On June 9, 2020, Broujerdi had a video conference with Knibbeler, President of the Royal Library of the Netherlands (National Library of the Netherlands). Referring to the outbreak of Covid-19 disease and the closure of the “IFLA 2020” World Congress, Broujerdi declared, “The closure of the IFLA World Congress did not prevent us from exchanging views and transferring experiences. To this end, the NLAI seeks to establish online meetings and discussions with Library and information science professionals around the world.”
Broujerdi pointed to the NLAI’s increasing focus on children’s resources and continued that this organization had digitized 23,000 children’s books in the quarantine days during the coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, the digital availability of 700-year-old documents and 1,000-year-old books had also been of essential measures.
Knibbeler also stated that digitization of works was a necessity of the present age and that the actions had taken by the NLAI in this regard are good ideas. She continued it was needed to mention that the National Library of the Netherlands had digitized 100 million books, documents, and magazines, and in coordination with publishers, these resources had been digitally uploaded to the library website and had become available to the public.
At the end of her speech, the head of the National Library of the Netherlands emphasized the necessity of holding online meetings on librarianship with experts and specialists due to the closure of the annual IFLA Congress and continued they would welcome the implementation of these meetings and attendance there.
On June 9, 2020, Broujerdi, President of the NLAI, in an online meeting with Roland Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, and Mengoni, Head of Asian and African Collections, held by the library, described the technical cooperation and the exchange experience, joint programs, especially in the field of digitalization of resources; and discussed the exchange of Persian resources in the British Library.
Broujerdi noted that during the Coronavirus, the NLAI services were provided digitally. Besides providing services to scholars, authors, and students, information about the Coronavirus in the social, economic, and medical fields was documented. Explaining about the statistics of digitized children’s books, dissertations, photos, and non-book sources by the NLAI, Broujerdi said, “One of the important tasks of this organization is to catalog all manuscripts in Persian.
In the last two years, the major part of this project has been completed.
The NLAI is also carrying out the cataloging of Iraqi manuscripts, and in the next stage, it is the cataloging manuscripts in the Islamic world.” Expressing his satisfaction with the NLAI’s activities in the field of digitization and cataloging manuscripts, Keating declared that in the days of Corona, the role of books and the interest in reading books became more prominent among the people, and that was why the sense of responsibility of libraries to provide information increased. He added that the British Library was also closed during the Corona outbreak, but they planned to open its doors to visitors the next month.
In the continuation of this online conversation, Mengoni also referred to the 40 million sheets of the document that was available through the British Library website and to explain about cataloging and digitization of Persian manuscripts in Britain.
He said that cataloging the Persian manuscripts by the NLAI was admirable all over the world. They would also welcome to benefit from the Iranian experience.
To confirm Mengoni, Keating said that they were interested in using the National Library of Iran experiences in cataloging manuscript, and they would like Iranians to share their experiences. He also pointed out another point was that the measures of NLAI were very encouraging. Especially since Iranians were transferring the rich history of Iran to their children, and the British Library would not hesitate to cooperate with NLAI in information exchange and digitization.
On June 6, 2020, Broujerdi, in an online talk with Saad, Executive Director of the Lebanon National Library, while explaining the library and documentation fields’ activities, announced the readiness to exchange experiences and cooperation between the national libraries of the two countries.
Broujerdi, at the beginning of the video call, said, “In the current situation in the world, the NLAI activities have not stopped, and online access to the list of books, documents, papers, dissertations, exquisite books, newspapers, and journals is possible for all researchers, both inside and outside.” The organization was established in 1922 under the auspices of the Lebanese Ministry of National Education and is currently run by the Ministry of Culture, said Saad, referring to the Lebanese National Library’s history.
She added that the Lebanon National Library was responsible for inheriting Lebanese thought, which includes all writings, including books, magazines, manuscripts, and so on. “Unfortunately, many valuable books and valuable libraries in Lebanon were destroyed, burnt, and looted during the civil war between Muslims and Christian Arabs,” he said. “Also, some other problems stopped libraries’ services or minimized their progress. However, the development of the Lebanon National Library has always been one of our long-term goals.”
Referring to the National Library of Lebanon resources, Saad said the collection of that library included books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, cultural documents, encyclopedias, and the remaining microfilms. Magazines that belong to a century ago, as well as many old books, were available, but the number of old magazines was more, which in the future program would be open to clients for their online use.
Referring to Lebanon’s printing problems, she said book publication in Lebanon was still in print, and electronic book publication was not typical yet. But since universities in Lebanon were connected to the National Library, the output was published and made available in the National Library. And she added that she was delighted to benefit from the experiences of the National Library of Iran in the field of e-book exchange. At the end of the meeting, Broujerdi stated that it was possible to present and transfer the experiences of the NLAI to the Lebanon Library.
She added NLAI, with more than 80 years of history and activity in this field, has gained a lot of assets over the years, and we have the necessary preparations to transfer these experiences, including the restoration of manuscripts and the exchange of digital books, etc.”
