After Action for Another Library

Traces of a process of book collection towards a new national library for East Timor.


  • Dr Tom Nicholson

I always conceived the action as a memorial or at least an attempt to picture a particular history of suffering and resistance... I hope the work also functions as a memorial to something much broader, the recent history of East Timor, or perhaps more specifically the history of the relationship between East Timor and Australia.

Dr Tom Nicholson

Books were targeted for destruction. Libraries were systematically burned, amongst them the widely-used university library and the English library in Dili. Private collections of books were targeted, and in notable cases book collections of prominent intellectuals and independence activists were collected on the street where they were publicly set alight. In villages, schools were systematically destroyed. After action for another library was established in Melbourne in response to these circumstances. Thousands of books were donated by bookstores, libraries, and individuals. They were shipped to Dili in containers where they now form part of the nascent National University Library of East Timor. The title pages of some books were photographed before the books were sent to East Timor. This work was subsequently exhibited at the 2006 Biennale of Sydney, and in other international exhibitions in Italy, Portugal, Buffalo, and Berlin.