Transmit Local Memory, History and Identity: The Roma Library of Malmö and the Roma Resource Library of Sweden
22 November 2022
UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme celebrated its 30th anniversary from 27 October – 5 November 2022. This programme seeks to ensure that the documentary heritage of the world is preserved, protected, and accessible – for people now and in the future. This ambition is expressed in the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form (2015 Recommendation) [PDF], which defines documentary heritage as objects which contain analogue or digital information, such as books, manuscripts, archives and audio-visual content.
Elisabet Rundqvist of the National Library of Sweden and Sebastian Tarazona, Libraries of Malmö, and members of the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations (MCULTP) Section discuss the relevance of connecting two libraries in Malmö.
Since 1999, the Roma people have been protected in Sweden by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and from 2000 Sweden has national legislation giving the Roma people and the language Romani chib equal rights to for instance library services. The Swedish library act has appointed the group as a prioritized user group. In dialogue with the Roma population, a groundbreaking development has been initiated at Libraries of Malmö to establish a Roma Library. This long awaited aspiration of the community is taking place right now in Malmö.
In 2021 a municipal political decision was taken to initiate a Roma Library within the City Library of Malmö. The first actions by the Libraries of Malmö were to start an open dialogue process with the Roma Communities in the area, and to hire a full-time coordinator for the Roma Library as a permanent position.
In 2022 Bagir Kwiek, former Roma reading ambassador for Swedish Arts Council and former executive officer at the National Library of Sweden (KB), was hired as the coordinator for the Roma Library in Malmö. An open call was made to form a working group from the Roma communities, to contribute with perspectives and ideas for how to create the Roma Library.
Currently the Libraries of Malmö is collaborating with KB to take on a national assignment to build up the permanent national Roma Resource Library.
– I think the potential for this library is huge and it is probably the first time that it is backed up both by a government and a municipality in this way. It will be government funded as well as a part of the library infrastructure, says Bagir Kwiek.
This year KB has given the Libraries of Malmö two funded assignments. One is to initiate an inventory project for Roma literature, and the other is to collaborate with a Roma-owned media company and the Roma communities to produce several short films on Roma literature and library issues.
The Roma Library of Malmö will be inaugurated in 2023, while the Roma Resource Library is pending a final decision by the Swedish government.