On June 1, Broujerdi had an online video conference with Aleksandrova, Director of the SS. Cyril and Methodius, National Library of Bulgaria. Broujerdi stated that the Coronavirus outbreak had influenced the activities of the NLAI and all libraries around the world.
She added, “In Iran, due to the importance of ensuring the health of staff, patrons and members of the National Library, some measures were taken to provide telecommuting conditions for a large number of the staff. Also, a significant portion of the resources was digitally made available to researchers, academics, and the public. Fortunately, the NLAI has provided a variety of services to applicants during this period, including books, documents, dissertations, etc. and accordingly, more resources were digitized.”
Referring to the formation of a committee to collect information and documents related to the Coronavirus, Broujerdi declared, “The information will be monitored after being collected and finally kept as a document for the future.” Suggesting the share of Coronavirus related information between the National Libraries of Iran and Bulgaria, the head of the NLAI pointed to holding online discussions with experts.
He added, “National libraries can share their experiences in all areas, such as library management during Coronavirus days and prevention methods, as well as information in special meetings and committees.” Welcoming the Bulgarian Library experiences, Broujerdi suggested setting up joint exhibitions in books and documents, providing educational services in the area of document maintenance and exchange of information. and said, “The NLAI declares its readiness to advance this important issue, as we strive to provide more and qualified services to academics.”
Aleksandrova referred to the measures carried out by the National Library of Bulgaria in the context of the outbreak of the Coronavirus. In addition to the preventive measures, the information obtained about this virus will be published through the website of this library, and we are ready to share this information with the National Library of Iran.
He emphasized, “After reopening and resuming servicing, the quarantine of books is of such special importance to us that books will be sterilized and quarantined for 72 hours.”
Aleksandrova said that the National Library of Bulgaria’s focus in the current situation was on online activities. In this regard, they would welcome the suggestions and initiatives by the NLAI to communicate online with the heads of national libraries of other countries.
On June 10, Broujerdi had a video conference with Syarif, Director of the National Library of Indonesia. In this meeting, Broujerdi mentioned, “We expected to meet you in Iran, but due to the outbreak of Covid-19, we postpone this meeting to the future.”
Broujerdi also noted that the NLAI could have more interactions and discussions about documents and books with the National Library of Indonesia. “Because Indonesia is the largest country in the Islamic world, and its people adhere to the principles of Islam, and we can more easily reach an agreement on the use of resources written in the past by Muslim thinkers.” Referring to the draft of the memorandum between the National Archives and the Library of Iran and Indonesian Library, Broujerdi pointed out, “This online conversation has been a good opportunity for us to focus on the memorandum and get it signed by the parties.” Broujerdi stated that, in the NLAI, many documents have been digitized and placed on the site.
She added that digital resources such as children’s books, manuscripts, dissertations, documents, and newly published books were made available to clients. Broujerdi then said that to reach a common ground between Iranian and Indonesian thinkers, there were a significant number of opportunities in cyberspace to have a conversation with each other, and the NLAI was ready to make the necessary preparations in this regard. Referring to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the closure of the IFLA World Congress, Broujerdi called on the National Library of Indonesia to participate in the talks, like the NLAI, which seeks to hold online meetings and discussions with LIS professionals around the world.
The head of the National Library of Indonesia also expressed hope at the beginning of the meeting that a visit to Iran would be possible soon. “We have invited Iran’s embassy in Indonesia to facilitate our cooperation with the National Library of Iran, and we are pleased to complete the preparations of the memorandum with you,” said Syarif.
About the management of the National Library of Indonesia, Syarif reclined that they had wholly closed access to physical resources, and they only provided digital resources to clients. Anyone who wanted to access resources through the site could access thousands of resources while searching.
He continued that they had a page of the collections to provide information about the Coronavirus to the audience. He also had other supplies that provided patrons information to the National Library of Indonesia, which kept them in touch with the National Library of Indonesia.
Regarding the number of libraries in Indonesia, Syarif said that the National Library of Indonesia was in contact with more than 1,500 libraries and had 10 million digital resources.
He added that there were also many libraries at the provincial level, which were located in 33 provinces; moreover, they had extensive connections with the country’s universities and 10,000 specialized libraries.
Asked by Broujerdi about the number of Islamic and manuscript sources in Indonesia, Syarif replied that the National Library of Indonesia also possesses Arabic sources, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and sources on developments in the Middle East.
Broujerdi welcomed the exchange of such information in the form of the memorandum mentioned above. “Is there a place in the National Library of Indonesia where we can introduce Iranian culture?” In response, Syarif said that over the years, many countries had requested to have a coroner in the National Library of Indonesia, which was provided to them, and Iran could have this request so that they would make it possible.
In the end, the head of the National Library of Indonesia, referring to the good relations between Indonesia and Iran, expressed hope that cultural discussions between the two libraries would continue and that the Iranian Embassy in Indonesia would facilitate the connection between the two organizations.