Report of Expedition to Various Typoes of Library in the Provice of Aceh

January 27-30, 2005
(English translation provided by UNESCO)


In the morning of December 26, 2004, an earthquake struck off the northwest coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, spawned tsunamis and wreaked havoc along much of the rim of the Indian Ocean. Particularly hard-hit on the island were the Provinces of Aceh and some parts of North Sumatra. Over 100,000 people were either killed or missing, tens of thousands injured and hundreds of thousands were made homeless. It caused devastating damage to infrastructures, human life and property as well as the state and cultural heritage. The Indonesian government has proclaimed the destruction as a national disaster, the worst ever to strike the country.

The National Library of Indonesia, which facilitates all types of libraries in Indonesia, was called upon to plan a post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction of various types of library in the province. Based on the main duties and functions of the National Library, and also responding on the request from the Indonesian Parliament, the Agency of National Development Planning, and from the Coordinating Minister of Social Welfare and other parties from domestic and abroad, the National Library undertook an expedition to the Province of Aceh, led by the Director of the National Library and accompanied by three officials and one librarian to observe and report on the damages.

Basic consideration

1. Request from the Indonesian Parliament, the Agency of National Development Planning, and the Coordinating Minister of Social Welfare

2. Presidential Decree no. 11 year 2004 on the National Library

3. Letter of Assignment No. 308/2/a/I.2005 dated January 26, 2005

4. Recommendation from Mr.Oman Faturachman of the Jakarta Islamic University

5. Various sympathies shown by domestic as well as overseas agencies.


To observe and report on the latest condition of various libraries and documentation centers in and around Banda Aceh (the capital city of Aceh) by making an on-the-spot inspection and record taking of the prevailing situation and condition.


1. The Aceh Provincial Library

2. Public and school libraries

3. Centers of documentation and information

4. High-ranking officials of the Aceh provincial government


Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Team arrived at the airport of Sultan Iskandar Muda at 10:00 hrs local time. The airport was in normal condition. The passengers, many of whom comprise foreign volunteers revealed by their telltale emblems or letters on their jackets, were embarking and disembarking. On the apron, various types of civilian and military aircrafts were taxiing, landing or parked. An emergency ATC tower provided by the government of Singapore stands in place of the main tower. Uniformed military personnel and police officers, local and foreign, and their vehicles are seen almost everywhere.

At 13:00 hrs, the Team directly proceeded to the location of the Aceh Provincial Library (BPD). The condition is described as follows.

1. The physical construction of the two-story building (2,300 m²) is still intact.

2. Concrete and steel fences surrounding the building are damaged or lost as they caught the full blow of the tidal wave from the front and behind.

3. The yards (5,400 m²) are mostly covered by black mud, debris and ruins of various kinds.

4. On the first floor, the tidal wave did not leave any library materials behind; 30-cm thick mud and debris cover the floor that was previously inundated by water 3 meters deep.

5. The lost or damaged collection is children, adolescent and adult. Some bookshelves still exist; air-conditioners are damaged or detached from the wall.

6. The second floor was supposedly be undamaged as it was not hit by the water, but it appears that looters ransacked the area, leaving a disorderly mess. Obviously the target of the looting was money and goods that are easy to sell. Books are scattered about, drawers pried open.

7. The deposit collection on the second floor was surprisingly left untouched, including two units of microreader still in place. Some other collections are fortunately kept in safe place by the head of Library Services at her residence.

8. Three units of mobile library parked on the carport were crushed beyond repair by the force of the unanticipated wave; tires and transaxles looted. The brand-new mobile library that was just sent days earlier from Jakarta prior to the disaster was discovered at the Lampasek Kota area, flung away almost 200 meters from the main road and was covered with all sorts of debris and wastes.

