Joshua Hammer has done some terrific reporting on the effort to preserve medieval manuscripts in Timbuktu last year:
At the time Haidara also had no idea if the militants knew how many manuscripts were in Timbuktu or how valuable they were. But quietly, determined not to attract attention, he laid contingency plans. With funds that Haidara’s library association already had on hand from foreign donors, he began purchasing footlockers in the markets of Timbuktu and Mopti, and delivered them, two or three at a time, to the city’s 40 libraries. During the day, behind closed doors, Haidara and his assistants packed the manuscripts into the chests. Then, in the dead of night, when the militants slept, mule carts transported the chests to safe houses scattered around the city. Over three months, they bought, distributed and packed nearly 2,500 footlockers.
- Joshua Hammer, The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts, Smithsonian magazine, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Race-to-Save-Malis-Priceless-Artifacts-236271361.html