Devastated Chinese library receives international funds

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The Beichuan library, China, is to receive Euro 120 000 from The Netherland's Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development to build storage rooms.

The library was destroyed in May 2008 by an earthquake that struck the province of Sichuan in central western China, devastating the entire Beichuan county and killing nearly 20 000 people.

The funds come from the Cultural Emergency Response (CER) arm of the organisation, which aims to provide first aid for cultural heritage that has been damaged or destroyed by manmade or natural disasters. Beichuan's collections are considered to be of great importance to the Qiang minority in China, one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognised by the Chinese government.

During the earthquake the library collapsed, killing one member of staff and burying the valuable collections under more than 20 metres of debris. Library director, Ms Li Chun, was rescued after being buried under the rubble for 75 hours.

Despite extreme conditions, the library staff have continued to serve local readers, operating some twenty temporary library branches constructed in hardboard in villages throughout Beichuan county.

With the Prince Claus Fund's support, Beichuan Library will now create storage rooms in the complex of the new library. The construction of a new library building, at a new location, will start in September of this year.

CER was launched in 2003 in reaction to the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad that shocked the world. Since then it has provided aid to cultural heritage in emergency situations in over twenty countries throughout the world.