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French Version


Library for Lebanon’s finances proves useful, popular (Daily Star)

Nestled amid the chaotic construction work that tears through the streets of Adlieh lies a wealth of Lebanese economic and financial data that is open to public scrutiny.

Founded in 1997 by the Finance Ministry, the Library of Finance has just celebrated its fifth anniversary and is campaigning hard to publicize the wide array of services it happily offers to any interested party.

The library has grown from an initial offering of a mere 3,000 titles to over 12,000 today.

Visits have also increased exponentially, from a handful of regulars to at least 40 people per day, according to a new interactive CD released as part of the institute’s growing effort to raise its public profile.

In addition to providing detailed information on Lebanese taxes, trade, debt, commercial law and budgetary issues, the library’s tri-lingual stacks also feature 89 periodicals from around the globe, as well as reports from international institutions like the United Nations, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“We have documents that you cannot access in other places,” said the institute’s director, Lamia El Moubayed Bissat, in a reference to certain IMF working papers and other specialized publications on worldwide taxation trends.

Although investment in information has been relatively modest in the country, Bissat said she was particularly proud of a recent institute survey which lists the names, addresses, and number of publications available at reading centers and cultural missions throughout Lebanon.

In the Bekaa Valley alone, where rural communities rank among the nation’s poorest, there are at least 16 university, municipality, and organizational libraries, the study reports.

“We found out that there were more libraries in Lebanon than we expected,” Bissat said, adding, “libraries are the gates to freedom.”

“They are a place where people can form their opinions without any pressure ­ they read and they develop their own thinking, their own judgments about political, economic or other issues. This is why libraries are so important, they really are the gates to democracy,” she said.

Initially funded by the French Finance Ministry and other state donors, the Finance Library has now become fully dependent on private donations like those of Societe Generale de Banque au Liban (SGBL), which recently sponsored a $5,000 security system and other amenities.

A library card can be purchased for LL30,000 per year and books can be loaned for two-week periods, while use of the facility’s internet center is free for up to two hours per day.

Beyrouth 12-01-2004
Habib Battah
The Daily Star



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