Special interview with the General Director of Iraq National Library and Archive

In the midst of changes in the general reality of the Iraqi state, and the consequent change of cultural reality, it is imperative that cultural institutions be in a position of responsibility. In order to shed light on the work of cultural institutions that would promote the current reality positively, , We met the General Director of Iraq National Library and Archive in Baghdad, Dr. Saad Bashir Askandar. He received us in his office and we had this interview with him:

Q / Welcome. Can you tell us about the mechanism of work of Iraq National Library and Archive?

• Welcome and the staff of The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation at Iraq National Library and Archive. The House is a public government institution with two institutions: Iraq National Library, which is concerned with documenting the intellectual and cultural production of Iraq, ie, protecting the Iraqi memory and introducing it to the outside world. The second institution is the National Archive Center, which is the national center for documentation which represents the historical memory of the country. The two institutions complement each other and the National Center works to preserve and collect important official documents as a source of information dealing with various aspects of life of the Iraqi state since its establishment.

After 2003, we expanded our work so that we deal with the sensitive documents left by the institutions of the former regime, which are of political, social, cultural or security importance to the victims of the former regime.

We seek to strengthen relations not only with governmental institutions in the governorate, but with non-governmental institutions such as The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation in Najaf and with Shiite, Sunni and Christian Awqaf.

We have a privileged relation with The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation and for a long time based on the sound cooperation with the foundation, It supports the House through the transference of microfilm and microfiche, which is a snapshot of Iraqi old documents to the Digital system.

Q / Tell us about the document preservation law?

• In every civilized country, there is a law that prevents the destruction of official papers and determines the extent of benefit of it. The law came to protect the Iraqi memory and prevent tampering with the important papers. The first law issued in 1942 to prevent the destruction of official papers and it was completed with the law in 1963 which is a law that protects the documents from damage through preservation and benefit from them to the subsequent generations and thus use these documents in legitimate ways to protect the social and cultural fabric in the Iraqi state

Q / How does The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation support the house? How effective is this?

• The documents that we have is on paper or film or digital, and The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation  contributed to the transformation of the film into a digital format, and digital format make it more useful. It is a fundamental process for the speeding up access to information. The other thing is that electronic digitization is a preservation of the original documents. The institution helps us in a vital part of our work.

Q / How effective is the House in the associations and the international documentation councils?

• International associations are not all effective. IFLA is less effective than the International Council for Documentation and Archives .We are currently members of the International Council for Archives and we lost our membership in the IFLA because of the failure of government bodies to pay the annual subscription are often paid in arrears, which prevents us from participating in international conferences and refraining from formulating policies and procedures, all of which depends on the payment of subscription.

The cooperation between The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation and Iraq National Library and Archive in several fields, and the intention is that The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation to contribute in opening a branch of the House of Books and Manuscripts in Najaf province.

Q / last words?

We are happy to meet Sheikh Ahmed Kashif Al-Ghitaa, Deputy Secretary General of The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation and the delegation accompanying him during their visit to the House. This visit is a very necessary fact to enhance cooperation between the public and private sectors and between the religious institutions and others. The cooperation between The General Kashif Al-Ghitaa Foundation and National Library and Archive is serious and fruitful.

We are very happy that the institutions of the Hawza and religious schools have a hand in protecting the Iraqi heritage memory. at the end, I say that the city of Najaf is the repository of knowledge, the documents and manuscripts are dealt with in a correct scientific manner

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