On the afternoon of 4 August 2020, the city of Beirut experienced a disaster of devastating proportions.  It was with a heavy heart that we watched footage of the explosion and began receiving news of the aftermath over the hours and days that followed.

First and foremost, our thoughts are with the people of the Beirut, and with Lebanese communities the world over. We stand in solidarity with our Lebanese members and colleagues as the long road towards recovery begins.

Amongst the vast extent of destruction caused by the explosions, IFLA is aware of libraries that have suffered various levels of damage throughout the city. These include the National Library of Lebanon, as well as multiple branches of the Beirut Municipal Library system. This is in addition to damage being recorded at other cultural institutions, museums, and heritage sites.

IFLA acknowledges the immediate need for humanitarian response, caring for the injured and displaced, and supporting all those whose lives have been upended over the past week.

However, in the wake of this disaster, there is also an urgent need to act to assess damage to libraries. The spaces that libraries can provide, as well as the cultural heritage of Lebanon and the city of Beirut that they safeguard will play an important role in restoring the spirit of the city. Together, these have an important role in bringing communities back together, re-building and re-establishing normal life in these most difficult times.  

Among the multifaceted challenges of COVID-19, economic hardship, and now the devastation following these explosions, the city of Beirut and the people of Lebanon and in need of international support. IFLA is committed to working with our network of member institutions and associations in Lebanon, as well as with our international partners at UNESCO, Blue Shield, and the PAC Centre Network, towards supporting recovery efforts.

Ensuring that the city’s libraries and their staff are supported in their recovery, and that their collections are secured, will remain a top priority moving forward.

Together with our members and partners, IFLA stands with Beirut.

Christine Mackenzie
IFLA President 2019-2021

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General


11 August 2020