9. The total number of collection:

Collection Breakdown
Subcollection Titles / Copies
 a) Children collection  2,709 titles / 13,546 copies
 b) Adolescent collection  8,176 titles / 40,801 copies
 c) Adult collection  23,093 titles / 124,123 copies
 d) Reference collection  3,913 titles / 6,287 copies
 e) Deposit collection  3,315 titles / 8,811 copies

Breakdown of the collections based on classification

Classification Breakdown
Classification Titles / Copies
000 - General works  1,286 titles / 6,637 copies
100 - Philosophy  602 titles / 3,076 copies
200 - Religion  4,912 titles / 23,711 copies
300 - Social sciences  12,153 titles / 51,408 copies
400 - Language  1,288 titles / 6422 copies
500 - Pure science  1,922 titles / 9,500 copies
600 - Applied science  11,631 titles / 40,279 copies
700 - Art  1,318 titles / 6,501 copies
800 - Literature   8,478 titles / 42,255 copies
900 - History  4,338 titles / 12,299 copies
TOTAL   47,928 titles / 202,093 copies

At 15:00 hrs, a meeting was held with the Secretary of BPD, Mr.Yusuf and some staff at the residence of Mrs. Yusnidar, head of Library Services. At the meeting the Director of the National Library conducted dialogs and gave directions to the staff of BPD. Excerpts of the discussion are as follows:

· The Director of the National Library encouraged the staff to be more optimistic and not be overwhelmed by sad feeling.

· In addition to books, a donation from the staff of the National Library amounting to more than Rp 33 million was presented to all the staff of BPD proportionate to the afflicted loss and damage. Accompanied by several staff of BPD, the Team is scheduled to visit the Administrator of Aceh on the following day.

· According to the Secretary of BPD, in the province of Aceh there are eight public libraries. Up to now, no news could be obtained regarding the condition of the public libraries located in the Sigli and Meulaboh districts.

· Total number of BPD staff amounts to 72 persons. 23 of them are missing or killed, including the Head of BPD (Mr. Bachtiar Azis), 7 persons injured and 23 took refuge.

Friday, January 28, 2005

At 09:00 through 12:30 hrs, an observation to various locations of disaster around the city of Banda Aceh acquired the following facts:

1. The Library and Museum of the Ali Hasymy Educational Foundation, located at Jl. Jenderal Sudirman 80, is still intact and undamaged since the tsunami did not reach this area. Entry to the building was, however, not possible because it was locked, no one was seen around the following days when the Team went there again.

2. The activity of City Mobile Post Library that was started just one week earlier constituted a program of the Children Protection National Commission in cooperation with the Post Office company. The mobile library made use of the operational vehicle of the Post Office company, distributing books at a certain point every few days.

3. The ecclesiastical library of the Grand Mosque Baitul Rahman:

a. The vicinity of the mosque was dirty, dusty and had unpleasant smell.
b. The library was locked. A peep inside revealed that bookshelves were empty and were arranged as such to protect damaged windows and doors and to prevent people from entering.
c. No collection was visible. It was assumed that all the books had been damaged and washed away since the area was flooded quite deep. The library staff was nowhere in sight.

4. The buildings of Zikra and Effendi bookstores collapsed as the result of the earthquake preceding the tsunami. Under the ruins, corpses may still be present.

5. The library of SMA I (high school) Banda Aceh located in Blang Padang field was undamaged since it was located on the second floor. Nevertheless, the inside looked disorganized probably because of the earthquake. No staff was present, except for a squad of Air Force Academy cadets sorting out the wreck, throwing the mud away and doing repainting.

6. The Center for Documentation and Information of Aceh (PDIA) building, situated around 200 meters from SMA I, was all but erect. This institution, prominent for its manuscript and other rare collection related to the history of Aceh, is now history. Nothing was left behind.

a. The building was severely damaged by the wave, only a half of the building remained. The wave left a gaping hole in the remaining structure.
b. Some of the collection were scattered around in the building, mixed up with debris and garbage.
c. The team could only find three books and one sheet of the genealogy of the Moslem kings of Aceh; they are taken to Jakarta for restoration.

7.  The team succeeded in making a courtesy call to the Administrator of Aceh, i.e. Vice Governor Mr. Azwar Abubakar. The discussion led to the following conclusion:

a. A regulation will be drawn up to serve as a legal umbrella to work out the problems of library.
b. To send heavy equipments to clean up the mud and debris in the BPD compound.
c. To appoint Mrs.Yusnidar, head of Library Services, as Acting Head of BPD until a designate head is installed. The Letter of Decision to this effect has been issued on 5 February 2005.
d. BPD was to prepare a shopping list to be submitted to the Vice Governor with copy to the Director of the National Library.
e. The National Library will assist with mobile libraries, including the collection, as soon as possible.

