Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) Officially Opens Doors Of Cutting-Edge Library And Research Center In Kabul

Singular Collection of Documents on Afghanistan's History and Culture Preserved by Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree

Books and Information-Sharing to Help Support Foundation for Development in Afghanistan

Apr 01, 2013, 09:00 ET from Dupree Foundation

NEW YORK, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU) officially opened the doors on the most advanced library and research center in Afghanistan, now at its permanent home on the campus of Kabul University.

ACKU is an active, working archive containing extensive material on Afghan history and society. Used by students, journalists and policy makers, ACKU facilitates research on institution building, program design and project implementation. ACKU has an important role in rebuilding the social, economic, political and cultural fabric of Afghanistan.

ACKU was established in 1989 by Nancy Hatch Dupree and her late husband Louis Dupree and has collected approximately 80,000 documents, 40 percent of which are in the local Afghan languages, Dari and Pashto. ACKU's comprehensive and singular collection encompasses documents from the time of the Soviet invasion, the rule of the mujahedeen, the Taliban era and the present day. The collection includes non-traditional monographs, serials, newspaper titles, and a large number of reference resources as well as historical books, magazines, and newspapers about the socio-political history of Central Asia and international relations between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries.

The new Centre was designed and overseen by an international team of architects including German-Canadian Sebastian May, Afghan Ajmal Maiwandi, Afghan-American Rafi Samizay, South African Jolyon Leslie, and Afghan Salim Rafik. The nearly 8,000 square foot facility is configured around a central courtyard, reflecting historic sensibilities of Afghan architecture. As much as possible, indigenous materials of Afghanistan were used in its construction, from its use of cedar wood from Kunar Province to its Maidan Shar stone strips on its interior walls and stone cladding on the exterior. All of the furniture pieces were designed and manufactured in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In addition to the central courtyard, the new ACKU library houses a reading room, lecture hall, gallery space, underground stacks, and a section to house ACKU's mobile outreach program, ABLE, which brings easy-to-read books in local languages to new readers throughout Afghanistan.

"By opening the doors of the Afghan Centre at Kabul University today, we are also helping to open new opportunities for the leaders of an Afghan society capable of contributing to the growth of their nation," said Mrs. Dupree. "ACKU is helping ensure that the people of Afghanistan once again have important resources about their history, culture, and development. We are proud of what we have accomplished to date, and look forward to accomplishing much more in the years and decades to come."

Mrs. Dupree is an internationally recognized expert on the history, art, and archaeology of Afghanistan. She has dedicated her life to documenting and preserving Afghanistan's cultural heritage. Mrs. Dupree arrived in Kabul in 1962 and, for the next 15 years, she and her late husband, Louis Dupree – a renowned archaeologist and scholar of Afghanistan's culture and history – traveled throughout Afghanistan conducting archaeological excavations. Mrs. Dupree is the author of five books, which are considered to be the foremost, authoritative guides to Afghanistan's major archaeological and historic sites (one of her books became the inspiration for Tony Kushner's play, Homebody/Kabul). Mrs. Dupree has been honored with an Award of Great Officer of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Italian government in Kabul for her work over the years.

Mrs. Dupree and the late Professor Louis Dupree began collecting these documents in Pakistan for safekeeping in 1979 and, along with the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, continued amassing documents. In July 2006, Mrs. Dupree brought the collection to Afghanistan so that Afghan students, citizens and the expatriate community working to rebuild the country would have access to its holdings.

Mrs. Dupree is assisted in her work by Abdul Waheed Wafa, the Executive Director of ACKU. Mr. Wafa, a native of Afghanistan, has been the Executive Director of ACKU since 2011. From 2010-11, he was a Neiman Foundation Fellow at Harvard University where he studied leadership, democracy and communications. Prior to that, he was a Kabul-based reporter for The New York Times and helped run its bureau there. Mr. Wafa earned his LLB at Kabul University.

Mr. Wafa said, "There are tremendous gaps in knowledge and understanding in Afghanistan today. ACKU exists to fill this gap and to build and strengthen the capacity and culture of research. ACKU collects, stores, preserves, and shares information with a wide body of readers in both urban and rural settings so as to encourage the development of a qualitatively literate society capable of contributing to the growth of our nation."

Mrs. Dupree is also the Founder and Ex-Officio of the New York-based Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation. The Foundation supports ACKU and its activities by raising funds and broadening knowledge about the history and culture of the people of Afghanistan throughout the United States.

ACKU's new building was granted generous financial support by the Afghan Government, the United States Agency for International Development, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, The Asia Foundation, the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and the many individuals who provided gifts to ACKU through the Dupree Foundation. A significant portion of ACKU's collection has been digitized by ACKU and preserved by the University of Arizona through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Currently, there are about 400,000 pages available online through the University of Arizona libraries via ACKU's website.

About the Dupree Foundation: The Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation for the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and broadens knowledge throughout the United States about the history and culture of the people of Afghanistan. The Dupree Foundation supports the history and cultural heritage preservation, information-sharing objectives and research efforts of the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University.

SOURCE Dupree Foundation