UNESCO, Reconstruction, and Pursuing Peace through a “Library-Minded” World, 1945–1950

  • Miriam Intrator


In June 1941, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote that libraries “are directly and immediately involved in the conflict which divides our world”. Throughout the history of war and conflict, libraries and other cultural institutions have been purposefully or collaterally damaged or destroyed. According to Roosevelt, there were two reasons why this historic pattern was manifesting in World War II: first, because libraries “are essential to the functioning of a democratic society”, and second, because “the contemporary conflict touches the integrity of scholarship, the freedom of the mind, and even the survival of culture, and libraries are the great tools of scholarship, the great repositories of culture, and the great symbols of the freedom of the mind”.1 Weighing particularly heavily in 1941 among concerned individuals was the dark cloud of May 1933, when Adolf Hitler’s supporters throughout Germany flagrantly confiscated and burned books they considered undeutsch (un-German). Images and detailed reports of the burnings had circulated widely and been discussed and protested the world over.


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  1. 15.
    Edward Carter, “UNESCO’s Library Programs and Work”, The Library Quarterly 18: 4 (October 1948): 237.Google Scholar
  2. 30.
    Richard Hoggart, An Idea and its Servants: Unesco from Within (London: Chatto & Windus, 1978), 37. See also “UNESCO Coupons Can Buy Knowledge and Change Lives”, (accessed 29 October 2014)Google Scholar
  3. 31.
    Chloé Maurel, Histoire de l’UNESCO: Les trente premières années, 1945–1974 (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010), 238.Google Scholar
  4. 50.
    Edward Sydney, “Public Library Development in the Post-War Years: The First Decade” in Libraries and Information Studies in Retrospect and Prospect Essays in Honor of Prof. D.R. Kalia, ed. J.L. Sardana vol. 2 (New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2002), 342.Google Scholar
  5. 51.
    Kerstin Hassner, “The Model Library Project — A Way to Implement the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto”, IFLA Journal 1 (1999): 143–147 and Carter, “UNESCO’s Library Programme and Work”, 241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 52.
    Lucile M. Morsch, “Promoting Library Interests Throughout the World”, ALA Bulletin 51:8 (September 1957): 582.Google Scholar

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© Miriam Intrator 2016

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  • Miriam Intrator

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