Libraries in the Time of War

March 16, 2023. Hosted by Uppsala University in Collaboration with IFLA and CERL

Libraries are especially impacted during times of national and international conflict. In fact, cultural heritage institutions are often targeted for destruction to undermine the national and cultural identities of those under attack. While the theft of cultural artefacts as spoils of war were historically, under the correct circumstances, in accordance with international law in the early modern period, such practices have been strongly condemned in the modern period. Nevertheless, the international community continues to witness the plunder and destruction of libraries and museums during modern armed conflicts.

Libraries in the Time of War, hosted by Uppsala University on March 16, 2023, will address these issues directly. The daylong, hybrid symposium will host an internal assemblage of nine speakers from different continents sharing their personal experiences on the topic of libraries during wartime. Topics will include:

  • The history and legacy of libraries during wartime
  • Curatorial efforts to save collections from plunder and destruction
  • The legacy of conflict, including institutional ownership of stolen or looted cultural heritage
  • Legal complications regarding the restitution of cultural heritage

Libraries in the Time of War is free and open to the public. However, registration is required and space is limited. For those not able to join in-person or virtually, the event will be recorded and posted online.

The symposium is arranged and supported by Uppsala University in collaboration with IFLA (International Federation for Library Associations) and CERL (Consortium of European Research Libraries).

This event is kindly supported by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Thore and Vera Virgin’s Foundation.


Schedule of Events (Central European Time)

9.00 – 9.15 Opening and Welcome

Chair: Daryl Green (IFLA)

9.15 – 9.45 Kristian Jensen (Great Britain): Managing Institutional Collections with a Background in Conflict.

9.45 – 10.15 Tetiana Chorna (Ukraine): Ukrainian Libraries in the Time of war. Losses and Challenges.

10.15 – 10.45 Coffee

10.45 –11.15 Jason McElligott (Ireland): The Fate and Fortune of Books in the (interminable) Wars, Insurrections and Civil Wars of Ireland.

11.15 – 11.45 Antonia Bartoli (United States): The Nazi Looting of Libraries and the Biblioteka Ordynacji Zamojskiej. A Case Study.

11.45 – 12.00 Summary by chair

12.00 – 13.30 Lunch

Chair: Marian Lefferts (CERL)

13.30 – 14.00 Ove Bring (Sweden): Countries deprived of Cultural Objects ask for Restitution. The Perspective of International Law.

14.00 – 14.30 Maria Castrillo (Great Britain): The Imperial War Museums Library. A Century of Collecting War and Conflict in Print.

14.30 – 15.00 Éve Netchine (France): Dark ages at the Bibliothèque nationale (1939–1945). A history under construction.

15.00 – 15.30 Coffee

15.30 – 16.00 Makeswary Periasamy (Singapore): Resilience and Recollections. How the Singapore Library survived the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.

16.00 – 16.30 Emma Cunliffe (Great Britain): Safeguarding Libraries in War – All Possible Steps?

16.30 – 16.45 Summary

16.45 – 17.00 Wrap Up and Conclusions

Register Here


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
IFLA Rare Books & Special Collections Section (December 19, 2022). Libraries in the Time of War. Rare & Special: News from the Rare Books and Special Collections Section of IFLA. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from

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