8.  The trip continued to the coastal area of Ulele. This region lying east of Banda Aceh, previously a densely populated zone, is for the most part flattened except for a few structures, such as the mosque situated close to the beach, which has survived the ordeal.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Team visited SMK 2 (vocational school) at Jl. Nyak Makam. The complex was relatively undamaged. But its assets, such as furniture, office equipments, student records, and library collection were completely swamped by water. Some staff was seen cleaning chairs and tables and drying books and documents. A unit of the Australian Army was assigned to this school to help clean and fix the machinery at the laboratory that had been covered by mud. According to the latest figure, the total number of students is 1,440 students. 650 students already reported back to school. The number of teachers is 95 permanent teachers and 14 temporary teachers, 15 persons have not reported back to school including the Headmaster, Mr. D. Iskandar. The acting Headmaster is presently Mr. Sofyan Efisa.

At 11:30 hrs the Team visited BPD for the second time. Here, a task force set up by the instruction of the Vice Governor went into action, cleaning up all the mess and starting to resurrect the library, which had been in a comatose state for one whole month. Amid the activity, the Director of the National Library gave the following directives:

1. The disaster affected many people. The BPD staff has to continue to be optimistic even under the present situation. Under the leadership of the acting head, Mrs.Yusnidar, they have to work intensively following the guidance from the Vice Governor.

2. The 50 available staff are considered adequate. For the time being there will be no need to add new recruits. The National Library will provide technical assistance as well as guidance and counseling on library matters.

3. A shopping list was to be made for submission to the Vice Governor with copy to the Director of the National Library.

4. BPD should request foreign aid for the rehabilitation of libraries in the Province of Aceh through the Vice Governor or the National Library.

5. The most urgent is the presence of mobile library to serve emergency schools and refugee camps with plenty of reading materials, either in Bahasa Indonesia or in English. The National Library will send two units of fully equipped vans within the months of February or March 2005. The Vice Governor has promised to help with additional mobile libraries after BPD submits a model of the vehicle.

6. At 13:00 hrs, the Team took off to the location of the mobile library stranded at Jl. Rawa Setia, Lamposek Kota. The vehicle was hurled amid debris of other cars, household ruins, human remains, scraps, etc. The car was claimed to be a total loss.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Before leaving for Jakarta, the Director of the National Library met with the Defense Attaché of the German Embassy in Jakarta, Colonel Bruno, at Mrs. Yusnidar’s residence. The talks led to a commitment of aid from the German government for the cultural rehabilitation and reconstruction of, in this case, the BPD library. At 09:30 hrs, the team left for the airport to fly home to Jakarta.


1. The Province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam suffered a direct hit from the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. A large number of the population was either killed or missing, and many cultural infrastructures were damaged.

2. Other types of library and documentation centers were also badly damaged.

3. The Aceh Provincial Library (BPD) endured damages to its building and infrastructure and experienced a near total loss of its collection.

4. BPD suffers the loss of 23 personnel.

5. The Director of the National Library made a courtesy call to the Vice Governor of Aceh to discuss matters relating to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the library system in the province.

6. The National Library is committed to help various types of library that are demolished, including in the form of assisting two units of fully-equipped mobile library to BPD.

7. The Director of the National Library met with Colonel Bruno, the Defense Attaché of the German Embassy in Jakarta, discussing ways to give support to BPD.


1. To immediately send two units of fully equipped mobile library to the Province of Aceh.

2. To immediately provide reading materials to BPD, the libraries of SMA, SMK and the Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh.

3. To immediately conduct a coordination meeting with other institutions both internally as well as externally to discuss library issues in the Province of Aceh.

4. To follow up on the instruction of the Vice Governor of Aceh and the possible assistance from the German government through the German Embassy in Jakarta.

5. To immediately prepare a (shopping) list of what’s needed to rehabilitate BPD and other libraries in and around Banda Aceh.

6. To reestablish contact with other libraries, especially public and school libraries, in the outlying districts.

7. BPD to act as liaison between the National Library and the provincial government and other institutions in Aceh, including foreign counterparts.

Expedition team:

· Dady Rachmananta
· Djuharno
· Widiyanto
· Suyatno
· Fadli