This story from New Republic is about a true library hero – sveral, in fact, although most of them have remained anonymous. It seems that when the group Ansar Dine took over Timbuktu in 2012, they vandalized the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Studies and Islamic Learning. When they fled, the mayor of Timbuktu reported that the militants had burned the collection of medival manuscripts. He did not know if any of the manuscripts had survived.
Well, they did survive, thanks to Librarian Abdel Kader Haidara and hundreds of families who hid the books and couriers who risked their lives to smuggle the books out of the region. Manuscripts were transported on bicycle and by boat, through checkpoints and under helicopters. Haidara estimates that roughly 95% of the 300,000 manuscripts were saved. They remain in Mali, but away from the more politically turbulent areas. Currently their greatest peril is deterioration from heat and moisture. The group T160K is looking for volunteers and donations to protect and preserve the manuscripts.
In the legion of kick-ass hero librarians, Abdel Kader Haidara and his team stand supreme!