Al-Quds University is a Palestinian university with several campuses in Jerusalem, Al-Bireh, and Abu Dis. In 2013, library administrators gave our delegation a tour of a brand new library, during which time we were told that a donor contributed money for the building, but not for books, furniture, or other resources like computers.
Acquiring new books and resources for all Palestinian libraries in the West Bank and within Israel is a constant challenge, both for financial reasons (which applies to both print and electronic resources) and because the Israeli government controls all materials moving across the Israeli border.
Although charitable donations of books may seem like a feasible solution, at Al-Quds University which is currently in the process of centralizing and expanding its dispersed collections we saw why donations can sometimes cause more harm than good. Al-Quds University received a donation of thirty thousand textbooks from a donor organization, most of which were duplicates or were not used in any of the courses offered at the University. After sorting through the titles, the librarians selected three or four hundred titles to keep and are now faced with the challenge of finding ways to off-load the thousands of remaining titles.
We were also told by librarians that the issues they experience, including violence perpetrated by Israeli forces on campus, have been greatly misconstrued by the international library community:
“At an international level, support for alleviating the problems faced by libraries and archives is tepid. For instance, a recent report issued by the International Federation of Libraries and Archives (IFLA) compares Israeli and Palestinian libraries and archives as if they existed on an equal footing without acknowledging Israeli destruction and ongoing harassment of Palestinian libraries and archives. IFLA’s stance is that it must wait until problems are ‘resolved’ and it even states that Israel has legitimate ‘security fears'” (Kuntz, Blair. “A Report on the Librarians and Archivists to Palestine Delegation, June 23-July 4, 2013.” Science for Peace Bulletin. December 2013).
For more information about Al-Quds University and its library, visit their webpage.