3 June 2013

Biblioclasts


bib·lio·clast noun \ˈbib-lē-ə-ˌklast, : a mutilator or destroyer of books

"In their drive to purge Cambodia of the perceived taint of religious and imperialist influences, the brutal Khmer Rouge tried to wipe out any record of these influences.
Nearly all of Cambodia's 60 librarians were killed under the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979. At the National Library in the capital, Phnom Penh, all but a few hundred of the tens of thousands of Khmer language titles were burned. The library was used to house pigs." -- "EDUCATION; Cornell Tries to Help Cambodia Preserve Its Past." New York Times 26 July 1989. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 June 2013. (http://search.proquest.com/docview/427264367?accountid=26503)
National Library Cambodia
National Library of Cambodia, 2009.

A preview from Burning Books And Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence And Cultural Destruction, by Rebecca Knuth includes a child's experience of this time in Phnom Penh.

I visited Cambodia in 2009. In the photograph above my son is on the stairs of the National Library of Cambodia, perhaps where the pigs had been herded into the building. We visited on a day it was closed so there was no opportunity to see the inside, or the state of the collection. I had heard, or read somewhere, that one of the librarians had handed over - left it on the street - as much of the collection as they could to the public to secrete away, as he felt that it would be safer in the community than in the Library at that terrifying time. Apparently some of those items were returned to the Library many years later.

I'm very thankful to be working in an environment where my life is not at risk because of my job.