mamma Haidera library. Cataloged and protected manuscripts in a climate controlled environment. The way it should be done.

Photo archiving workstations recently installed at the Mamma Hadeira library.

Women working on restoring and preserving manuscripts at Mamma Haidera.

The Manuscripts

At the Mamma Haidera library, selected manuscripts are displayed in rows of cabinets, on a wide variety of topics including politics, logic, mathematics, history ...

... Plants, Medicine ...

...and Astronomy.

The Ancient University of Sankore

Me, Sigrid, and Hamidou outside the door to the ancient university that housed many of these manuscripts centuries ago.

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