Hill Museum & Manuscript Library Receives Grant from Prince Claus Fund to Digitize Timbuktu Manuscripts
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) of Saint John’s University has received an award of $38,500 from the Cultural Emergency Response program of the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, based in the Netherlands.
The grant will help support the first year of a project to create digital copies of over 300,000 manuscripts from Timbuktu dating from the 12th to 19th centuries. The manuscripts, belonging to many of the ancient families of Timbuktu, have been entrusted to SAVAMA-DCI, a non-governmental organization led by Abdel Kader Haïdara, a member of one of the families.
When Timbuktu's ancient libraries were in danger of destruction by Islamist militias during the capture of Timbuktu in summer 2012, the Prince Claus Fund supported local efforts led by Haïdara to remove the threatened manuscripts to safety in Bamako, the capital of Mali some 450 miles south of Timbuktu. The Prince Claus Fund is now helping HMML’s effort to digitize the manuscripts, stored in more than 2,000 metal boxes kept in secure locations around Bamako.
Image: Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, executive director of HMML, with some of the dozens of metal shipping boxes containing the rescued manuscripts of Timbuktu.