Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ancient Manuscripts to be Saved by Crowdfunding

It always pleases me when high tech solutions are applied to low tech problems. Truly, I can’t imagine a case that would be a better example than this one. Timbuktu Libraries in Exile is using crowdfunding to try to raise $100,000 in order to save ancient manuscripts smuggled out of Timbuktu during the crisis in Mali. According to the Guardian, there are hundreds of thousands of them.

Dating back over 700 years, the fragile manuscripts range from poetry to commerce records, and are from Andalusia and Southern Europe, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco,and Arab trading ports on the Indian Ocean as well as the region of Timbuktu itself. Initially reported to have been destroyed by Islamist rebels in a fire, the 300,000 manuscripts were evacuated from Timbuktu by librarians and archivists.
The Indigogo campaign sums it up like this:
In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss.
Using an approach that will seem familiar to anyone who has ever watched PBS, a tiered contribution program offers donators the opportunity to gain premiums such as archival prints, half-hour Skype calls with archivists and even, with a $25,000 donation, the opportunity to visit the manuscripts in Mali.

At time of writing, they had achieved more than half of their goal with a couple of days yet to go. To contribute or even to see more about manuscripts and their amazing journey, visit the indiegogo web site here.


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