Stephan and Julie Edwards, in ‘Libraries, Cultural Life, and Community Identity', maintain that professional librarians preserve information and culture. All libraries are culturally situated and community specific. Therefore, the librarian is charged with preserving and defending what defines both human and cultural rights. In this paper, the authors argue that the purpose of a library is to preserve cultural identity – to link individuals with the reality of their past, connect them to contribute in the contemporary setting, and imagine the future. The paper defines ‘cultural genocide' as a crime against humanity, using the example of the war crime in which national libraries were destroyed in the Balkans' war in the 1990s. When a library is destroyed, so are the cultural identity and memory of people. Against the backdrop of ‘cultural genocide' the authors define the culturally-symbolic role that libraries have in preserving cultural memory, cultural rights, and human rights.
--International Conference on Libraries from a Human Rights Perspective ed. Nabil Alawi (31 March – 2 April 2008), Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies: Ramallah, Palestine.