IALL Program Recap: The Destruction of Literature and Librarians in Argentina during the Dictatorship

By Jim Hart

RJ-Book-BurningThis session discussed the organized program by the military junta in Argentina to burn “subversive literature.” The first speaker, Federico Zeballos, had copies of government resolutions ordering the destruction of various titles. These books came from all kinds of libraries, academic, public, school, and even private. Indeed, having heard about the book burning, some people even chose to burn their own books in their backyards, knowing that their homes were not safe from government searches.

The next speaker, Maria Rondine, focused on children’s books and their authors. The government believed that these books would fill children’s heads with communist ideology. This showed how terrified the dictators must have been about their own legitimacy. These books were not only like those that many of us read to our children; they were the same ones!

The last speaker, Alejandra Nardi, told us of the 25 librarians who disappeared as the result of the book burning. She had photos and biographical information on many of them, and showed us a poignant film about the disappearances. It is not an exaggeration to say that everyone was profoundly affected by this presentation. For there but for the grace of God went each one of us.

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